Ecclesiastes 8

Human Government Demonstrates Limitations of Wisdom

8:1 Who is1 a2 wise person? Who knows the solution3 to a problem?4

A person’s wisdom brightens his appearance,5 and softens6 his harsh countenance.7

8:2 Obey the king’s command,8

because you took9 an oath before God10 to be loyal to him.11

8:3 Do not rush out of the king’s presence in haste – do not delay when the matter is unpleasant,12

for he can do whatever he pleases.

8:4 Surely the king’s authority13 is absolute;14

no one can say15 to him, “What are you doing?”

8:5 Whoever obeys his16 command will not experience harm,

and a wise person17 knows the proper time18 and procedure.

8:6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,

for the oppression19 of the king20 is severe upon his victim.21

8:7 Surely no one knows the future,22

and no one can tell another person what will happen.23

8:8 Just as no one has power over the wind to restrain it,24

so no one has power over the day of his25 death.

Just as no one can be discharged during the battle,26

so wickedness cannot rescue the wicked.27

8:9 While applying28 my mind29 to everything30 that happens in this world,31 I have seen all this:

Sometimes one person32 dominates33 other people34 to their harm.35

Contradictions to the Law of Retribution

8:10 Not only that,36 but I have seen the wicked approaching37 and entering the temple,38

and as they left the holy temple,39 they

boasted40 in the city that they had done so.

This also is an enigma.41

8:11 When42 a sentence43 is not executed44 at once against a crime,45

the human heart46 is encouraged to do evil.47

8:12 Even though a sinner might commit a hundred crimes48 and still live a long time,49

yet I know that it will go well with God-fearing people50 – for they stand in fear51 before him.

8:13 But it will not go well with the wicked,

nor will they52 prolong their53 days like a shadow,54

because they55 do not stand in fear56 before God.

8:14 Here is57 another58 enigma59 that occurs on earth:

Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve,60

and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve.61

I said, “This also is an enigma.”

Enjoy Life In Spite of Its Injustices

8:15 So I recommend the enjoyment of life,62

for there is nothing better on earth63 for a person to do64 except65 to eat, drink, and enjoy66 life.67

So68 joy69 will accompany him in his toil

during the days of his life which God gives him on earth.70

Limitations of Human Wisdom

8:16 When I tried71 to gain72 wisdom

and to observe the activity73 on earth –

even though it prevents anyone from sleeping day or night74

8:17 then I discerned all that God has done:75

No one really comprehends what happens76 on earth.77

Despite all human78 efforts to discover it, no one can ever grasp79 it.80

Even if81 a wise person claimed82 that he understood,

he would not really comprehend83 it.84

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