Ecclesiastes 8 Commentary

Ecclesiastes 8 Commentary

“No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning.” Is the teacher including himself on the list of failures? Has he also failed to comprehend what goes on under the sun?

What then do we make of the many teachings in this book?

He has maintained the fact that everything is meaningless. Meaningless simply because no one can find meaning, regardless.

The prophet-cum-teacher is driving the point that all human schemes aimed at discovering meaning are useless. It is a chase after the wind.

There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. Verse 14.

The Book of Job has labored to explain this paradox. The teacher is in no mood to search for explanations. His conclusion? Meaningless, useless, illogical, or simply nonsense.

But the teacher is not exactly clueless.

Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow. Verse 12 and 13.

Even under intense persecution, the righteous is all joy and peace. On the other end is the wicked wallowing in riches but also in misery and emptiness. And the righteous have known physical death as yet another door into the glorious presence of God. The wicked drown in fear. All their hope is this life and death, therefore, is such a huge blow – the end of all there is to life.

The section on obedience is apparently a reference to an earthly ruler. Clever writing. The author hasn’t written the rule book for earthly governance. The author is talking about the King of kings.

A proper time may be a reference to a time when the LORD makes everything new in His own time. A proper procedure may be a reference to the right way. Read as the Way. Probably the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Then we have an all-important statement on evil. The wicked always feel evil is a shop they visit once in a while. They think life is all righteousness with doses of evil here and there. And they are wrong. The proper ‘procedure’ defines who is wicked and who is righteous. No wicked man ever escapes the trade by his own means. Think about it. There is a time and a procedure for everything.  

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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