Obey Rulers

Who is like the wise man?
And who knows the interpretation of a matter?
A man’s wisdom illumines his face,
And causes his stern face to beam.

I counsel you to keep the command of the king because of the oath before God [by which you swore loyalty to him].(A) Do not be in a hurry to get out of his presence. Do not join in a malevolent matter, for the king will do whatever he pleases.

For the word of a king is authoritative and powerful,
And who will say to him, “What are you doing?”

Whoever keeps and observes a royal command will experience neither trouble nor misery;
For a wise heart will know the [a]proper time and [appropriate] procedure.

For there is a [b]proper time and [appropriate] procedure for every delight,
Though mankind’s misery and trouble lies heavily upon him [who rebels against the king].

For no one knows what will happen;
So who can tell him how and when it will happen?

There is no man who has power and authority over the wind to restrain the wind,
Nor does he have authority over the day of death;
There is no discharge [from service] during time of war,
And evil will not rescue those who [actively seek to] practice it.

All this I have seen while applying my mind to every deed that is done under the sun. There is a time in which one man has exercised power over others to their detriment.

10 So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out of the holy place [but did not thereby escape their doom], and they are [praised in spite of their evil and] soon forgotten in the city where they did such things. This too is futility (vanity, emptiness). 11 Because the sentence against an evil act is not executed quickly, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his life [seemingly] is prolonged [in spite of his wickedness], still I know that it will be well with those who [reverently] fear God, who fear and worship Him openly [realizing His omnipresence and His power].(B) 13 But it will not be well for the evil man, nor will he lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.©

14 There is a meaningless and futile thing which is done on the earth: that is, there are righteous men whose gain is as though they were evil, and evil men whose gain is as though they were righteous. I say that this too is futility (meaningless, vain). 15 Then I commended pleasure and enjoyment, because a man [without God] has no better thing under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be merry, for this will stand by him in his toil through the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to see the activities [of mankind] that take place upon the earth—how some men seem to sleep neither day nor night— 17 and I saw all the work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work that is done under the sun. Even though man may labor in seeking, he will not discover; and [more than that], though a wise man thinks and claims he knows, he will not be able to find it out.(D)


  1. Ecclesiastes 8:5 Lit time and judgment.
  2. Ecclesiastes 8:6 Lit time and judgment.

Cross references

  1. Ecclesiastes 8:2 : 2 Sam 21:7
  2. Ecclesiastes 8:12 : Ps 37:11, 18, 19; Is 3:10, 11; Matt 25:34
  3. Ecclesiastes 8:13 : Matt 25:41
  4. Ecclesiastes 8:17 : Deut 29:29; Rom 11:33