Ecclesiastes 8:16
When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the task that one performs on the earth--though his eyes do not see sleep in the day or even in the night--
Man's Busy LifeD. Thomas Ecclesiastes 8:16
Vanity of PhilosophizingJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 8:16, 17

The Preacher was observant, not only of the phenomena and processes of nature, but also of the incidents and transactions of human life. In fact, man was his chief interest and his chief study. He observed the diligence of the laborious; the incessant activity of the scheming, the restless, the acquisitive. How he would have been affected by the spectacle of modern commercial life - say in London or Paris, New York or Vienna - we can only imagine; but as things were then, he was impressed by the marvelous activity and untiring energy which were displayed by his fellow-men in the various avocations of life.

I. MAN'S OWN NATURE AND CONSTITUTION IS ACTIVE. It would be an absurd misrepresentation of man's being to consider him as capable only of feeling and of knowledge. Intellectual and emotional he is; but, possessed of will, he is enterprising, inquiring, and active. Nature does indeed act upon him; but he reacts upon nature, subdues it to his purposes, and impresses upon it his thoughts.

II. MAN'S CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH AS TO CALL FORTH HIS ACTIVITY. Human nature is endowed with wants, which prove, as a matter of fact, to be the means to his most valuable possessions and his chief enjoyments. His bodily necessities urge him to toil; and their supply and satisfaction, in many cases, absorb almost all disposable energy. His intellectual aspirations constrain to much endeavor; curiosity and inquiry prompt to efforts considerable in themselves, and lasting all through life. The family and social relations are the motive to many labors. Could one enter a market, an exchange, a port, and could one not merely witness the movements of body and of features which strike every eye, but penetrate the motives and purposes, the hopes anti fears, which dwell in secret in the breasts of the busy throng, something might be discerned which would furnish a key to the busy activity of life.

III. BUSINESS ACTIVITY IS ACCOMPANIED WITH MANY PERILS. The laborer, the craftsman, the merchant, the lawyer, all have their various employments and interests, which are in danger of becoming engrossing. Perhaps the main temptation of the very busy is towards worldliness. The active and toiling are prone to lose sight of everything which does not contribute to their prosperity, and especially of the higher relations of their being and their immortal prospects. Young men entering upon professional and commercial life need especially to be warned against worldliness, to be reminded that it is possible to gain the whole world, and yet to lose the, soul, the higher and worthier life. A man may become covetous, or at least avaricious; he may lose his sensibilities to what is noblest, purest, and best; he may adopt a lower standard of value, may move upon a lower plane of life.

IV. YET THE LIFE OF CONSTANT ACTIVITY IS DESIGNED BY DIVINE WISDOM TO BE THE MEANS OF SPIRITUAL PROFIT. Like all the appointments of providence, this is disciplinary. Business is not only a temptation, it may be an occasion of progress, a means to moral improvement. A busy man may learn to consecrate his powers to his Creator's service and glory; in the discharge of active duties he may grow in wisdom, in patience, even in self-denial lie may do with his might that which his hand findeth to do, he may redeem the time, he may prepare for the account to be rendered at last of the deeds done in the body. - T.

