Wisdom of Marion Vol 1.31 (Ecclesiastes 8:1-17)

8th Study: Ecclesiastes 8:1-17

I will begin this week study of Ecclesiastes with a breakdown of Chapter 8 from Pastor Meyers.

There are four stages in Solomon’s teaching in 8:1-17:

1) Solomon gives a general admonition to wise, godly submission (8:1-17)

2) Solomon gives a reminder of the limitations and evil of human governors (8:8-10).

3) There is an exhortation to fear God and exercise faith in the Lord’s final judgment (8:11-14).

4) Finally, Solomon concludes the third section with the now-familiar encouragement to receive God’s gifts without trying to figure everything out (8:15-17). {pp.160}

First, we must learn to be respectful of those who are place in authority over us.  Whether it’s your boss at the job, the pastor at your church, police or the mayor, and even the president, we must obey those in authority even when we disagree or think they are wrong.

As Americans, we have a problem with submitting to those above us. And I believe this is one the big differences between Biblical wisdom and our society’s wisdom. As Christians we must understand those place above us are there according God’s behalf of the human institutions He allowed to be set-up to create a society.

And if we are to obey God (as Christians), we must submit to the leaders he has put over us.

Now, Solomon makes an excellent point in 8:5-6, where he points out the right way to respond to our leaders requires discernment and understanding when is the right time and place to approach those in authority.

Pastor Meyers makes a great analogy when he writes:

Children have such a hard time getting this right precisely because they are immature. They go about dealing with their parents in the wrong way and then are rebuked. Thus, they get the false impression that they have no way to be heard, no voice, no way to talk to their parents about decisions that are made! It is precisely when they mature that they grasp the right way to appeal to authority.   {pp. 162}

However in the next section of Chapter 8,  Solomon deals with the limitations that are over rulers.

Unfortunately, there have been many leaders who think their power is unlimited and even have visions of being a god.  That’s scary because human beings are not made to be worshipped.

For example, one of the biggest problems I have when President Obama was elected that some in the media and liberals started calling him the Messiah.  While, I didn’t vote for him and I deeply respect the historical achievement of being the first Black president.  Calling the Messiah is way over the top and definitely above his pay grade.

We should never give any human being (President or any other leader) that kind of title.

Pastor Meyers writes this:

People in authority are tempted with visions of godhood and divinity. Rulers must remember they are only human. Subjects must remember, too, that their rulers are fallen people who may err in their edicts, laws, and sanctions.

The wise ruler will discern a proper time and judgment for every matter, even though he appreciates the “evil of humanity” and the fact that his power extends only so far. Wickedness cannot be legislated out of existence.

We can’t make people do what we want. Social engineering always goes haywire. Our government over other humans must be tempered with wisdom and humility.

{pp. 163-164}

The next section of Chapter 8, Solomon let us know that we must trust God and exercise faith in his final judgment.

Solomon lets us know that the political situation is uncontrollable by man. This is scary to a lot of people and it has created cynicism, conspiracy theorists, and even paranoia amongst us.  The government is out to get us and we better control our destinies before all our rights are taken away.

Well, Solomon shows us in verses 11-12, that paranoia and cynicism are not the way to act in our lives:

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him.  {ESV}

We have to trust in God’s final judgment even if it seems that bad people or leaders are getting away with their wrong deeds.  I know to a lot of people that seems wrong and even naive.  But if God is who he says he is through scripture, then we must believe judgment will come to everyone and he will dealt with it accordingly.

In conclusion of the chapter, Solomon encourages us to enjoy the food and drink and great gifts God has given us without trying to figure everything out.

Verse 15 is perfect when Solomon writes:

And I commend joy, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

I believe as Christians we take ourselves too seriously.  I must admit that has been my issue as well.  But one of things I love about the book of Ecclesiastes is the Solomon reminds throughout that God wants us to enjoy ourselves in life and have faith in Him to handle the big issues. 

I know as a man, we have this need to solve everything and be recognized for it.  But God, our creator, knows humans better than we know our ourselves and if we truly believe him, then we must step aside and let Him orchestrate everything or otherwise there really is no reason to believe in Him if we want to control it ourselves.

See you next week.

Here are a couple of questions from this week’s study to think about:

1) Why do you think as Americans we have a problem submitting to those in authority over us?  Be a pastor or boss or even president?

2) Why do we always look for a Messiah in a human leader instead of looking to God for our needs?

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