Ecclesiastes 8:9
All this I have seen, applying my mind to every deed that is done under the sun; there is a time when one man lords it over another to his own detriment.
The Contemplation of Human LifeJ. Foster.Ecclesiastes 8:9
Sin in PowerW. Clarkson Ecclesiastes 8:9, 10
Unequal LotsJ. Willcock Ecclesiastes 8:9, 10

Amid the obscurities and uncertainties in which the precise meaning of this verse is lost, we may allow it to speak to us of the truth that when sin is in power it is in all respects an unsatisfactory thing. It is -

I. INJURIOUS TO THE PEOPLE. "A man ruleth over men to their hurt" (Cox). The evils of misrule are obvious, for they have been only too often illustrated; they are these: the infliction of grave injustice; the encouragement of iniquity and discouragement of righteousness; disturbance and unsettlement, and consequent reduction in various spheres of useful industry; decline of activity, morality, worship.

II. HURTFUL TO THE HOLDER HIMSELF. "One man hath power over another to his own hurt" (Revised Version marginal reading). It is certainly and most profoundly true, whether here stated or not, that the holding of power by a bad man is hurtful to himself. It elevates him in his own eyes when he needs to be humbled therein; it gives him the opportunity of indulgence, and indulgence is certain to feed an evil inclination, or to foster an unholy habit; it makes injurious flattery the probable, and a beneficial remonstrance the unlikely, thing in his experience.

III. OF BRIEF DURATION. If we only wait awhile we shall "see the wicked buried." It is probable enough that sin in power will be guilty of serious excesses, and will therefore bring down upon itself those human resentments or those Divine judgments which end in death. But, apart from this, an evil course must end at death. God has put a limit to our human lives which, though it sometimes takes from the field a brave and powerful champion, on the other hand relieves society of the impure and the unjust. Sin in power is bound fast by the tether which it is quite unable to snap (see Psalm 37:35, 36).

IV. CONTRACTING GUILT. They "had come and gone from the place of the holy." They had either

(1) been professing to administer justice, and had done injustice; or

(2) attended the place of privilege, and had despised their opportunity. Either way, they bad been "laying up for themselves wrath against the day of wrath."

V. GOING DOWN INTO OBLIVION. The sense may be that this happens too often to the righteous; but it is certainly appropriate to the wicked. And is it not more applicable to them? For no man tries to remember them. No one proposes to erect monuments or institute memorials of them. There is a tacit understanding, if nothing more, that their name shall be dropped, that their memory shall perish. The only kind thing that can be done concerning them is to leave their name unspoken.

1. Be content with the exercise of a holy and benignant influence. It is well to be powerful if God wills it. But most men have to live without it, and a human life may be destitute of it, and yet be truly happy, and be of real service to a great many souls.

2. Resolve to leave a holy influence and a fragrant memory behind. We may have to content ourselves with a very simple memorial stone, but if we leave kindly memories and good influences in many hearts, so that in our case" the memory of the just is blessed," we shall not have lived in vain. - C.

