Ecclesiastes 8:6
For there is a right time and procedure to every purpose, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him.
The Doom of TyrantsJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 8:6-8

In words which are purposely dark the writer speaks of the fall of unrighteous tyrants. It is with bated breath that he whispers to those who are writhing helplessly under the oppressive rule of cruel despots, that the coil under which they suffer works its own cure in time, and that those who have their own way at present will sooner or later have to succumb to a power greater than their own. it is with considerable difficulty that the drift of the passage is to be made out, but with this clue in our hands it becomes intelligible. In the sixth and seventh verses there are four statements, each introduced by the same conjunction, כִּי, "for," or "because," and by retaining it in each case, instead of varying it as is done in our English versions, the sequence of thought becomes clearer. The sense of the verses is as follows: "The heart of the wise man will know the time and judgment, and will keep quiet; for

(1) there is a time and a judgment appointed by God in which the wicked ruler will be duly punished (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:17);

(2) the wickedness of man is heavy upon him, and will entail its own punishment, - the misery caused by a tyrant is a weight which will bring him down at last;

(3) no man knows the future, or that which will take place, and therefore no despot is able absolutely to guard himself against the stroke of vengeance; for

(4) who can tell him how the vengeance wilt be brought about? He may look in this direction and in that for the longed-for information, but in vain (cf. Isaiah 47:13, etc.). One thing, however, is certain, that whilst the wicked "are drowned in their carousing, they shall be consumed like stubble fully dry" (Nahum 1:10). The inexorable nature of the doom which will fall upon the cruel despot is described in highly vivid language. There are four things which are impossible for him to do.

1. "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit." Life can be shortened or cut off at any moment, but can by no art be prolonged beyond the fixed term. The despot cannot by his power escape the (loom of death, any more than can the meanest of his subjects. Or understanding by רוַּה not "the spirit of man," but "the wind," to which Divine judgments are often likened (Isaiah 41:16; Isaiah 57:13; Jeremiah 4:11-13; Jeremiah 22:22), it is as fruitless to try to keep back the Divine judgments as to prevent the wind from bursting forth.

2. There is no one who has power over the day of death, or is able to avert the arrival of that "king of terrors" (Job 18:14); the pestilence walketh forth in darkness, and the sickness wasteth at noonday (Psalm 91:6).

3. There was no discharge granted from the ranks in the time of war under the vigorous law of Persia, and the Divine law of requital cuts off with equal certainty all hope of escape from the guilty transgressor; and lastly:

4. Wickedness will not deliver its master. When the hour of Divine vengeance strikes, the sinner shall receive the meet reward of his actions. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23) (Wright). By no lavish bribes, by no use of power, by no arts or endeavors, can the evil-doer, however high his rank may be, avert the day of judgment, which may precede, but which, if it does not precede, will certainly coincide with the day of death. And in that time, when he will have to stand before the tribunal of the King of kings, none of his deeds of cruelty and oppression will be passed over. Such is the teaching half concealed beneath the words of the Preacher; but not so veiled as to be hidden from the discernment of a reader made sensitive by the righteous indignation which oppression excites in a healthy mind. His words pass from an apparent servility of tone into a generous anger, and there is a triumphant ring in his voice as he speaks of the immutability of the law or of the will, upon which the moral government of the world is based. But though horror of injustice and hardness of heart is manifest in his words, they are not instinct with any less worthy feeling. He does not justify revenge, or hint at the advisability of subjects taking the law into their own hands when their patience has been long tried. But he raises the matter to a higher level, and makes faith in God the source of consolation; and in his very words of counsel to subjects adduces considerations which are calculated to weigh with their rulers, and make those of them who are still amenable to reason, pause in a course of oppression and cruelty. - J.W.

A wise man's heart disoerneth both time and judgment.
Of all seasons of the year the present one inclines us most to thought. If, when the old year is dying, or when the new is being born, men will not think, it is very doubtful if they will ever think at all.

