|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:1-5 None of the rich, the powerful, the honourable, or the accomplished of the sons of men, are so excellent, useful, or happy, as the wise man. Who else can interpret the words of God, or teach aright from his truths and dispensations? What madness must it be for weak and dependent creatures to rebel against the Almighty! What numbers form wrong judgments, and bring misery on themselves, in this life and that to come!
Verse 5. - Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing. This is an encouragement to obedience to royal authority (comp. Proverbs 24:21, 22; Romans 13:3). The context plainly shows that it is not God's commandment that is spoken of (though, of course, the maxim would be very true in this case), but the king's. Nor is it necessarily a servile and unreasoning obedience that is enjoined. Koheleth is dealing with generals. Such cases as that of Daniel and the three children, where obedience would have been sinful, are not here taken into consideration. "Shall feel," literally, "shall know," i.e. experience no physical evil. Quiet submission to the powers that be guarantees a peaceful and happy life. Ginsburg and others translate, "knoweth not an evil word," i.e. is saved from abuse and reproach, which seems somewhat meager, though the Septuagint gives, Οὐ γνώσεται ῤῆμα πονηρόν. The Vulgate is better, Non experietur quidquam malt. And a wise man's heart discerneth (knoweth) both time and judgment. The verb is the same in both clauses, and ought to have been so translated. The "heart" includes the moral as well as the intellectual faculties; and the maxim says that the wise man bears oppression and remains unexcited even in evil days, because he is convinced that there is a time of judgment coming when all will be righted (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The certainty of retributive justice is so strong in his mind that he does not resort to rebellion in order to rectify matters, but possesses his soul in patience, leaving the correction of abuses in God's hands. Septuagint, "The wise man's heart knoweth the time of judgment," making a hendiadys of the two terms. The Vulgate has tempus et responsionem, "time and answer."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing,.... Either the commandment of an earthly king, which should be kept, when agreeably to the laws of the nation, and not inconsistent with the commands of God; and such as do observe it "know no evil" (a), as it may be rendered, or no sorrow; they live peaceably and quietly, and enjoy the favour and protection of the government under which they are, and have praise of men; see Romans 13:3; or the commandments of the heavenly King, the singular being put for the plural; so the Targum,
"whoso keepeth the commandments of the Lord shall know no evil in the world to come.''
Nor in this world neither; no evil befalls them; what may be thought to be so is for their good; though they know and are conscious of the evil of sin, and commit it, yet not willingly, and with love to it, and so as to make it the work of their lives; but lament it, repent of it, and forsake it, and do not feel the evil of punishment for it; yea, such enjoy much good; have much communion with God; large discoveries of his love; dwell in him, and shall at last dwell with him in the heavenly city; see John 14:21;
and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment; he knows not only what is his duty to do, both with respect to God and men, to a temporal prince or the King eternal; but he knows also the most fit and convenient time of doing it; and lays hold on every opportunity that offers, and which may be called "redeeming time", Galatians 6:10; and he knows the right manner in which it should be performed, with all the agreeable circumstances of it, which he carefully observes; or he knows the judgment that will be passed, or the punishment that will be inflicted on delinquents, either by God or men; and therefore is careful to keep the commandment, and avoid it: and especially he remembers there is a judgment to come, when everything will be brought to an account; and, though he does not know the precise day and hour, yet he knows there will be such a time; so some render it, "the time of judgment" (b): the Targum is,
"and the time of prayer, and of judgment, and of truth, is known by the heart of the wise.''
(a) "non cognoscet", Vatablus, Mercerus, Gejerus, Rambachius, Cocceius. (b) , Sept. so some in Drusius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
time—the neglect of the right "times" causes much of the sinful folly of the spiritually unwise (Ec 3:1-11).
judgment—the right manner [Holden]. But as God's future "judgment" is connected with the "time for every purpose" in Ec 3:17, so it is here. The punishment of persisting sinners (Ec 8:3) suggests it. The wise man realizes the fact, that as there is a fit "time" for every purpose, so for the "judgment." This thought cheers him in adversity (Ec 7:14; 8:1).
Ecclesiastes 8:5 Parallel Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 8:5 NIV
Ecclesiastes 8:5 NLT
Ecclesiastes 8:5 ESV
Ecclesiastes 8:5 NASB
Ecclesiastes 8:5 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible