Human Government Demonstrates Limitations of Wisdom
8:1 Who is a wise person? Who knows the solution to a problem?
A person’s wisdom brightens his appearance, and softens his harsh countenance.
8:2 Obey the king’s command,
because you took an oath before God to be loyal to him.
8:3 Do not rush out of the king’s presence in haste—do not delay when the matter is unpleasant,
for he can do whatever he pleases.
8:4 Surely the king’s authority is absolute;
no one can say to him, “What are you doing?”
8:5 Whoever obeys his command will not experience harm,
and a wise person knows the proper time and procedure.
8:6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
for the oppression of the king is severe upon his victim.
8:7 Surely no one knows the future,
and no one can tell another person what will happen.
8:8 Just as no one has power over the wind to restrain it,
so no one has power over the day of his death.
Just as no one can be discharged during the battle,
so wickedness cannot rescue the wicked.
8:9 While applying my mind to everything that happens in this world, I have seen all this:
Sometimes one person dominates other people to their harm.
Contradictions to the Law of Retribution
8:10 Not only that, but I have seen the wicked approaching and entering the temple,
and as they left the holy temple, they
boasted in the city that they had done so.
This also is an enigma.
‘The verse is a difficult one to translate; but the meaning seems to be that wicked men got a reputation for piety because they attended the temple or synagogue regularly, and at the end of their lives were given a splendid funeral. If this life were all, then such facts as these would suggest that there is no meaning in the whole business, that it is all “vanity”, since the wicked fare as well as the righteous, perhaps even better.’ (F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, p26)