Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Praise of true wisdom continued
&c.). "Who" is to be accounted "equal to the wise man? . . .
Who (like him) knoweth the interpretation" of God's providences (for
Ec 7:8, 13, 14),
and God's word (for example, see on
face to shine--
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)
MAURER translates, "The shining
(brightness) of his face is doubled," arguing that the
Hebrew noun for "boldness" is never used in a bad sense
Or as Margin, "strength"
But the adjective is used in a bad sense
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 meant.
the oath of God--the covenant which God made with Abraham and renewed
with David; Solomon remembered
"I have sworn," &c.
and the penalties if David's children should forsake it
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
opposed to the "shining face" of filial confidence
stand not--persist not.
for he doeth--God inflicts what punishment He pleases on persisting
True of none save God.
4. God's very "word" is "power." So the gospel word
who may say, &c.--
(Job 9:12; 33:13;
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
judgment--the right manner [HOLDEN].
But as God's future "judgment"
is connected with the "time for every purpose" in
so it is here. The punishment of persisting sinners
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 "judgment."
7. he--the sinner, by neglecting times (for example, "the accepted
time, and the day of salvation,
is taken by surprise by the judgment
(Ec 3:22; 6:12; 9:12).
The godly wise observe the due times of things
and so, looking for the judgment, are not taken by surprise, though not
knowing the precise "when"
they "know the time" to all saving purposes
8. spirit--"breath of life"
as the words following require. Not "wind," as WEISS thinks
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
yet many were exempted
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
but the "time" of "hurt" chiefly refers to eternal ruin, incurred by
"wickedness," at "the day of death"
and the "time" of "judgment"
10. the wicked--namely, rulers
buried--with funeral pomp by man, though little meriting it
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
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
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"
(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
2Pe 3:8, 9).
"They see not the smoke of the pit, therefore they dread not the fire"
Joab's escape from the punishment of his murder of Abner, so far from
"leading him to repentance," as it ought
led him to the additional murder of Amasa.
12. He says this, lest the sinner should abuse the statement
"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
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
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.
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"
"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
Ec 2:2; 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
and of the miser
15. no better thing, &c.--namely, for the "just" man, whose chief good is religion, not for the worldly.
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
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
the apodosis) I saw that man cannot find out (the reason of) God's
inscrutable dealings with the "just" and with the "wicked" here
his duty is to acquiesce in them as good, because they are
God's, though he sees not all the reasons for them
It is enough to know "the righteous are in God's hand"
that is, Speculations above what is written are vain.