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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes

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FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes 8


(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for meditation. To achieve this we have used a variety of means, notes, headings, verse summaries.)



FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes 8: Beware thinking you are in complete control


[Preliminary Comments: It is difficult to observe a flow quite often in the latter chapters of this book. The first Part seems to accept uncertainties but suggests wisdom helps face them and enables one to act wisely in the face of authority [v.1-8]. The second Part implies that life doesn't always work out in the way we think it should [v.9-14] and the final Part concludes with the thought that contentment should be our goal and being at peace in the face of the uncertainties of life [v.15-17]. These uncertainties are specifically mentioned in verses 1,7 & 17 that we have underlined.]



PART 1: v.1-8: Handling uncertainties


v.1 Wisdom lifts the spirit

v.1 Who is like the wise?
     Who knows the explanation of things?
A person's wisdom brightens their face
     and changes its hard appearance.


v.2-6 Think carefully howe you act before a ruler

v.2  Obey the king's command, I say, because you took an oath before God.

v.3  Do not be in a hurry to leave the king's presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases.

v.4  Since a king's word is supreme, who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?'

v.5  Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm,
     and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.

v.6  For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
     though a person may be weighed down by misery.


v.7,8 Be careful, we cannot control the unexpected things of the future

v.7  Since no one knows the future,
     who can tell someone else what is to come?

v.8  As no one has power over the wind to contain it,
     so no one has power over the time of their death.
As no one is discharged in time of war,
     so wickedness will not release those who practise it.


PART 2: v.9-14: Uncertainties & Injustices


v.9 Watching all this I saw powerful people can just hurt themselves

v.9  All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt.


v.10 So the smug wicked can bring death on themselves

v.10  Then too, I saw the wicked buried – those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.


v.11 Failing to uphold the Law leads others to go astray

v.11  When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people's hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong.


v.12,13 The wicked may appear to get away with it but it's still better to revere God

v.12  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.

v.13  Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.


v.14 Life's injustices cannot be fathomed

v.14  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.


PART 3: v.15-17: Conclusions – be contented & at peace


v.15 So enjoy what you have and be contented in your work

v.15  So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.


v.16,17 Life is too complex to be sure of meaning

v.16  When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labour that is done on earth – people getting no sleep day or night –

v.17  then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it. .



Continue to Ecclesiastes 9