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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
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.
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
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, 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"
as the words following require. Not "wind," as WEISS thinks
This verse naturally follows the subject of "times" and "judgment"
(Ec 8:6, 7).
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
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 Amasa.
12. He says this, lest the sinner should abuse the statement
"A wicked man prolongeth his life."
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" (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 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 (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 worldly.
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 wise" (Ec 7:16); that is, Speculations above what is written are vain.