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.
Viewed by itself, and apart from its context and from the rest of the argument of the wise king, this sentiment might seem to partake very much of the spirit of the Epicureans, so strongly condemned by St. Paul — "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die": but when we come to look closely into it, we find that it would be a manifest perversion of the whole passage to apply it in any such Epicurean sense. The man to whom he refers, as the one who is encouraged "to eat and to drink and to be merry," is not the idle drone whose whole life is spent in self-indulgence, or in the pursuit of pleasure; not the Dives who fares sumptuously every day while so many around have scarcely wherewithal to purchase the scanty meal — but he, whose whole attention has been hitherto absorbed in some toilsome and laborious pursuit; he who has, so to speak, been the slave of wealth, or ambition, or pleasure, or business — the seeker after worldly wisdom — or, in fine, the man so filled with anxiety and care about the objects of his desire, as to need this salutary warning how better to employ his days. Thus, if we might venture to paraphrase the passage, we should assume it to bear some such an import as the following: — "Be not so wrapt up in the cares or concerns of this life, oh! ye foolish sons of men, as to forget the grand end and aim of your being. There are, indeed, many things well worthy of your attainment, but none of so solid and enduring a character as to justify your total absorption in the pursuit of them. Lose not the real enjoyment of life by devoting it thus unremittingly to any earthly end. While thus toiling to secure some fancied good, you are really allowing to escape those fleeting moments which should be devoted to some loftier purpose. Aim first and chiefly to attain the heavenly wisdom, for 'this alone will bring peace at the last.' And then, with regard to all earthly schemes of happiness, let not your pursuit of the problematic future deprive you of the lawful enjoyment of present good, but 'having food and raiment be therewith content.' 'Eat, drink and be merry.' Cultivate a cheerful and a happy frame of mind, as opposed to that gloomy, over-anxious, ever-toiling disposition, which you now possess — as is the cold, cheerless mantle of night to the glow and warmth of the midday sun — for this calm and tranquil state shall abide with you, and give you enjoyment in the midst of your labour all the days of your life which God giveth you under the sun." And who does not perceive the consonance of this advice with the more plain and direct teaching of our Lord and His inspired apostles? Who does not recognize in this Old Testament warning the foreshadowing of those deep and wholesome truths which Christ announced in tits famous sermon from the Mount? "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" But rather "seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Who does not trace in the language of Solomon the workings of that same Spirit which inspired St. Paul to say, "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" — "Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice"? Not, then, in antagonism to the spirit of the New Testament, but in perfect accordance with it, does Solomon, in the words of my text, recommend the rational enjoyment of the good things of this life. In what, then, does rational enjoyment or recreation consist? I think we may safely answer this question by the obvious reply — "In the moderate use of all the gifts of God's good providence, and in the healthful cultivation of all these faculties the improvement of which can tend to His honour or glory." Under this head, then, as you will perceive, so far as bodily refection is concerned, we should include the temperate use of all healthful articles, whether of food or of drink. "Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth a man." God makes no distinction either of meats or drinks, provided we use all lawfully, to the just refreshment and strengthening of the body, not to its undue pampering, or mere carnal gratification. And so, also, with regard to questions of bodily or mental recreation. Healthful exercise, whether for the body or mind, may allowably be included under the Preacher's commendation of rational "mirth." The Scriptures have net prescribed to us what species of mirth to select, nor what to avoid. They have evidently left it as a matter of conscience, to the feelings and experience of every Christian, to choose his own most appropriate mode of rejoicing, provided, as in the former case, that even allowable mirth be not carried beyond the limits of moderation, and degenerate into senseless hilarity. It is true that St. James exhorts, "Is any merry? let him sing psalms": but this advice is more of the nature of a permission than a command; and it is clearly evident, that with very many the literal interpretation of this precept, if it be correctly translated, would be impracticable, seeing that they are altogether devoid of musical tendencies. This passage, then, so far from limiting, as it has been supposed to do, the exhibition of our cheerful tendencies to psalm-singing alone, seems to me to make quite for the opposite view, and would apparently sanction the employment of any musical agency, and, by a parity of reasoning, of any other equally harmless and humanizing source of amusement as a justifiable mode of exhibiting a mirthful spirit before the Lord.

(F F. Statham, B. A.).

