Working with the Government
Introduction: How do people view the government? What are some common frustrations with it?
Solomon gives some advice for how to respond to those in authority especially when things do not go our way!
A. SUBMIT TO AUTHORITIES FOR GOD'S SAKE 1. Obey the king's command - 8:2-3 2. Respect his power, and you will be unharmed - 8:4-5a 3. A wise man will understand that judgment will come in it's own time, so don't resort to wickedness (i.e., rebellion) to alleviate misery - 8:5b-9 -- Compare this counsel with that given to Christians - Ro 13: 1-7; 1 Pe 2:11-17 Romans 13:1-7 (NASB95)1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
1 Peter 2:13-17 (NASB95)13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
B. ANTICIPATE WICKED RULERS 1. There will be times when men rule to their own detriment - 8:9 2. But they will soon be forgotten after their demise - 8:10 3. Why do some persist in their evil rule? Because their judgment does not occur immediately - 8:11 4. Even so, it is still better to fear God - 8:12-13 C. EXPECT TO BE PERPLEXED 1. Sometimes the righteous suffer, and the wicked prosper - 8:14 2. One cannot always understand why things happen the way they do (remember Job?) - 8:16-17 D. ENJOY LIFE 1. Delight in the fruits of your own labor - 8:15 2. Which is the advice given throughout this book - 2:24-26; 3:12-13; 5:18-20 Why do you think that this is such a reoccurring theme? How does Solomon seem to come full circle from verse 1 to verse 17 in regards to the wise man? a. Enduring the governments of men by: 1) Submitting to authorities for God's sake 2) Understanding that wicked rulers will occur 3) Expecting to be perplexed at times 4) Enjoying our life as God gives us opportunity There is little value in getting all worked up about the inequities inthe governments of men. As long as there are imperfect men, there will be imperfect governments. It is better to simply obey the laws, do good, trust in God, and enjoy the fruits of one's labor.
Ecclesiastes 8:1-17 (NCV)1 No one is like the wise person who can understand what things mean. Wisdom brings happiness; it makes sad faces happy. 2 Obey the king’s command, because you made a promise to God. 3 Don’t be too quick to leave the king. Don’t support something that is wrong, because the king does whatever he pleases. 4 What the king says is law; no one tells him what to do. 5 Whoever obeys the king’s command will be safe. A wise person does the right thing at the right time. 6 There is a right time and a right way for everything, yet people often have many troubles. 7 They do not know what the future holds, and no one can tell them what will happen. 8 No one can control the wind or stop his own death. No soldier is released in times of war, and evil does not set free those who do evil. 9 I saw all of this as I considered all that is done here on earth. Sometimes people harm those they control. 10 I saw the funerals of evil people who used to go in and out of the holy place. They were honored in the same towns where they had done evil. This is useless, too. 11 When evil people are not punished right away, it makes others want to do evil, too. 12 Though a sinner might do a hundred evil things and might live a long time, I know it will be better for those who honor God. 13 I also know it will not go well for evil people, because they do not honor God. Like a shadow, they will not last. 14 Sometimes something useless happens on earth. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. I say that this is also useless. 15 So I decided it was more important to enjoy life. The best that people can do here on earth is to eat, drink, and enjoy life, because these joys will help them do the hard work God gives them here on earth. 16 I tried to understand all that happens on earth. I saw how busy people are, working day and night and hardly ever sleeping. 17 I also saw all that God has done. Nobody can understand what God does here on earth. No matter how hard people try to understand it, they cannot. Even if wise people say they understand, they cannot; no one can really understand it.
Ecclesiastes 8:1-17 (NASB95)
1 Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam. 2 I say, “Keep the command of the king because of the oath before God. 3 “Do not be in a hurry to leave him. Do not join in an evil matter, for he will do whatever he pleases.” 4 Since the word of the king is authoritative, who will say to him, “What are you doing?” 5 He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure. 6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him. 7 If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen? 8 No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it. 9 All this I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been done under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his hurt. 10 So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out from the holy place, and they are soon forgotten in the city where they did thus. This too is futility. 11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. 12 Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. 13 But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God. 14 There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility. 15 So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun. 16 When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night), 17 and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.