Ecclesiastes 8

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Endurance is the central theme of Ecclesiastes 8. Solomon explains how to endure unjust governments, how to endure the unfairness of life, and how to endure the perplexity of God. Wisdom, expectation, and knowledge are the keys to successful endurance.

Obey the King

Solomon recommended submitting to civil authorities, even in times of persecution. The king’s office is established by God (8:2). Be patient when wicked rulers make life miserable (8:9-11). You can expect injustice and unfairness. Fear God and exercise patience.

Paul reminded the Romans that God established the office of governing authorities (Rom 13:1-2). Good conduct cultivates approval (Rom 13:3). Rendering submission, taxes, and respect are matters of conscience (Rom 13:5-7).

Ecclesiastes 8 Outline

How to endure government
Wisdom makes hardship easier to endure
Respect the power of civil rulers
Behave appropriately at the proper times
Unknown future & death limit man’s power
Expect injustice and learn patience
Rulers will hurt themselves and others
The wicked will receive praise
Justice will be slow
Fear God
Life is unfair
Enjoy simple pleasures
Know that God’s actions will mystify you.

Death is Unstoppable

Verse 8 mentions one of the limitations of man – death. Some versions translate the first part of this verse as “No man has power to restrain the wind.” In context, “wind” is better translated as “spirit,” because the passage deals with death.

At death, a man’s spirit departs from his physical body (Psalm 146:4). No person can restrain the departure of the spirit of life. We are all conscripted to fight, and ultimately loose, our war with death.

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