Ecclesiastes 8: More Wisdom
October 11, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The discussion about wisdom continues. It starts with a modified positive. “Who is like the wise?” indicating that to be wise is a good thing. But then “who knows the explanation of things?” indicating that no one is really, truly wise. Still, “a person’s wisdom brightens their face.”
This modified positive discussion about wisdom carries on through chapter 8 until it comes to the end—when the penny drops. “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” (Ecc. 8:17). So, “under the sun,” real wisdom is not attainable. And even if someone claims they have attained it, they have not really.
It’s the perspective of the inadequacy of this-sided, human, this-world, “under the sun” wisdom, which pervades this chapter—and this whole discussion about wisdom.
So, it is good to obey the king’s command. In other words, good authority is good for you. It is wise to obey good authority. But “there is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt.” So much of our experience of authority is not good. In fact, “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.” Our authority systems in this world, “under the sun,” do not mete out perfect associations between reward and merit! Given this lack of meaning, or even fairness, that is so often our experience “under the sun,” all the “teacher” can recommend is to enjoy life as much as possible! “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” (Ecc. 8:15).
Again, the message of Ecclesiastes is repetitive because we need it repeated. Even the wisest of people “under the sun” are living a life, even the best of life, that is ultimately meaningless. What then? Seek God first of all, fear God and keep his commandments, and find our meaning in our relationship to him and in following him!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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