Ecclesiastes 8:4
For the king's word is supreme, and who can say to him, "What are you doing?"
The King's WordT. Spurgeon.Ecclesiastes 8:4
The Word of a KingEcclesiastes 8:4
Allegiance of SubjectsJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 8:2-5
The Ruler and the SubjectD. Thomas Ecclesiastes 8:2-5

It is possible that some persons, living under a form of government very different from that presumed in the admonitions of this passage - under a limited monarchy or a republic instead of under an absolute monarchy of a special theocratic kind - may fancy that these verses have no special significance for them, no applicability to the practical conduct of their actual life. But reflection may show us that this is not so, that there are valuable principles of interest and import for the civil life of all men.

I. CIVIL AUTHORITY IS IN ITSELF OF DIVINE ORIGIN, AND POSSESSES DIVINE SANCTIONS. The king, the king's word, commandment, and pleasure, are all significant of order in society, of that great reality and power in human affairs - the state. "Order is Heaven's first law." Right does not, indeed, grow out of civil authority, but it is its Divine basis. That kingship has often become tyranny, and democracy mob-rule, that every form of government may be abused, is known to every student of history, to every reader of the newspapers. But law in itself is good, and its maintenance is the only security for public liberty. One of the first duties of a religious teacher is to impress upon the people the sacredness of civil authority, to inculcate reverence for law, to encourage to good citizenship. He is not called upon to flatter the great and powerful, to repress discussion, to enjoin servility. But that freedom which is the condition of the true development of national life, and which can only be preserved by reverence for rightful authority, for constitutional government, should be dear to every Christian, and should be held in honor by every Christian teacher and preacher. "The powers that be are ordained of God."

II. WISE PATRIOTISM LEADS TO CHEERFUL OBEDIENCE AND SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY. Law for the most part is designed to repress crime, to maintain peace and tranquility, to afford protection to the honest, industrious, and law-abiding. Therefore to commit wrong of any kind, whether theft, or slander, or violence, is both evil in itself and is transgression of the law. A man who simply contents himself with breaking no civil law may indeed be a villain, for civil law is not all; there is a Divine Law which the civil ruler is not bound to enforce. But the bad citizen cannot be a good Christian; to break the laws of the state is not likely to lead to obedience to the commandments of the King of kings. It is, indeed, not to be expected that a man should approve of every command of the king, of every law which is enforced in his country. But if every man were to refuse to obey every statute of which he disapproved, how could government be carried on? The wonderful word of Christ is decisive, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." Where no Divine ordinance is violated by conforming to civil law, the duty of the subject, the citizen, is plain; be should obey. He is, of course, at liberty under a constitutional government to use means of an honorable kind to secure a change of law. It is a grand word of the Preacher, "Whoso keepeth the commandment shall know no evil thing."

III. LOYALTY TO EARTHLY, HUMAN AUTHORITY IS SUGGESTIVE OF LOYALTY TO GOD. When submission is enjoined, it is supported by a religious motive - "and that in regard of the oath of God." It is evident that the authority of a parent or a ruler, the subjection of a child or a citizen, are intended to symbolize the even higher facts of the spiritual kingdom - the empire of the "King, eternal, immortal, and invisible," and the loyalty of those who by the new birth have entered "the kingdom of heaven." - T.

Where the word of a king ii there is power.
The reference is, doubtless, to certain kings who lived in ancient times, perchance, for instance, to Solomon himself. But we speak to-day not of an earthly ruler, but of a heavenly. There is another King, one Jesus, who shares with His Father the throne of the universe, whose word stands fast for ever. May we love Him so well, and trust Him so perfectly, that His word, whatever it is, shall have due power with us. There is power in it, and we shall do well to yield to it at once. Happy the subjects of this holy King whose word while it is powerful is always sweet, and true, and tender.

I. THROUGHOUT HIS VAST DOMINIONS THE WORD OF GOD AND CHRIST EXERCISES INDISPUTABLE AND IRRESISTIBLE INFLUENCE. How small are the kingdoms of this earth, how great and glorious are the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. I know that as yet we see not all things put under Him, but even now the sun never sets upon His kingdom, and countless worlds, for aught we know, are rolling towards His feet. He is already "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords." Alike in nature, providence and grace, He sits supreme. He is ordaining end ordering all things. Let your doubts and fears be gone; He fainteth not, neither is He weary, He is neither sleeping nor hunting, nor journeying. His sceptre is still in His hand, and the hand is not shrunken nor feeble. While God lives and reigns all is well!

II. THE WORD OF A KING HAS POWER — SPECIAL POWER, PERHAPS — IN HIS THRONE ROOM. If God's word and Christ's have power in any place, they may be supposed to have special influence in the very centre of His palace. There He sits at His Father's side, sharing the Father's glory, rejoicing in His well-deserved renown; His word has power there if nowhere else. Elsewhere, rebellion may seek to lift its hideous head, but not there. The angels wait upon Him, bright servitors, whose only joy it is to fly at His command, to do His bidding, whatever it may be. The spirits of just men made perfect circle round Him, serving Him day and night in His temple; men and women, aye, and little children too, rejoice to run the errands of the King, and so to show their love; while mysterious living creatures bow before His face and help to swell the anthem that ever rises to His praise.