All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun.
The writer means, by "applying his heart," the exercise of his attention and his judgment. He observed, thought, and formed opinions on the works of men spread over the earth. We are placed in a very busy world, full of "works," transactions, events, varieties of human character and action. We witness them — hear of them — think of them — talk of them. .Now, it is a matter of great importance that we should do this wisely, so as be turn these things to a profitable account. In the first place, if this attention to the actions and events of the world be employed merely in the way of amusement, there will be little good. It is so with many. They have no fixed, serious interest and purpose to occupy their minds; no grand home-business within their own spirits. Yet they must have something to keep their faculties in a pleasant activity, or cull it play. The mind, therefore, flies out as naturally and eagerly as a bird would from an opened cage. The attention rambles hither and thither, with light momentary notices of things; great and small; — here, there or yonder; it is all one; "welcome!" and "begone!" to each in turn. Now, how useless is such a manner of "applying the heart"! But there may be another manner much worse than useless. For attention may be exercised on the actions, characters and events among mankind in the direct service of the evil passions; in the disposition of a savage beast, or an evil spirit; in a keen watchfulness to descry weakness, in order to make a prey of it: — in an attentive observation of mistake, ignorance, carelessness, or untoward accidents,-in order to seize, with remorseless selfishness, unjust advantages; — in a penetrating inquisition into men's conduct and character in order to blast them; or (in a lighter mood) to turn them indiscriminately to ridicule. Or there may be such an exercise in the temper of envy, jealousy or revenge; or (somewhat more excusably, but still mischievously) for the purpose of exalting the observer in his own estimation. But there would be no end of describing the useless and pernicious modes of doing that which our text expresses. Let us try to form some notion of what would be the right one. In doing so there is one most important consideration to be kept in mind; that is, the necessity of having just principles or rules to be applied in our observation of the world. With the aid of these we are to look on this busy mingled scene of all kinds of actions and events. And we might specify two or three chief points of view in which we should exercise this attention and judgment. And the grand primary reference with which we survey the world of human action should be to God; we should not be in this respect "without God in the world." We are exercising our little faculty on the scene; let us recollect One whose intelligence pervades it all, and is perfect in every point of it! Let us think, again, while we are judging He is judging! "There is at this instant a perfected estimate in an unseen mind of this that I am thinking how to estimate! — if that judgment could lighten on me, and on its subject!" Our minds, also, should be habituated, in looking at this world of actions, to recognize the Divine government over it all; to reflect that there is one sovereign, comprehensive scheme, proceeding on, to which they are all in subordination. Again, our exercise of observation and judgment on men's actions should have a reference to the object of forming a true estimate of human nature. How idle to be indulging in speculative and visionary theories about this in the midst of a world of facts! In connection with this, we may add that the observant judgment of the actions of mankind should have some reference to the illustration and confirmation of religious truths. These truths may thus be embodied, as it were, in a substantial form of evidence and importance. We may just name, for instance, the doctrine of the fall and the depravity of man. Look, and impartially judge, whether "the works done under the sun" afford any evidence on that subject! The necessity of the conversion of the soul. For whence does all the evil in action come from? Is the heart becoming drained into purity by so much evil having come from it? Alas! there is a perennial fountain, unless a Divine hand close it. We may name the doctrine of a great intermediate appointment for the pardon of sin — its pardon through a propitiation, an atonement. We look at the life of a sinner, a numerous train of sins. Think intently on the malignant nature of sin; and, if there be truth in God, it is inexpressibly odious to Him; then if, nevertheless, such sinners are to be pardoned, does it not eminently comport with the Divine holiness — is it not due to it — that in the very medium of their pardon, there should be some signal and awful fact of a judicial and penal kind to record and render memorable for ever a righteous God's judgment, estimate, of that which He pardons? The necessity of the operating influence of a Divine Spirit is also illustrated. A faithful corrective reference to ourselves in our observation of others is a point of duty almost too plain to need mentioning. The observation should constantly turn into reflection, which yet it is very unapt to do, except when self-complacency can be gratified. Might we suggest one other point of reference in our looking on the actions of men, namely the comparison and the difference between what men are doing "under the sun," and what they will all, ere long, be doing somewhere else? Think of all that have done all "the works under the sun," ever since that luminary began to shine on this world, — now in action in some other regions! Think of all those whose actions we have beheld and judged — those recently departed — our own personal friends! Have not they a scene of amazing novelty and change; while yet there is a relation, a connecting quality between their actions before and now. Lastly, our exercise of attention and judgment on "every work that is done under the sun" should be under the habitual recollection that soon we shall cease to look on them; and that, instead, we shall be witnessing their consequences; and in a mighty experience also, ourselves, of consequences. This thought will enforce upon us incessantly, that all our observation should be most diligently turned to the account of true wisdom and our own highest improvement.

(J. Foster.)

Applied, Applying, Authority, Deed, Destruction, Evil, Exercised, Heart, Hurt, Lords, Mind, Observed, Power, Ruled, Ruleth, Thereto, Whatever, Wherein
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 8:9

     5894   intelligence
     8674   study

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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