Applied, Business, Heart, Labor, Man's, Mind, Observe, One's, Seeing, Sees, Sleep, Spectator, Task, Though, Wisdom
1. true wisdom is modest
2. Kings are to be respected
6. Divine providence is to be observed
12. It is better with the godly in adversity, than with the wicked in prosperity
16. The work of God is unsearchable

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ecclesiastes 8:16

     5038   mind, the human
     5057   rest, physical
     8674   study

Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

     5441   philosophy
     5940   searching
     8366   wisdom, source of

Misused Respite
'Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil'--ECCLES. viii. 11. When the Pharaoh of the Exodus saw there was respite, he hardened his heart. Abject in his fear before Moses, he was ready to promise anything; insolent in his pride, he swallows down his promises as soon as fear is eased, his repentance and his retractation of it combined to add new weights about his neck. He was but a conspicuous example of
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Five Fears
Now, you will notice that fear may be yoked into the service of God. True fear, not fearing, but believing, saves the soul; not doubt, but confidence, is the strength and the deliverance of the Christian. Still, fear, as being one of those powers which God hath given us, is not in itself sinful. Fear may be used for the most sinful purposes; at the same time it may be so ennobled by grace, and so used for the service of God, that it may become the very grandest part of man. In fact, Scripture has
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857

The Wicked Man's Life, Funeral, and Epitaph
We shall this morning want you, first of all, to walk with a living man; it is said of him that he did "come and go from the place of the holy:" next, I shall want you to attend his funeral, and then, in conclusion I shall ask you to assist in writing his epitaph--"and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this also is vanity." I. In the first place, HERE IS SOME GOOD COMPANY FOR YOU; some with whom you may walk to the house of God, for it is said of them, that they did come and
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

Whether Christ Should have Been Circumcised?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ should not have been circumcised. For on the advent of the reality, the figure ceases. But circumcision was prescribed to Abraham as a sign of the covenant concerning his posterity, as may be seen from Gn. 17. Now this covenant was fulfilled in Christ's birth. Therefore circumcision should have ceased at once. Objection 2: Further, "every action of Christ is a lesson to us" [*Innoc. III, Serm. xxii de Temp.]; wherefore it is written (Jn. 3:15): "I have given
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether in Loving God we Ought to Observe any Mode?
Objection 1: It would seem that we ought to observe some mode in loving God. For the notion of good consists in mode, species and order, as Augustine states (De Nat. Boni iii, iv). Now the love of God is the best thing in man, according to Col. 3:14: "Above all . . . things, have charity." Therefore there ought to be a mode of the love of God. Objection 2: Further, Augustine says (De Morib. Eccl. viii): "Prithee, tell me which is the mode of love. For I fear lest I burn with the desire and love of
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

i. editions of chrysostom's works. S. Joannis Chrysostomi, archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, Opera omnia quæ exstant vel quæ ejus nomine circumferuntur, ad mss. codices Gallicos, Vaticanos, Anglicos, Germanicosque castigata, etc. Opera et studio D.Bernardi de Montfaucon, monachi ordinis S. Benedicti e congregatione S. Mauri, opem ferentibus aliis ex codem sodalitio, monachis. Greek and Latin, Paris, 1718-'38, in 13 vols., fol. This is the best edition, and the result of about twenty
St. Chrysostom—On the Priesthood

Concerning Jonathan, one of the Sicarii, that Stirred up a Sedition in Cyrene, and was a False Accuser [Of the Innocent].
1. And now did the madness of the Sicarii, like a disease, reach as far as the cities of Cyrene; for one Jonathan, a vile person, and by trade a weaver, came thither and prevailed with no small number of the poorer sort to give ear to him; he also led them into the desert, upon promising them that he would show them signs and apparitions. And as for the other Jews of Cyrene, he concealed his knavery from them, and put tricks upon them; but those of the greatest dignity among them informed Catullus,
Flavius Josephus—The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem

A Few Sighs from Hell;
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

It is not surprising that the book of Ecclesiastes had a struggle to maintain its place in the canon, and it was probably only its reputed Solomonic authorship and the last two verses of the book that permanently secured its position at the synod of Jamnia in 90 A.D. The Jewish scholars of the first century A.D. were struck by the manner in which it contradicted itself: e.g., "I praised the dead more than the living," iv. 2, "A living dog is better than a dead lion," ix. 4; but they were still more
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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