III. EVEN WHEN THE KING WAS TRAVELLING IN DISGUISE THERE WAS STILL POWER IN HIS WORD. He was King of hearts; He summoned men to join His train with just that irresistible "Follow Me." He was King of the elements, so that the winds and waves hearkened to His voice, and laid themselves to rest like cowed beasts within their lairs. He was King of disease, so that however virulent or longstanding, it fled and ceased at His command. He was King of death: "Lazarus, co, me forth," He cried, with a loud voice, and Lazarus came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes. He was King of Satan, for though the devil bade Him fall at his feet and worship him, Christ got the victory again and again. He was King of sin, for only He could say to those who had long been dead in trespasses and sins, "Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee." He was a King, every inch of Him, from His cradle to His grave.

IV. THE WORD OF A KING HAS SPECIAL POWER IN HIS AUDIENCE CHAMBER. In the palace of which I speak, there is an apartment set aside for the special purpose of holding interviews with those who would petition the king. To it subjects of every name, and race, and degree, are always welcome; nay, our King, if I may so say, sits even in the gate, so that applicants who have not boldness to venture to the palace can still approach Him. There He stretches out His silver sceptre, welcoming all who have petitions to present and pleas to urge. In this audience chamber the word of the King has power. He permits you to pray, and that permit none can cancel. He gladly hears your arguments, and if they are such as He has prompted, they will avail with Him. There is power in His word of promise; He has never recalled one. He has never failed to fulfil one. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." He may keep you waiting a little while, according to His wisdom, but the blessing is already on the wing. If your heart is open for it, it will soon come fluttering in.

V. THE WORD OF A KING IS HEARD IN HIS BANQUETING HALL. Jesus is never so happy as when He feasts His saints. He loves them to commune with Him, he rejoices when their meditation of Him is sweet, and when, instead so much of speaking to Him, they employ their spiritual powers in hearing and listening to His voice. There is power in every word He speaks, power in the invitation that He issues, and in the welcome that He utters to all. What a knack He has of making His guests feel at home. How readily He sets them at their ease. How charmingly He makes them understand that all that He has is theirs, that the good things on the table are net for ornament, but can be taken, tasted and enjoyed.

VI. THERE IS POWER IS THE KING'S WORD, MOREOVER, ON THE BATTLEFIELD. "The Lord is a Man of war; the Lord is His name." He fights, as we do, with weapons that are not carnal but spiritual. There is a sword that goeth out of His mouth, that is the word of the King's power. It strikes terror like a barbed arrow into the hearts of the King's enemies. When He sounds His battle cry, even Midian is put to confusion and to flight. On this same battlefield He inspires His followers. If He says "Up guards and at them," though we be but a thin red line, we will charge the serried ranks of the enemy. If He bids us lie in the trenches, though it may not be such congenial work, we will do it, for there is a power in His word we dare not resist. There is, moreover, enabling power in it. We can hold ourselves in reserve if God bids us do so. If He sends us out on pioneer work, or on sentry-go — this is lonely work — we will do either, for there will be sufficient grace whatever the King's orders are. His very word is omnipotent, and we are omnipotent if we obey it!

VII. THERE IS POWER IN THE KING'S WORD IN FOREIGN COURTS. We talk about "the Great Powers of Europe." Comparatively speaking they are powerful, with their armies and their navies and their armaments and exchequers, but oh, there is a greater Power than all of these of both worlds rolled into one. And we are servants of that great Power, ambassadors of God who, in Christ's stead warn arid rebuke and beseech.

(T. Spurgeon.)

Kings in Solomon's day had a vast amount of power, for their word was absolute. When such a monarch happened to be wise and good, it was a great blessing to the people; for "a king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes." But if he was of a hard, tyrannical nature, his subjects were mere slaves, and groaned beneath a yoke of iron. We do not sufficiently give thanks for the blessings of a constitutional government. There is, however, one King whose power we do not wish in any degree to limit or circumscribe. God doeth as He wills amongst the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of this lower world; none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? In this we greatly rejoice.

I. First, we would see the power of the word of the Lord in order TO EXCITE OUR AWE OF HIM. What are we poor creatures of a day? Man proposes, but God disposes; man resolves, but God dissolves; that which man expecteth, God rejecteth; for the word of the Lord standeth for ever, but man passes away and is not. Think of the day before all days when there was no day but the Ancient of Days, and when God dwelt all alone; then He willed in His mind that there should be a world created. "He spake, and it was done: He commanded, and it stood fast." When the Lord created He used no hand of cherubim or seraphim: all that we read in the sublimely simple record of Genesis is, "God said, let there be," and there was. His word accomplished all, and when He wills to destroy either one man or a million His word is able to work His will. Oh, how we ought to worship Thee, thou dread Supreme, upon whose word life and death are made to hang! I might in another division of this part of my subject remind you of the power which attends both His promises and His threatenings. God has never promised without performing in due time to the last jot and tittle. Hath He said, and shall He not do it? Hath He commanded, and shall it not come to pass? There is power in God's word to foretell, so that, when He tells what is to be in the future, we know that it shall come to pass. "Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate." Thus saith the Lord, "I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." In the word of the Lord also there is power to predestinate as well as to foretell, so that what He decrees is fixed and certain. "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand." Let us worship the great Ordainer, Benefactor, and Ruler, whose every word is the word of a King, in which there is power.