I. A MAN WHO IS NOT UTTERLY UNWISE WILL SEE THAT THIS IS A TIME FOR REVIEW. It is said of the Emperor Titus that he used to review each day as it drew to its close, and if he could not recall anything which he had done for the good of others he set it down in his note-book that he had lost a day. It was not a bad rule for a heathen king, but hardly good enough for a Christian man. And yet some of us who live in the mid-day of the Gospel do not aim so high, with the poor result that we hit something very much lower than the mark set before us. We come short of the glory of doing the Divine will. It is bad enough to lose one day, but how about losing three hundred and sixty-five? Yes, unless it has been lived in God, consciously in Him and for Him, we may set it down as lost. Let us all find opportunity for a quiet, earnest talk with the hours of the year that has gone. Look well at the old before you greet the new. It will make the new all the better, and when in its turn it becomes old the task of reviewing it will not be so unpleasant.

II. A MAN OF WISDOM WILL SEE THAT THIS IS AN APPROPRIATE TIME FOR RECONCILIATIONS. Has there been a little rift in friendship's lute? Now is a good time for mending the instrument and bringing back the harmony, music for the King of kings. Take the tide of good feeling at the flood, and be reconciled to those whom for a while thou mayest have been alienated. "When death, the great reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness we repent of, but our severity." Let us see to it that we enter the new year at peace with God. He is reconciled in Christ to us. Why should we stand out?

III. THE WISE MAN WHO OBSERVETH TIME AND JUDGMENT WILL HEAR A VOICE AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME APPEALING TO HIS GENEROSITY. Yea, there is more than one voice speaking to us on this behalf. There is the very voice of poverty itself speaking in plaintive tones to those who have the sympathetic ear. There is the voice of our own joys and comforts reminding us of the distress of those who are devoid of these things.

IV. THIS IS A TIME FOR CONSECRATION. To consecrate ourselves to God is to recognize the supreme fact of our existence and to act upon it. This is the time of all times for consecration, while the goodness of God is passing before us. As the mercies of the year marshal past us in grand and swift review let us listen to their pleading and present ourselves to God.

(T. Jackson.)


1. The wise man marks with a discerning eye the successive developments which time has made of God's gracious purposes towards our guilty race.

2. The man who is spiritually "wise," and divinely taught, solemnly ponders the devastations of time. And how fearful have been his ravages! He has overturned the mightiest empires, sapped the loftiest towers, and laid low the proudest cities. But above all, time has with irresistible flood swept away in succession the countless millions of our race. Tamerlane the Tartar reared a vast pyramid, formed of the skulls of those victims whom he had slain in battle; but death wages a more fatal contest over a wider field; and for us "there is no discharge from that war." Diseases in all their sad variety are his ministers; and were a pyramid to be erected by him of human bones, it would pierce the clouds of heaven.

3. The Christian marks and ponders the shortness of time. What are six, or ten, or a hundred thousand years? They are but units in eternity's countless reckoning; they are but drops in eternity's unfathomable and shoreless ocean. But when we reckon time by the period of man's life, "the days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength" in some "they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for we are soon cut off, and we flee away." Life is truly like the bridge which the moralist describes; a mighty multitude presses to cross it, but it is filled with openings through which the passengers are continually dropping into a dark and rapid river beneath, and but a few are left; and as these approach the other side they, too, fall through and perish. The Christian, "knowing the time," learns to die daily; he cherishes more and more of the pilgrim spirit, and in all his plans and prospects he acts continually under the practical influence of the apostle's appeal (James 4:13-15). Ye merchants and busy tradesmen, I ask, is it thus in your case? Is such wise discernment of the shortness of time yours?

4. The wise man's heart also discerneth the swiftness of time. And thus it is that human life is compared to "a tale that is told," to "the weaver's shuttle" flying rapidly across the web.

5. Finally, the Christian discerns that time is a precious talent for which he must give an account.


1. In a public and national sense this has been a truly memorable year.

2. The past year is memorable in the review of it, in your history as families.

3. How solemn and affecting to you as a congregation is the review of the past year!


1. Let us never forget that as we live in a world of change, it becomes us to expect changes and trials, and to calculate upon the probability of being called away by death, ere the year has closed.

2. Let the disciples of the Lord Jesus remember their solemn responsibility to live for the glory of God.

3. Finally, let us unite our prayers with those of the people of God of every name who are met at this season to supplicate, with one accord, the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the Church and the world.

(John Weir.)

Although, Decision, Delight, Evil, Heavily, Heavy, Judgment, Lies, Manner, Man's, Matter, Misery, Misfortune, Procedure, Proper, Purpose, Sorrow, Though, Trouble, Weighs
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 8:6

     4903   time

Ecclesiastes 8:5-7

     8438   giving, of time

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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