Ecclesiastes chapter 8. As Solomon continues to process his thoughts on the benefits of wisdom, he comes up against the problem of evil. The existence of evil in our world is not generally one that godless people (unbelievers) concern themselves with. Those who don’t know God may not like evil, but it is what it is. The problem of evil lies with people of faith. If God is good and loving, why is evil allowed to fester in our world, and why is there so much suffering?
Warren Wiersbe explores the problem of evil in three areas: Authority (8:1-9); Inequity (8:10-14); Mystery (8:15-17)
Rulers have oppressed good citizens since the time of Nimrod (Genesis 10). Ancient rulers weren’t elected democratically. They held the power of life and death over their subjects. Rulers were sovereign and each ruler believed that he or she made no wrong decrees.
But what if a ruler asks an officer to do something evil? Should he:
- Be disobedient (v2) – Solomon advises to keep kings command. Be loyal (he made an oath to serve the ruler. Following orders avoids punishment
- Consider desertion (v3) – Officer risks punishment or worse. Desertion would preserve his character.
- Be defiant (v3) – Solomon advises not to get involved with a plot to overthrow the king. Is there a time and place for defiance? In Acts 3:29 Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Christians must obey their consciences. Disagreement demands “wisdom and grace.”
- Use discernment (v5-6) – Understanding proper time and procedure (text uses judgment) under which the officer can operate. The lives of Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, Nehemiah in Persia demonstrate the use of discernment (James 1:5; 3:17-18)
The righteous get what wicked deserve, wicked what the righteous deserve. The example we are given is of a deceased man who routinely visited the temple. He had not lived a godly life but praise was heaped upon him. The truly godly people of the city were ignored or forgotten.
Mankind continues to sin because it can be gotten away with. God is viewed as being asleep at the helm. However, God is long-suffering and doesn’t judge sinners immediately (2 Peter 3:1-12).
There will be a judgment of the wicked, rewards for righteous
“The person who has to know everything, or who thinks he knows everything is destined for disappointment in this world.” Wiersbe
Will Durant, a historian, concluded, “Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance.”
If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know 1 Corinthians 8:2
Solomon admonishes us for the 4th time to enjoy life and the fruits of our labor.
Solomon does not reject wisdom; instead, he finds it necessary and useful to get the most out of life.