Summary: Ecclesiastes 8


Who is a wise man, according to the Talmud?

He who learns of all men. The Talmud

A wise man is a greater asset to a nation than a king. [Maimonides]

Do not be wise in words alone, but also in deeds. [Talmud]

Everyone whose deeds are more than his wisdom, his wisdom endures; and everyone whose wisdom is more than his deeds, his wisdom does not endure.

-The Talmud

The highest form of wisdom is kindness. The Talmud

Ecclesiastes is part of the Wisdom Books that comprise of Job (self), Psalms (God), Proverbs (man), Ecclesiastes (universe), and Song of Songs (family), so wisdom is not

What kind of wisdom do we need today? How does following God¡¦s word make us wise? Why is wisdom applicable in good and troubled times, before good and bad guys, with good results or not?

Wisdom is the Blueprint of Decisions

1 Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things? A person¡¦s wisdom brightens their face and changes its hard appearance. 2 Obey the king¡¦s command, I say, because you took an oath before God. 3 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. 4 Since a king¡¦s word is supreme, who can say to him, ¡§What are you doing?¡¨ 5 Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. 6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery. 7 Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?

¡§Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.¡¨

― Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1937 architect Frank Lloyd Wright built a house for industrialist Hibbard Johnson. One rainy evening Johnson was entertaining distinguished guests for dinner when the roof began to leak. The water seeped through directly above Johnson himself, dripping steadily onto his bald head. Irate, he called Wright in Phoenix, Arizona. ¡§Frank,¡¨ he said, ¡§you built this beautiful house for me and we enjoy it very much. But I have told you the roof leaks, and right now I am with some friends and distinguished guests and it is leaking right on top of my head.¡¨ Wright¡¦s reply was heard by all of the guests. ¡§Well, Hib, why don¡¦t you move your chair?¡¨

Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute, Jan, 1992, p.14.

Wisdom is not derived from or the domain of a good school, but a godly person.

Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.

Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.


The verb ¡§know¡¨ in verse 1 (941x) appears more than seven times as much as the noun wise (137x) in the Old Testament, more than even wise and wisdom (149x) listed together. Knowledge is a precious commodity in the Bible, lately taken over by feelings and emotions. It is the foundation of experience and education. It is more than content, information or facts itself. From knowledge and experience we get wisdom. The realm of knowledge in the Bible includes knowing good and evil (Gen 3:5), knowing heart and thoughts (Ps 139:23), knowing and acknowledging Him.

In wisdom there is brightness, boldness and blessedness. The next verb ¡§brighten¡¨ (v 1) is translated as give light (Gen 1:15), shine (Num 6:25), enlightened (1 Sam 14:27), break of day (2 Sam 2:32) and glorious (Ps 76:4). It is derived from the noun light (¡§or¡¨). It means to brighten, lighten or glisten. Wisdom therefore makes one¡¦s life bright, bold and bloom (v 1). The clause ¡§changes its hard appearance¡¨ implies that wisdom is pleasant, presentable and peaceable, never provoking, perverse or proud.

The imperative to keep the king¡¦s ¡§command¡¨ is overstated. The noun command in verse 2 is the literally the ¡§mouth¡¨ (peh) of the king. It is translated traditionally as ¡§mouth¡¨ 340 times in the Bible, and ¡§commandment¡¨ merely 37x. When I was in Hong Kong in my first year, I learned a new idiom from a friend who describes how it is like to work for the president of a school: ¡§Tend to a king is like tend to a tiger.¡¨

There are two prohibitive jussives (¡§let us not¡¨) in the chapter ¡V hasty and stand.

Verse 3 has two ¡§not.¡¨ Hasty is never a good thing in the book.

Eccl 5:2 Be not rash

Eccl 7:9 Be not hasty

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