Introduction: How smart are you? Smart enough, right? Are you smart
enough to want to be wise? Smart enough to consider whether there is
any benefit to wisdom? If so, what is the benefit of wisdom? Would you
agree that it helps us to live better lives: not only in keeping out
of trouble, but in helping us to get through trouble when it comes?
This week King Solomon gives us a peek into his view of the benefit of
wisdom. Let’s wisely dive into our study!

  1. Looking and Living Smart

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 8:1. What does it mean to be wise? (For
      one thing, it means that you can explain “things.”)

      1. Can you spot a wise man or woman?

      2. If not, can you spot a foolish man or woman? (Solomon
        suggests that being wise is reflected in your face.
        He says it makes your face less hardened and more
        “bright.” The New Bible Commentary says a “bright
        face” means a gracious demeanor.)

        1. Do you know what Solomon is saying? Have you
          seen this “look” of wisdom? (I absolutely know
          what Solomon is writing about.)

  2. Obedience to Earthly Masters

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 8:2. What oath did you give to the king?
      (As a lawyer, I took an oath to uphold the constitution of
      the United States. Office holders take oaths. Members of
      the military take oaths. People who become citizens of the
      United States(as opposed to being born citizens) take an
      oath of allegiance.)

      1. How important are these oaths? (Solomon says if you
        give your word, then for that reason alone obey the

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 8:3-4. Would this advice apply to
      dealing with your boss? (It would apply to anyone who has
      absolute control over some portion of your life.)

      1. What does it mean to “not stand up for a bad cause?”
        (The context makes it appear that if you oppose the
        king (or your boss) that by definition is a “bad

        1. What about the idea of standing up for what is
          right? (Read Acts 5:29. We must obey God, rather
          than humans. However, Acts refers to matters in
          which obeying “the king” involves moral
          questions. You can give “the king” your point of
          view, but you should avoid being in rebellion
          against the king unless it is a matter of sin.)

        1. What is the difference between being an
          innovator and a rebel in your job? (Sometimes
          this is a fine line. But, when you are directly
          opposing the person with the final authority you
          are being foolish.)

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 8:5-6. If we are told that obedience to
      the “king” will cause us no harm, why does Solomon go on
      to refer to a “proper time and procedure?” (There is a
      proper time and procedure for suggesting that the king is
      going in the wrong direction. Queen Esther (Esther 7) is
      an example of this.)

      1. Why does Solomon, in this context, write about
        “misery” weighing heavily on a person? (You may not
        be enjoying yourself while you wait for the right
        time and proper procedure to get things changed with
        the king.)

  1. Accepting What Cannot be Changed

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 8:7-8. In addition to the difficulty in
      controlling “the king,” what other aspects of our life are
      out of our control? (We cannot really control future
      events in our life or the date of our death.)

      1. When King Solomon refers to “wickedness” not
        releasing us, what is he suggesting about our ability
        to control the future? (Some aspects of our future
        are just out of our hands. Other aspects of our
        future we have the power to influence – at least at
        some point in time. Avoiding wickedness keeps us out
        of the grasp of Satan – who only wants to harm us.
        Living intelligently (healthfully) gives us an
        advantage. However, if we enter into wickedness we
        unleash a series of events which we cannot control.
        If you want a more pleasant future, avoid doing

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 8:9-10. Will wickedness catch up with a
      person during this life? (Sometimes, sometimes not.
      Solomon points out the wicked man who attended church
      regularly and was praised at his funeral.)

  2. Incentives to Right Living

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 8:11-13. In the United States, criminal
      sentences are rarely carried out quickly. Numerous appeals
      are allowed. Individuals sentenced to death for terrible
      murders sometime live for many years on “death row.” How
      does that affect our crime rate, according to Solomon?

      1. Even if the wicked are not caught, or are not
        immediately punished, does crime pay? (Solomon
        affirms that a God-fearing person generally has a
        better life.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 8:14. How can Solomon say that getting
      the wrong reward in life is meaningless? If you are good,
      and you suffer like the wicked, doesn’t that say something
      important about our God? (“Meaningless” is the Hebrew word
      “hebel” which can mean, among other things, “transitory.”
      Thus, things may not turn out exactly right here on earth,
      but God will make them right in heaven.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 8:15. “Eat, drink and be merry, for
      tomorrow we die.” Does that about sum up King Solomon’s
      philosophy? (Not exactly. He has already said that, in
      general, we live better if we obey God. Within the context
      of what Solomon is writing, I would paraphrase it, “Trust
      God, do what is right, eat, drink and take joy in the life
      and the opportunities God has given you, however long God
      has given you.”)

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 8:16-17. What should you say if life
      does not make sense? What should you think about God if
      your life does not make sense? (A theme of the Bible is
      that God is God and we are mere humans – and don’t forget
      it. Solomon says, “Look, even the smartest, wisest guy
      cannot explain all of life. Leave some things to God.”

    5. Friend, God’s wisdom makes your life better. Some of God’s
      wisdom He shares with us. Some, is beyond us. Will you
      seek God’s wisdom and be content to trust God even when
      wisdom is not enough to understand and solve all problems
      in life?

  3. Next week: “Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do.”