Ecclesiastes 8:2-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 11, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

When I came to this section of Ecclesiastes with the title in my Bible of “Obey the King,” my first thought was that this doesn’t really apply to us today; we don’t live under a monarchy with a king. But many of the principles in this section do apply to our leaders in general, so let’s take a look.

Verse 2 starts out by showing us that we should obey the authorities over us because we desire to honor and obey God. As a follower of Jesus, we have pledged ourselves to follow Him, which means we should also follow those in authority over us because that honors God. You can read more about this idea here or here.

Verse 3 tells us that we should obey our authorities even when it’s something we don’t want to do. We shouldn’t rush to leave their presence, but stay to make sure we are following their orders and ready to do everything they ask of us. We are serving for the authority’s pleasure, not our own. Verse 4 echoes that idea, reminding us that the authorities over us don’t have to answer to us. They may respect us enough to hear our opinion, but it is ultimately up to them and not us.

Verses 5-7 tell us that we would be wise to do what the authority wants, at the right timing, and in the right way. We don’t necessarily know the whole picture, so we cannot know the full purpose of what we may be asked to do. Sure, I could question the actions of the President of the United States, but I don’t know a lot about what’s going on in our government, so I don’t have the full picture of the situation.

Verse 8 reminds us that as humans, none of us are really in control, even those in authority positions. Just like we can’t contain the wind, we can’t know when someone will die.

This analogy of obeying the king also shows us how to obey God. We do not know anywhere near the whole picture that God knows - His knowledge is infinite, and He knows the entire past, present, and future of our time, and even beyond time! There’s no way we can compare with that. Even the smartest among us have zero knowledge of the future, and we only know what has been recorded for the past. We cannot even know everything that is happening in the present time when we live. But God knows all of that.

Because of God’s vast knowledge, we should always obey Him as our supreme authority. We may think we know better than Him at times, but we never really do. He ultimately knows what will happen in the future, so we should trust His guidance. He may tell us to do things that we don’t want to do, but because He is a loving God, we should trust that He does have our best interests in mind at all times.

Verse 9 continues, “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.” When someone lords it over others and exercises his authority to the detriment of others, that will ultimately hurt himself. If you are in any kind of authority over others, acting wrongly toward them will end up hurting yourself. If you don’t trust in and follow the ultimate authority of God, then you will likely end up acting selfishly, which will come back and bite you in some way. The only way to fully rule in a just manner is to follow God’s ways.

Verse 10 concludes our section, “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.” Even wicked and oppressive rulers would often receive lavish funerals, even being honored in their death. This does not give a good example to the people, however, as it shows them that they may still be honored and praised even for wicked actions.

How do you relate to the authority figures in your life? Authorities in your life may be your parents, teachers, work supervisor, or those holding government offices. Do you honor God by honoring the authorities in your life? Do you respect authorities, realizing that they know more of the big picture than you do? Give God glory and honor by honoring His authority most of all, and also by honoring the people who He has placed in authority over your life.

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