It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Ecclesiastes (17) Obey your king

page: 1

log in


posted on Jan, 15 2021 @ 05:04 PM
The book of Ecclesiastes tends to be neglected.
I must admit that I’ve been neglecting it myself.
So I come to this book with no preconceptions, except that a book found in the Old Testament must be intended to have a spiritual meaning. The people who compiled the canon were not in the business of collecting an anthology of “Hebrew literature.

The main theme of the early chapters has been that natural life and human life in the natural world do not go beyond a series of cycles of alternating events. Any apparent changes are discovered to be stages within these cycles, while the overall system itself does not change.

It is “vanity” for humans to look for anything beyond these things in the natural world, trying to transcend the system on their own. It is better, and the gift of God, for them to find their enjoyment in the world as it is, maintaining themselves in the way which God has provided.

Nevertheless, God has “put eternity into man’s mind”, in such a way that eternity cannot be known completely. Thus man is made aware of something greater than himself. “God has made it so, in order that men should fear before him.”

It seems that this nearly completes the central message of the book. Much of what follows looks like an assortment of “footnotes” unde
r the general heading “other flaws noticeable in human life when God is disregarded”.

Ch8 vv1-9

V1 “A man’s wisdom makes his face shine and the hardness of his countenance is changed.”
In the previous chapter, I noticed that the writer seemed to be inserting “wisdom is a good thing” statements, effectively as “paragraph markers” helping to separate different themes. This verse looks like another one., following the “unrighteous man” theme at the end of ch7.

V2 “Keep the king’s command.”

Proverbs takes a pragmatic approach to kingship;
‘The power which belongs to the king is comparable with the power that belongs to God, so that it’s equally dangerous to displease them;
“My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not disobey either of them; for disaster from them will arise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both” (ch24 vv21-22)
It is also said that “A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it” (ch16 v14), and the wrath of a king is “like the growling of a lion; he who provokes him to anger forfeits his life” (ch20 v2).
But if the king is good; “In the light of the king’s face there is life, and his favour is like the clouds that bring the spring rain” (ch16 v15).’

(For convenience, the above is quoted from the relevant thread in my Proverbs series)

The remarks in Proverbs are addressing the ordinary subjects of the king. As is Paul, in Romans ch13, when he tells us to recognise the rulers as God’s agents in fighting crime, and obey them accordingly. But the comments in these verses, when examined closely, are clearly addressing the immediate servants of the king.. When he gives you a command, you must go from his presence, without delay, in order to carry it out. Even if you feel dismayed because the matter is unpleasant. Because you have given a sacred oath to obey him. In any case, you have no choice. “For he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him ‘What are you doing?”

Vv5-6 “He who obeys a command will meet no harm, and the mind of a wise man will know the time and way. For every matter has its time and way, although man’s trouble lies heavy upon him.”

Now this is interesting. These two verses are making an almost seamless transition from the issue of “obeying the king” to the issue of “man’s relationship with God”. Firstly, the man who obeys will “meet no harm” (there is no promise of reward here- just absence of punishment). Then this result is equated with the wise man knowing “the time and way”. That is, perhaps, knowing the right thing to do. The writer continues to identify the wise man, as in Proverbs, as the one who knows the righteousness of God. But “every matter has its time and way” is the same message as “for everything there is a season” (ch3 v1). So we are back in the argument of the early chapters, that man should accept the way God has arranged the world, with its mixture of “mourning and dancing”, even though “his trouble lies heavy upon him”.

V7 “For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be?”
Having no knowledge of the future is part of our total dependence upon God. This point has already been made several times, as in “Man may not find out anything that will be after him” (ch7 v14) and “Who can tell man what will be after him?” (ch6 v12),

V8 “No man has power to retain the spirit, or authority over the day of death.”
Another aspect of our total dependence upon God.

“There is no discharge from war.”
While we live, we are in perpetual struggle against the sin in our lives. That is why tradition distinguishes between “the church militant” (living on earth and fighting sin), and “the church triumphant” (resting in heaven).

The struggle against wickedness is necessary, because wickedness cannot “deliver those who are given to it”.

If we look over the opening verses again, we find that everything they say to the servants of the king is even more applicable to the servants of God. God may command them to undertake unpleasant tasks, and they may be dismayed. That certainly happened in the case of some of the prophets, like Ezekiel. Nevertheless, they must respond to his bidding without delay, because they have given their sacred oath of obedience. In any case, his word is supreme. Who can say to him “What are you doing?” That is why the wise man, who knows his will and obeys his will, will meet no harm. As I’ve already observed, there is no promise of direct reward for services rendered. “You are unprofitable servants; you have only done what was commanded.”

