1. Praise of true wisdom continued (Ec 7:11, &c.). "Who" is to be
accounted "equal to the wise man? … Who (like him) knoweth the
interpretation" of God's providences (for example, Ec 7:8, 13, 14), and God's word (for example, see
on Ec 7:29; Pr 1:6)?
face to shine—(Ec 7:14; Ac
6:15). A sunny
countenance, the reflection of a tranquil conscience and serene
mind. Communion with God gives it (Ex 34:29, 30).
changed—into a benign expression by
true wisdom (religion) (Jas 3:17).
Maurer translates, "The shining
(brightness) of his face is doubled," arguing that the
Hebrew noun for "boldness" is never used in a bad sense (Pr 4:18). Or as Margin, "strength"
(Ec 7:19; Isa 40:31; 2Co 3:18). But the adjective is used in a bad
2. the king's—Jehovah, peculiarly the
king of Israel in the theocracy; Ec 8:3, 4, prove it is not the earthly king who is
the oath of God—the covenant which God
made with Abraham and renewed with David; Solomon remembered Ps 89:35, "I have sworn," &c.
89:36), and the penalties if
David's children should forsake it (Ps 89:30-32); inflicted on Solomon himself; yet God
not "utterly" forsaking him (Ps 89:33, 34).
3. hasty—rather, "Be not
terror-struck so as to go out of His sight." Slavishly
"terror-struck" is characteristic of the sinner's feeling toward God;
he vainly tries to flee out of His sight (Ps 139:7); opposed to the "shining face" of
filial confidence (Ec 8:1; Joh 8:33-36; Ro 8:2; 1Jo
stand not—persist not.
for he doeth—God inflicts what
punishment He pleases on persisting sinners (Job 23:13; Ps
115:3). True of none save
4. God's very "word" is "power." So the gospel
word (Ro 1:16; Heb 4:12).
who may say, &c.—(Job 9:12; 33:13; Isa 45:9; Da 4:35). Scripture does not ascribe such
arbitrary power to earthly kings.
time—the neglect of the right "times"
causes much of the sinful folly of the spiritually unwise (Ec 3:1-11).
judgment—the right manner [Holden]. But as God's future "judgment" is
connected with the "time for every purpose" in Ec 3:17, so it is here. The punishment of
persisting sinners (Ec 8:3)
suggests it. The wise man realizes the fact, that as there is a fit
"time" for every purpose, so for the "judgment." This thought cheers
him in adversity (Ec 7:14; 8:1).
6. therefore the misery, &c.—because
the foolish sinner does not think of the right "times" and the
7. he—the sinner, by neglecting times
(for example, "the accepted time, and the day of salvation,
2Co 6:2), is taken by surprise by the
judgment (Ec 3:22; 6:12; 9:12). The godly wise observe the due times
of things (Ec
3:1), and so, looking for the
judgment, are not taken by surprise, though not knowing the precise
"when" (1Th 5:2-4);
they "know the time" to all saving purposes (Ro 13:11).
8. spirit—"breath of life" (Ec 3:19), as the words following require. Not
"wind," as Weiss thinks (Pr 30:4). This verse naturally follows the
subject of "times" and "judgment" (Ec 8:6, 7).
discharge—alluding to the liability to
military service of all above twenty years old (Nu 1:3), yet many were exempted (De 20:5-8). But in that war (death) there
is no exemption.
those … given to—literally, the
master of it. Wickedness can get money for the sinner, but
cannot deliver him from the death, temporal and eternal, which is its
penalty (Isa 28:15, 18).
9. his own hurt—The tyrannical ruler
"hurts" not merely his subjects, but himself; so Rehoboam (1Ki
12:1-33); but the "time" of
"hurt" chiefly refers to eternal ruin, incurred by "wickedness," at
"the day of death" (Ec 8:8), and
the "time" of "judgment" (Ec 8:6; Pr 8:36).
