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Ecclesiastes Chapter Eight, The Limits Of Wisdom...

In our study of Ecclesiastes chapter eight, we will look at the fact that man cannot comprehend all of the ways of God. We will see how Solomon, the wisest man the world has ever known, came to this conclusion.

Ecclesiastes 8:1

"Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance." NIV translation

In chapter 7, Solomon compared following the ways of the world to the wisdom of following the ways of God. Now, he reminds us that true wisdom can only come from being in the presence of God. The brightening of the face reminds us of what happened to Moses as he was on the mountain with God. When he came down, his face shined because of the glory of God. We may not go up a mountain to meet God like Moses did but He has still made a way for us to enter His presence through the study of His word, through prayer, and through the living presence of the Holy Spirit in us. We should ask ourselves whether that presence changes our "hard appearance" because, if it has not, then, we have probably not really been in the presence of God.

Ecclesiastes 8:2 & 3

"Obey the king's command, I say, because you took an oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave the king's presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases." NIV translation

Although Solomon may have been speaking of an earthly king, he is probably speaking of using the wisdom that God has given us.

He urges us to want to stay in the king's presence speaking of the desire to have God guide every aspect of our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

He speaks to the fact that we must take to heart the fact that God is right and just in all of His ways even when we do not understand them. As the Creator/Owner of all things, God has the authority to do whatever He wants and does not need our counsel.

Ecclesiastes 8:4 - 6

"Since a king's word is supreme, who can say to him, 'What are you doing?' Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him." NIV translation

Just as the people in an earthly kingdom must obey their king or face the consequences, so it is with God. He gave us free will and will let us make choices as to whether we listen to the Spirit or not. If we listen, He will protect us; if we do not, we can get ourselves into situations that can cause us harm. The "proper time and procedure" refers to the fact that we can take everything to God in prayer but, when He gives us an answer, we must obey for our own good whether it is the answer we wanted or not.

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