Ecclesiastes 8 - Authority & Joy

Ecclesiastes 8:4 - "For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, "What are you doing?"" Solomon, as king would know. I wonder if this is only part sound advice on dealing with those in authority, particularly absolute authority. I wonder if it is part a lament that no one wold approach him as king and challenge him honestly on his sin. I know I appreciate those who confront me when I need it and frankly I'm certain that I need it more than I get it. How much Solomon must have felt alone as king when very few felt comfortable saying what needed to be said.

Ecclesiastes 8:10-13 - Solomon saw that in life when a sentence against evil is not delivered quickly, the people have no fear of authority and are inclined to evil and applied it to man's relationship with God. If men fear God, they obey Him and ultimately it goes well with them. Fear of those in power, be it the King or God, produces respect which delivers the people under them. It's tempting to be the nice, unoffensive leader, but acting with authority and conviction is good for those being led.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 - "... man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful..." Why is this so hard? We eat and drink, but we even are frequently unhappy about that. Solomon says just be joyful, period. But we listen to the world that tells us we need a newer car, a bigger house, a faster computer, more stylish clothes, or to be thinner or stronger or less gray haired or have more hair or whatever and we buy it and are never happy, let alone joyful. Solomon had everything that could be had in his day and his response was there was nothing better than to eat, drink and be joyful.

Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 - No matter how much we learn about the world, there are more and more mysteries as to how it works - or rather, how God is working in it. I remember when I was in High School physics, protons, neutrons and electrons were the smallest building blocks of matter. Then bigger microscopes came along, and quarks and I don't know what else were discovered. Science knows exponentially more than in Solomon's day, but we still can't explain where we came from or where we're going or how life really works after all.

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2 Comments

I was with you Doug until you mentioned a new faster computer - I got one for Christmas :)

I think that joy does come in the small things like eating a nice meal.. so often I woof it down and don't take time to savor it.

Great thought about justice being swift.. our legal system is very slow.. maybe our crime rates are evidence to it :)

Your first paragraph got me thinking about how hard it must have been for Nathan to confront Solomon's father.. and for John the Baptist to confront Herod.

Happy 2009 Doug!

My wife promised that I could have one when she graduated this March ... :-D

Actually,my reading of Ecclesiastes 8:15 isn't that we should find joy in the small things, but simply that we should have joy, period. He actually says "I commend joy" in the ESV, like he's recommending a good mechanic or something.



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  • My wife promised that I could have one when she graduated this March ... :-D Actually,my reading of Ecclesiastes 8:15 isn't that we should find joy in the small things, but simply that we should have joy, period. He ac...

  • I was with you Doug until you mentioned a new faster computer - I got one for Christmas :) I think that joy does come in the small things like eating a nice meal.. so often I woof it down and don't take time to savor it...

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