Ecclesiastes 8:1-9

Ecclesiastes 8:1

Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Solomon had set out to try and understand both folly and wisdom.  He has already sought out the folly and now he begins to seek out wisdom and the wise man.  First he asks the question who can compare anything to the wise man since he is the one who is sought out for his excellency in understanding things.  Then he speaks about the interpretation of something which the wise man who is walking with the Lord will be able to assess.  He has the ability to understand and then to instruct to help people avoid disaster.  Just as the Lord’s face will shine upon his people, the face of the wise man will shine upon those who seek his help.  The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:  (Numbers 6:25)  The wise man will also be gracious unto those who seek him for his help as the LORD is gracious to those who seek him.  Then his face will be changed from that of a rough unbeliever to a facial expression that is gentle and humble.  And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.  (Acts 6:15)  Stephen had the face of an angel when he witnessed before the Sanhedrin because his inward transformation was visible on his face.


Ecclesiastes 8:2

I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.


Solomon then counsels his hearers and readers that they need to keep the king’s commandment.  He is speaking about the commandments which do not contradict the law of God for we must obey God rather than men.  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.  (Acts 5:29)  The oath would refer to the covenant of God which he made with them at Sinai.  They were to keep the law and if the government tells them to break the law of God, then they were to disobey the government.  This is the same today for the Christian. If they are told to transgress the law of God by the government, then they are to reject the government in obedience to God.


Ecclesiastes 8:3

Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.


This first part of the verse is speaking about the presence of the king because there is no one who is outside of the sight of God, even the evildoer.  Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?  (Isaiah 29:15)  Then if a person is doing something which is evil, that is, against the law of God, then they are to stop and come out of whatever it is and rather than remain in it.  The king has the authority to take whatever actions he sees fit against those who have become enemies of the state.  This is why it is never good to try and tempt the king or the legitimate laws of the land which are in step with the laws of God.


Ecclesiastes 8:4

Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?


Then Solomon states that the word of the king has power and since he rules over the country, whatever he wants will be done by his subjects.  Who then would have the audacity to ask the king what he is doing or why he is doing it?  This is why even a king needs counselors to make sure whatever he is deciding on is done properly with wisdom.  Every ruler who rules a country must have good advisors or else the country will have many future problems.


Ecclesiastes 8:5

Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment.

Discerneth - Understand - It is something the subject is aware of without question.

Time - A point of time or a period of time

Judgment - Justice, Judgment, or ordinance (manner)

Those who are obedient to the King’s commandment will feel no evil thing, that is, they will not become involved in anything sinful nor will they suffer any consequences of an evil act if they remain obedient. The second half of this verse builds upon the first part of the verse which deals with keeping the king’s commandment. Now looking at the word “discerneth” it carries with it the understanding a person has without question. The true believer knows that they are to believe and obey God without question. They do not need to be told that they should be obedient. It is something which is inherent because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

When we read the Scriptures, we have specific commands and situations which must be understood and obeyed. It is called the King’s commandment both here in verse 5 and in verse 2. The King’s commandments for the believer are found in the Scriptures. We study the Scriptures for the purpose of being obedient and to fulfill our part in the Great commission.

First of all we must discern the time. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)  In Psalm 90:12, we are told to number our days so we may apply our hearts to wisdom. That is, we are to realize that we have only a certain number of days on earth and if they are spent in frivolity, then we will have wasted our life but if we understand the time we have and the times we live in, then we apply ourselves to wisdom, that is, serving the Lord with all our strength. The principle in discerning the times we live in is found in Acts 13:36. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: (Acts 13:36) David had served his own generation and we are all placed in certain periods of time in history for the purpose of serving our generation.

Martin Luther served his generation with the start of the Reformation. The Apostle Paul served his generation by starting many churches and bringing the Gospel to the Roman Empire which eventually spread throughout the entire empire. William Tyndale served his generation by making an English translation of the Bible which was the forerunner of the King James Bible. There could be many others we could name but we must discern the times that we live in and realize that people in this generation need to hear the true Gospel and it is our responsibility to get the Gospel out as we serve our generation by understanding the times and that the time being short. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; (Ecclesiastes 12:1) Ecclesiastes 12:1 states that we are to remember our Creator in the days of our youth and that is to prevent us from getting involved in sin as we get older. It is called training the next generation which is part of discerning the times and as we train them in the ways of the Lord, then when temptation comes, they will know how to avoid it.

