Ecclesiastes 8 – Man Cannot Know God’s Ways

Verse one means that a wise man is easily identified by people because it makes itself uniquely apparent to others in their actions and their judgment. Verses 2-9 note the supremacy of a ruler’s power and how it can be abused, and his subjects oppressed as well. Solomon is preaching civil obedience here, but there is also a warning that one should not do evil at their command. Defying such power can be dangerous, but such power does not mean he has power over his own death. Therefore, those who come before him should wisely determine when to make a stand. Serving the Lord comes first – anything at odds with that is unacceptable.

The Temple Mount of Jerusalem. The Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod were all built on this site.

The Temple Mount of Jerusalem. The Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod were all built on this site.

Verses 10-13 carry forward the thought of verse 9, pointing out that those who do evil often become complacent because “the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily.” They may do wrong a hundred times with no consequences. But sooner or later, all will not be well with them because they do not fear God.  Solomon has witnessed the burial of such men.

In verses 14-17, “the Preacher” talks about sometimes observing the righteous receive a fate we would rather see come to a wicked person, and vice-versa. At this, Solomon again states (as in chapter 2:24-26) that man has nothing better than to eat and drink, and find joy in his work during the days that God has given him “under the sun.” We cannot know why things happen as they do, nor can we know which of those things are part of God’s plans, and which of them are not. Verse 17 implies that the wise man may well have spent considerable time trying to understand the work of God “under the sun.” But it just is not within man’s ability to know.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at  


One comment on “Ecclesiastes 8 – Man Cannot Know God’s Ways

  1. Pingback: Day 193: Ecclesiastes 5-8; Life under the sun | Overisel Reformed Church

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