Ecclesiastes 8:2–9 (NKJV)
2 I say, “Keep the king’s commandment for the sake of your oath to God. 3 Do not be hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand for an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him.” 4 Where the word of a king is, there is power;
And who may say to him, “What are you doing?” 5 He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful; And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment, 6 Because for every matter there is a time and judgment,
Though the misery of man increases greatly.
7 For he does not know what will happen; So who can tell him when it will occur? 8 No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, And no one has power in the day of death. There is no release from that war, And wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it.
9 All this I have seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun: There is a time in which one man rules over another to his own hurt.
Another place of futility of which Solomon writes is the area of government. Especially in Biblical days, the king’s authority was absolute, a monarchy. God had warned against asking for a king, yet they did it anyway, and God said that their kings would rule over them with an iron hand. Therefore, Solomon continues that tradition by saying that no one should disobey the commandment of the king, because they promised as a nation that they would. Don’t walk away from him and talk behind his back. Keep his words for your own profit and help. Even if misery increases, God expected them to obey the king.
The second topic in this passage relates to the fact that man has no control over death or the timing of it. The war between death and life will be fought, and death will eventually win. Do not hate it, but understand it and be at peace. Finally, Solomon encourages others that being king or a leader is not always easy, and definitely not always fun, and can even be hurtful to the leader. This is not necessarily a reason not to lead, but rather a reason to lead with understanding and not fear.
Solomon’s words can apply to our being good citizens, praying for our national, state, and local leaders, not cursing them or breaking the law. At times, it is difficult to support someone who appears evil or wicked, but it is for the good of the country that one support their leadership and keep law and order. No doubt, Israel became a bloodthirsty nation and assassinated kings, tearing down kingdoms and setting others up. Nations today seem to be following that sad and unnecessary example. If righteous leaders will follow God’s plan, nations will be blessed and followers will be joyous and have no need to rebel. The problem is that evil men and women rise to power and the followers are oppressed and put down. God, give us revival and rulers that will rule by your wisdom. Help us to accept our fates and live with joy, not hating the day of death, but enjoying the days of life. Amen.