Secondly, we must discern judgment. Now in this verse, it is not speaking of the final judgment but in making of a proper decision. The idea that we are never to judge is foreign to the Bible. Christians must make judgments all the time concerning life itself but judgments are also made concerning obedience to the Lord. When a situation confronts us in which one path is sinful and the other is obedience to God, the Christian should make the right decision in obedience to God. Remember what meaning the word “discerneth” carries and that is the subject being aware of something without question. As Christians, obedience should be the normal lifestyle without question. We must never ponder whether it is proper to sin or not, for it is always wrong to sin. If we continue to keep the king’s commandment, we will never feel evil or a sense of guilt which can stop a Christian in their tracks. So basically we are seeing in this verse that as Christians we must discern the times we live in, the time we have, and the proper ways to engage in ministry so we may serve our generation.


Ecclesiastes 8:6

Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.


Building upon the principles we saw in verse 5, every purpose under Heaven requires time and judgment.  First of all we must understand the timing of such a purpose and will it cause a problem or a derailment in our Christian walk and then we must sit in judgment of that purpose to see if it is conducive to our walk.   Everything in this world has a proper way of being done and when it affects the life of a believer, there must be much discernment used.  Misery comes when we disengage our discernment and proceed according to feelings or desire rather than judging each situation which comes into our lives.  When people make wrong decisions which seem right in their own eyes at the beginning, then misery or adversity will eventually set in when things do not turn out as they expected.


Ecclesiastes 8:7

For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?


The reason a person must make proper and discerning decisions is because they may get into something and anticipate great reward and it may cause them to go bankrupt.  A person may join a church thinking they will help him get to Heaven when in essence

the church teaches a false message which leads to eternal damnation.  All because they thought the future would be bright according to how they assessed something today.  No one can tell what the next day holds and that includes those who think they are great counselors or have all the answers.  We think of today’s talk shows on TV like Oprah or Dr. Phil where so many look to them for answers but in reality, they are both spiritually bankrupt and couldn’t help themselves if a situation arises.  Everything on this world is already determined by the counsel of God.


Ecclesiastes 8:8

There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.


Then Solomon brings up the ultimate situation where no person on earth has any power over it.  First, retaining the spirit one second after the body dies.  Once the spirit is removed from the physical body, physical death will occur and no one has the power to keep the spirit one second longer after they die nor do they have any power to prevent their death if God has decreed that the time of their death is at hand.  We may be told that we have a terminal disease and we only have 6 months to live but we do not know the exact moment of our physical death especially since every human being on earth has the death sentence the moment they are conceived because of the aging process.  The discharge in the war is non-existent.  A soldier may be discharged from military service but no human can ever be discharged from the war between life and death, as death will be the final victor on this earth.  In a previous verse we were told how the wicked prolong their inevitable death or make an attempt to. For example, Frank Sinatra went for Camel milk injections and yet with all his money and attempts to live, May 14, 1998 came and he died.  With all his wealth, he could not stop what God had decreed.


Ecclesiastes 8:9

All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.


Here once again Solomon is assuring his readers that he has come to these conclusions by his own investigations into these subjects.  Applying his heart means he did not give a superficial result but he looked deeply into all the subjects that he chose to examine.  Then Solomon speaks about the situation that citizens of many countries face and that is the tyrannical rule of a king in which the evil king thinks that he is subduing the people into submission but instead it raises a rebellious and independent spirit in the people and soon there is an insurrection and the king will be unable to subdue it.  In the USA here, in 1776 King George III of England kept putting more and more taxes on the colonists and the final act was he had his troops attempting to confiscate all the guns of the colonists which of course did not work and on April 19, 1775, at Lexington Green, the battles of Lexington and then Concord took place which began the seeds of the War for Independence.  So King George III lost everything on this side of the Atlantic Ocean because of his greed for more taxes and an attempt to disarm the people.  He did it to his own hurt.  This is why a person who holds a management position in a company should never be evil toward the employees because it only fosters the seeds of resentment instead of the seeds of cooperation.