So the two sections linked by vv5-6 can be seen as a single theme- our submission to God, following on from our dependence upon God.

V9. The writer had been meditating on what happens under the sun, “while man lords it over man to his hurt” (RSV).
That translation is ambiguous, because It is not clear which man is hurt by the “lording”. Other translations that I’ve checked, including the online Biblehub interlinear text, prefer the option that the first man is acting to his own hurt (though the NIV offers “lords it over others to their hurt” in a footnote).

The point that dominating men hurt the people they dominate is almost too obvious to be worth saying. The point that they hurt themselves is more subtle and thought-provoking. The damage is frequently moral and psychological, as the man who mistreats others lives in fear. The chief “hurt” is to their own relationship with God. As Lord Acton observed; “All power tends to corrupt- Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the case of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel ch4), the belief that he had “built” the world around him for his own glory was the cause and symptom of a state of madness.

Yet this brief observation of the negative side of kingship had been the starting point, apparently, of the meditation recorded in the previous verses, showing that God must be obeyed as a king is obeyed.

posted on Jan, 15 2021 @ 05:20 PM
"absolute power corrupts absolutely" obviously doesn't apply to the most literal example of absolute power aka the All Father, which you ironically circle around to emphasize is an unquestionable and irresistible source of authority. Sending mixed messages here.

posted on Jan, 15 2021 @ 05:29 PM
a reply to: TzarChasm
The text is takling about the case of man lording it over man.
I'll go back and see if Lord Acton wants to comment on that point.

edit on 15-1-2021 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 15 2021 @ 05:31 PM

originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: TzarChasm
I'll go back and see if Lord Acton wants to comment on that point.

Lord Acton didn't write the thread, you did.

The quote doesn't mention power in the hands of any specific creature. Absolute power is by nature absolutely corruptive. And then you helpfully provide an example of absolute power, so thanks for that.
edit on 15-1-2021 by TzarChasm because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 15 2021 @ 07:33 PM
You cannot do things to change things to the better if you are dead or in prison. Peaceful protest is good, violence against the leaders is not. Just try to gain support to get rid of the leader using honesty as your weapon, lies should never be used or you are worse than whom you are trying to get replaced. I see way too many lies being told by those with TDS these days. We know that the far left and far right lie like fish, we should not be like them.

Actually that was a poor choice for an example, I never once heard a fish lie.

posted on Jan, 16 2021 @ 12:37 AM
a reply to: rickymouse
I don't know that expression, but I've seen fish lie- side by side in a fishmonger's shop.

posted on Jan, 16 2021 @ 08:12 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

It is impossible to enlighten anyone as to how to study the bible when they don't believe ALL the words in God's word are necessary when teaching it.

But let's look as just one small error in the RSV Translation you are using in vss5-6.

time and way
This word change is not reflective of the whole context of the Book of Eccl or the whole word of God. RSV only succeeds in confusing the words of God not making it clear.

The AV of the 1611 says it this way

time and judgement
the word "way" inserted for "judgment" is extremely disingenuous. In the context one ability to be wise is in his ability to judge between things and make judgements about those things at the correct time. God never tells us we are not to judge things, we are only told not to judge unjustly another for with what judgement we use towards them will also judge us, and that there is a time for judgement not mentioned or limited in Chapter 3.

In this case the judgement is about an "interpretation of a thing" which for some reason you left out of your comments. whole context is needed for proper insight and observation of the scriptures.

Eccl 8:1 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
This should have never been left out for it is the crux of the whole chapter. But the removal of God in the verse 2 where every document except for the 48 used to make RSV translation has the word for God in it, in doing so they shift the oath from God to an earthly king.

So getting back to my point.

time and way
"Way" was substituted for "Judgement". the Hebrew mishpat there is judgement and is translated way only in very rare exceptions and this is not one of them. Other translation use another English word Procedure. The word mishpat is literally used in legal contexts and sense, that is why "way" is a extremely rare translation.

Having the context back to the previous chapter, point to judgment made out of wisdom. Where the King, the preacher Solomon, could find one man out of 1,000 that were wise and he could find none among his women. With the removal of words like God and changing words like judgement actually create an entirely different bible and meaning that God did not inspire. so it in fact becomes the words of men rather than the word of God. It is no wonder that so many people think the word of God is just written by men.