10. the wicked—namely, rulers (Ec 8:9).
buried—with funeral pomp by man,
though little meriting it (Jer 22:19);
but this only formed the more awful contrast to their death, temporal
and eternal, inflicted by God (Lu 16:22, 23).
come and gone from the place of the
holy—went to and came from the place of judicature,
where they sat as God's representatives (Ps 82:1-6), with pomp [Holden]. Weiss
translates, "Buried and gone (utterly), even from the holy place
they departed." As Joab, by Solomon's command, was sent to the grave
from the "holy place" in the temple, which was not a sanctuary
to murderers (Ex 21:14; 1Ki 2:28, 31). The use of the very word "bury" there
makes this view likely; still "who had come and gone" may be retained.
Joab came to the altar, but had to go from it; so the
"wicked rulers" (Ec 8:9)
(including high priests) came to, and went from, the
temple, on occasions of solemn worship, but did not thereby escape
11. The reason why the wicked persevere in
sin: God's delay in judgment (Mt 24:48-51; 2Pe 3:8, 9). "They see not the smoke of the
pit, therefore they dread not the fire" [South], (Ps 55:19).
Joab's escape from the punishment of his murder of Abner, so far from
"leading him to repentance," as it ought (Ro 2:4), led him to the additional murder of
12. He says this, lest the sinner should abuse
the statement (Ec 7:15), "A
wicked man prolongeth his life."
before him—literally, "at His
presence"; reverently serve Him, realizing His continual presence.
13. neither shall he prolong—not a
contradiction to Ec 8:12. The
"prolonging" of his days there is only seeming, not real.
Taking into account his eternal existence, his present days, however
seemingly long, are really short. God's delay (Ec 8:11) exists only in man's short-sighted
view. It gives scope to the sinner to repent, or else to fill up his
full measure of guilt; and so, in either case, tends to the final
vindication of God's ways. It gives exercise to the faith, patience,
and perseverance of saints.
shadow—(Ec 6:12; Job 8:9).
14. An objection is here started (entertained
by Solomon in his apostasy), as in Ec 3:16; 7:15, to the truth of retributive justice,
from the fact of the just and the wicked not now receiving always
according to their respective deserts; a cavil, which would seem the
more weighty to men living under the Mosaic covenant of temporal
sanctions. The objector adds, as Solomon had said, that the worldling's
pursuits are "vanity" (Ec 8:10), "I
say (not 'said') this also is vanity. Then I commend
mirth," &c. [Holden]. Ec 8:14, 15 may, however, be explained as
teaching a cheerful, thankful use of God's gifts "under the sun," that
is, not making them the chief good, as sensualists do, which
7:2, forbid; but in "the fear
of God," as Ec 3:12; 5:18; 7:18; 9:7, opposed to the abstinence of the
self-righteous ascetic (Ec 7:16), and
of the miser (Ec 5:17).
15. no better thing, &c.—namely, for
the "just" man, whose chief good is religion, not for the
abide—Hebrew, "adhere"; not
for ever, but it is the only sure good to be enjoyed from
earthly labors (equivalent to "of his labor the days of his
life"). Still, the language resembles the skeptical precept (1Co 15:32), introduced only to be refuted;
and "abide" is too strong language, perhaps, for a religious man to
apply to "eating" and "mirth."
16. Reply to Ec 8:14, 15. When I applied myself to observe man's
toils after happiness (some of them so incessant as not to allow
sufficient time for "sleep"), then (Ec 8:17, the apodosis) I saw that man cannot
find out (the reason of) God's inscrutable dealings with the "just" and
with the "wicked" here (Ec 8:14; Ec 3:11; Job 5:9; Ro
11:33); his duty is to
acquiesce in them as good, because they are God's, though he
sees not all the reasons for them (Ps 73:16). It is enough to know "the righteous
are in God's hand" (Ec 9:1). "Over
7:16); that is, Speculations
above what is written are vain.