Summary: We can follow the thoughts in Ecclesiastes 1-12 and we be fearful of death or unsettled by it and unnaturally hold onto this physical life or we can realize there is a better way… a wiser way… that takes into account fearing God and our relationship with Him.


Ecclesiastes 8:1-17


READ ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER 8:1-17 [somone from the congregation]


Some people like movies and TV and can quote their favorite characters at the drop of a hat. I can do that sometimes. I do enjoy good stories and movies and TV. Sometimes those that write movies or TV share with us memorable lines that stick with us. Our topic today is ‘death’ which is not necessarily a happy topic, but there are many quotes about death from Hollywood that are memorable.

“Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.” Maximus in Gladiator (Russell Crowe)

“Fear of death is what keeps us alive.” Doctor McCoy in Star Trek Beyond (Karl Urban)

“What are you so afraid of? It’s only death.” Young Bjorn Ironside in Vikings (Nathan OToole)

“God doesn't punish the wicked and reward the righteous. Everyone dies. Some die because they deserve to; others die simply because they come from Minneapolis. It's random and it's meaningless.” Mitch Leary in In the Line of Fire (John Malkovich)

“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” William Wallace in Braveheart (Mel Gibson)

“On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” Narrator in Fight Club (Edward Norton)

"End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it. White shores and beyond. A far green country under a swift sunrise." Gandalf to Pippin in The Return of the King (JRR Tolkein)

Sometimes there are nuggets of truth that come out as human beings write stories and movies and TV shows. Those things are fiction, but the Bible is not fiction and offers us real wisdom when it comes to wise living and even a wise death. We can learn wisdom about death. We can learn what to think and what to believe and how to feel when it comes to this life changing event.


In Ecclesiastes 8, King Solomon talks about submitting to kings and authorities, death, trouble for righteous people, judgment against wicked people, and also the mysteries about the ways of God. He covers a lot I think. The topic of ‘death’ grabbed my attention because King Solomon talks about death a lot. Death shakes his world and makes him jaded and cynical about a whole lot of life.


“For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!”

Solomon thinks that because the wise are wise that they should somehow escape death. But they don’t. Wise folks die. Foolish folks die. This shakes his world because wise good people should somehow be rewarded with longer and better lives, but death comes to us all.


“a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted”

King Solomon looks at life and notices the cycle of birth and living and dying and death. There is a time for everything. This thought, in 3:2, directly connects with our passage today in Ecclesiastes 8.


“For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.”

Solomon looks around creation and notices that it is not just people that die, but animals also die. Human beings do not have any kind of advantage in his mind when it comes to life and death. Animals and plants die. People die. This shakes his world.

In his jadedness about death, he is actually incorrect that human beings and beasts are all the same. Human beings and animals are different. Yes, death comes to both, but it is only the human being that is the imager of God (Genesis 1:27). God created one being on this planet in His image and that is the human being. We bear God’s image and so we are in most ways completely different from animals, but yes, both die.


And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive.

King Solomon in Ecclesiastes airs out his depression about life and death. He shares with us his thoughts and feelings and I don’t know if you know this or not, but depressed feelings make your brain think poorly. You think what you think, but each thought is colored by the depression. We see Solomon struggling in Ecclesiastes in this way. There are days when death shakes him, but then there are days when it seems like being dead is better than living. He struggles with these thoughts.

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