II. Secondly, we would think of the power of God's word in order TO ENSURE OUR OBEDIENCE TO IT. Whenever God gives a word of command it comes to us clothed with authority, and its power over our minds should be immediate and unquestioned. The sole authority in the Church is Christ Himself: He is the Head of His Church, and His word is the only authority by which we are ruled. Every precept that He gives lie intends us to keep; He does not ordain it that we may question it; He commands that we may obey. Let me refer you to what Solomon says in ver. 2: "I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment." This is admirable counsel for every Christian: if the commandment were of the wisest of men, we might break it, and perhaps do right in breaking it; but if it be the King who gives the command, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the King in Zion, then the advice of the Preacher is wise and weighty. Solomon goes on to say, "Be not hasty to go out of His sight." There is such power in God's word that I would have you also obey this precept, and seek to remain in His presence. Walk in communion with Christ in whatever path He may point out to you. Never mind how rough it is: do not imagine it is the wrong road because it is so rough; rather reckon it to be right because it is rough, for seldom do smoothness and rightness go together. Oh, to abide in Christ the Word, and to have His word abiding in us! Solomon then says, "Stand not in an evil thing." There is such power in the word of God that He can readily destroy you, or heavily chastise you, therefore be quick to amend, and "stand not in an evil thing." Repent, obey, submit, confess, seek pardon at once.

III. And now, thirdly, To INSPIRE OUR CONFIDENCE, let us think that "where the word of a king is, there is power." If there is a heart here that is seeking mercy, if you can go before God with such a promise as this in your mouth, "Let the wicked forsake his way," etc., that word of His is not a mere sound, there is the power of truth in it. If you do what He there bids you do you shall find that He can and will abundantly pardon. Do you tell me that you cannot conquer your evil passions and corrupt desires? Here is a promise from the word of the Lord, "From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." Now come and plead these precious promises, there is power in them, they are the words of a King, and if you plead them at the mercy-seat you shall become a new creature in Christ Jesus: old things shall pass away; all things shall become new. And are there any of you who are struggling at this time with a remaining corruption which you cannot conquer? Now come and lay hold of the promise that you shall overcome, and plead it before the mercy-seat. If you do but get any promise of God suited to your case, make quick use of it, for there is power in it; it is the word of a King! Then, also, are there any of you in great trouble? Remember His word, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all." Go and tell him that He has thus spoken, and that He has therein pledged Himself to deliver you out of all afflictions: and be sure of this, He will be as good as His word. Do you expect soon to die? Are you somewhat distressed because sickness is undermining your constitution? Be not afraid, for His Spirit teaches you to sing, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."

IV. I address myself to all people of God who are associated in Church-fellowship, and striving to do the Lord's service; and to you who will be so associated here. My text is to be used TO DIRECT YOUR EFFORTS. YOU need power; not the power of money, or mind, or influence, or numbers; but "power from on high." All other power may be desirable, but this power is indispensable. Spiritual work can only be done by spiritual power. I counsel you in order to get spiritual power in all that you do to keep the King's commandment, for "where the word of a king is, there is powers" Whatsoever you find in Scripture to be the command of the King, follow it, though it leads you into a course that is hard for the flesh to bear: I mean a path of singular spirituality and nonconformity to the world. Remember that, after all, the truth may be with the half-dozen, and not with the million. Christ's power may be with the handful as it was at Pentecost, when the power came down upon the despised disciples, and not upon the chief priests and scribes, though they had the sway in religious matters. If we want to win souls for Christ we must use the Word of God to do it. Other forms of good work languish unless the Gospel is joined with them. Set about reforming, civilizing, and elevating the people, and you will lose your time unless you evangelize them. Then again, if you want power, you must use this Word in pleading. If your work here is to be a success, there must be much praying; everything in God's house is to be done with prayer. Give me a praying people, and I shall have a powerful people. The Word of the King is that which gives power to our prayers. There is power in accepting that Word, in getting it into you, or receiving it. You never keep the truth till you have received this Word of a King into your spiritual being, and absorbed it into your spiritual nature. Oh, that you might every one of you eat the Word, live on it, and make it your daily food! And then, there is power in the practising of it. Where there is life through the King's Word, it will be a strong life. The sinner's life is a feeble life; but an obedient life, an earnest Christian life, is a life of strength. Even those who hate it and abhor it cannot help feeling that there is a strange influence about it which they cannot explain, and they must respect it.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Authoritative, Authority, Doest, Forasmuch, King's, Power, Supreme
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 8:2-5

     5257   civil authorities

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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