But when we look at the context of ALL of God's words as found in the AV1611 we see a wonderful truth arise in Psalm 119. There are 9 words God uses to describe his words. They are Law, Testimonies, Ways (halak not mishpat), Judgments (shaphat not halak), Precepts, Statutes, Commandments, Word, Ordinances, and all bring forth wisdom unto the man who would know them. So ways are not judgements and judgements are not ways to interpose the two is grave error in the least out right lying in the extreme.

So why is this important. For without the whole counsel of God word a man falls short in his spiritual diet. When people teach without having the whole council of God's word he is feeding his flock insufficient spiritual nutrients and this leads to spiritual leaching of the Body of Christ.

Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

edit on 1/16/2021 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 16 2021 @ 08:28 AM
a reply to: DISRAELIUseless

edit on 1/16/2021 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 16 2021 @ 08:35 AM

originally posted by: ChesterJohn
a reply to: DISRAELI

No it is not.

Yes it is. That remark was made about v9. Even the AV translates that verse as "one man ruleth over another" ("another man" being understood).

edit on 16-1-2021 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 16 2021 @ 08:36 AM
a reply to: ChesterJohn
Thank you for the comments on the translation of MISHPAT, which is a very imoportant point.

posted on Jan, 16 2021 @ 08:43 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

A wise man who is doing an honest study would have already KNOWN about the error of using "way".

posted on Jan, 16 2021 @ 07:36 PM

My thoughts ... Leaders as agents of God or even Gods in their own right, was a common belief promoted by authorities in times when the Torah and New Testament were written. Clearly today, if one follows the orders of wrongful leader, then the weight falls on the hands of those that did the wrongful actions. (aka nuremberg trials etc). So in reading scripture I try not be dogmatic, thinking its Gods word. I only see scripture as a mans/womans expression of God through a mind that is influenced by cultural beliefs. God being unfathomable can be expressed differently though different eyes.

posted on Jan, 17 2021 @ 05:49 AM
a reply to: glend

Which Scriptures?

posted on Jan, 17 2021 @ 09:59 AM
a reply to: ChesterJohn

Ecclesiastes 17 and Romans 13,

posted on Jan, 17 2021 @ 12:11 PM
a reply to: glend

Not what I asked. If I had asked What Scriptures? You could give that answer. But I did not I asked you what scriptures, I asked you which. That implies which one out of the many versions of them are you speaking of. Which one that you find are seen differently through different eyes.

edit on 1/17/2021 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 17 2021 @ 07:42 PM
a reply to: ChesterJohn

I agree KJV is purer. But I don't believe scripture is written from words dictated from the spirit. Internally, our mind uses images, not words, to transfer thought. Which is how the spirit also communicates with us. So I see scripture as a persons intepretation of those images. Using minds tainted by personal and cultural beliefs.

Obviously, some minds are less encumbered with baggage than others. Jesus exceptionally so.
edit on 17-1-2021 by glend because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 18 2021 @ 06:05 AM
a reply to: glend

In other words you do not believe God is strong enough to preserve his words to every generation as he promises to do in Psalm 12:6-7.

When scriptures are mentioned in the Bible they are talking about written words that are held in someones hands.. They are never said to be ethereal thought that only a spirit could grasp.

edit on 1/18/2021 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 18 2021 @ 04:55 PM
a reply to: ChesterJohn

Psalm 12:6-7 also says "the lord will cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things"

Do you see a world full of toungeless people walking about?

Its important to maintain purity of scripture but its a mistake to see that purity as absolute. The only absolute truth is God. "For no man shall see my face" tells us that mans "mind" is incapable of comprehending the absolute. Our mind is restricted to relative truths. Even our label for "God" has a different meaning to each one of us, depending on personal knowledge and experiences.

Scriptures are not the be-all and end-all of spiritualism. Scriptures are a signpost to God, saying this is the way.... =>
edit on 18-1-2021 by glend because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 23 2021 @ 08:50 AM
a reply to: glend

How can one know if they have the absolute truth of God if you don't believe God has kept his word to preserve is words to every generation as promised in Psalm 12:6-7 in A BOOK you can hold in You hand.

Sorry to tell you but there is no way to hold 300 English translations and paraphrases in your hand
edit on 1/23/2021 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

top topics


log in