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Background Considerations

Have you heard people when commenting about events around them say: “It’s all about power.” Jesus once said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them” (Matthew 20:25).

The abuse of power was a practice that was widespread in Bible times. The author of Ecclesiastes knew about this very well since he was a king and powerful monarchs of his time were his friends. He often wondered why God, who is the ultimate dispenser of power allows its abuse.

Today’s study offers some answers to this challenging question. The final answer, though, may be yet another mystery of life.

Relevant Biblical Passages

  1. Ecclesiastes 8:2-5. How does the author teach respect for authorities? How should we take the statement that says “a king’s word is supreme”, in a prescriptive or a descriptive way?
  2. Ecclesiastes 8:11-15. Why does God at times delay his punishment of the one who does wrong? How do people abuse God’s grace and patience? Why is verse 14 sometimes called an anti-proverb?
  3. Ecclesiastes 8:16-17. In what sense is human life a mystery? How do the terms “under the sun” and “under the heavens” relate to one’s faith in God who cannot be seen?

Lessons for Life

Through this passage, the author of Ecclesiastes teaches that we must learn to live with the inevitable abuse of power. God, at times, will let evil run its course so that evil’s true character can be revealed.

Elsewhere the Bible teaches that God is patient, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

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