Day 20: Fearing God is a good thing (8:12,13)
“Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.” (8:12,13).
The Preacher expresses in words what we ourselves may have often thought – life is unfair. We know, from earlier in his sermon, the Preacher was well aware when looking at life from the viewpoint of under the sun the wicked often appears to be better off than the righteous. His observations are quite salutary, insofar when bad people die they are praised, despite their wrong doings, and people do wrong because they know they can get away with it: “Yes, I have seen the wicked buried and in their graves, but on the way back from the cemetery people praise them in the very city where they did their evil. It is useless. Why do people commit crimes so readily? Because crime is not punished quickly enough”. (8:10,11 GNT). Yet, according to our text, despite the injustice of it all and especially when taking the view of life beyond the sun, the wicked will get their comeuppance, one way or another (life really is that short) and because he does not fear God.
Having stated his case, the Preacher reverts back to a notion he has promoted, twice already, and considered in other places in scripture e.g.: “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die” Isaiah 22:13; “what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die” 1 Corinthians 15:32. For the Apostle Paul, such is the consequence of there being no resurrection; for the Preacher, it is the notion of the just and the wicked all ending in the same place – dead: “There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity. Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun” (8:14,15). But again, after he wrestles with these matters, he sees things a lot clearer and the way of wisdom comes out on top: “When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it” (8:16,17).
Prayer: We thank you Lord the wisest man who ever lived struggled with the idea bad people seem to get away with being bad, but when he thought about it from your perspective, as the all-wise God, he realised it is best to fear you.