Ecclesiastes 8:4
Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Power.—The word used here and Ecclesiastes 5:8, only occurs again in the Chaldee part of Daniel. In the latter part of the Hebrew verse is one of the many reminiscences of the work of Job (Job 9:12; see also Wisdom Of Solomon 12:12).

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!Stand not ... - i. e., "Do not persist in rebellion." 4. God's very "word" is "power." So the gospel word (Ro 1:16; Heb 4:12).

who may say, &c.—(Job 9:12; 33:13; Isa 45:9; Da 4:35). Scripture does not ascribe such arbitrary power to earthly kings.

There is power; whatsoever he commandeth he wants not power nor instruments to execute it, and therefore can easily punish thee as he pleaseth.

Who may say? Heb. who shall say? Who will presume or dare to say so? He doth not affirm that it is unlawful to say so, for Samuel said so to Saul, 1 Samuel 15, and Nathan to David, 2 Samuel 12, and several other prophets to the kings of Judah and Israel, but only that it is difficult and dangerous.

Where the word of a king is, there is power,.... Or "dominion" (z). Authority goes along with his word of command; and there is an inferior magistracy, a subordinate power under him, ready to execute his will upon the rebellious and disobedient. Jarchi interprets it, the word of the holy blessed God; and the Targum, the word of that King who rules over all the world; where his word of doctrine comes, not in word only, it is with power: his written word is quick and powerful; the word of his Gospel preached is the power of God to salvation; or is accompanied with power to enlighten dark minds, quicken dead sinners, unstop deaf ears, soften hard hearts, and deliver men from the slavery of sin and Satan; it makes men, of enemies, friends to God, Christ, and good men; transforms them by the renewing of their minds, and comforts and establishes saints; all which is attributed to the word; and are the effects of almighty power, Hebrews 4:12; his word of command also comes with power, being clothed with his authority; and is submitted to by his people in the day of his power upon them, who readily and cheerfully obey it;

and who may say unto him, what dost thou? call him to an account for, or complain of any of his works of creation, providence, or grace? This best agrees with God than with an earthly king; and is said of him elsewhere, Job 9:12.

(z) "imperium", Montanus, Rambachius; "dominatio", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius.

Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Where the word of a king is, there is power] Better, Forasmuch as the word of a king is power, or rather authority. The latter word in the Hebrew text is used in Chaldee as meaning a ruler, or potentate. In the last clause, “Who may say unto him, What doest thou?” we have an echo of Job 34:13, where the question is asked in reference to the sovereignty of God. The covert protest of the writer shews itself in thus transferring, as with a grave irony, what belonged to the Divine King to the earthly ruler who claimed a like authority. The despot stands, or thinks he stands, as much above the questionings and complaints of his subjects, as the Supreme Ruler of the Universe does above those of men in general.

Verse 4. - Where the word of a king is, there is power. A further confirmation of the last thought. More accurately, "Inasmuch as the word of a king is powerful" (shilton, ver. 8). This last word is used in Daniel (Daniel 3:2) for "a lord," or "ruler." The king does as he thinks fit because his mandate is all-powerful, and must be obeyed, And who may say unto him, What doest thou? The same expression is found applied to God (Job 9:12; Isaiah 45:9; Wisd. 12:12). The absolute authority of a despot is spoken of in the same terms as the irresistible power of Almighty God. Αἰκὼν δὲ βασιλεύς ἐστιν ἔμψυχος Θεοῦ. "God's living image is an earthly king." Ecclesiastes 8:4"Inasmuch as the word of a king is powerful; and who can say to him: What doest thou?" The same thing is said of God, Job 9:12; Isaiah 45:9; Daniel 4:32, Wisd. 12:12, but also of the king, especially of the unlimited monarch of a despotic state. Baasher verifies as בּשׁ at Ecclesiastes 2:16; cf. Genesis 39:9, Genesis 39:23; Greek, ἐν ᾧ and ἐφ ̓ ᾧ. Burger arbitrarily: quae dixit (דּבּר for דּבר), rex, in ea potestatem habet. The adjectival impers. use of the noun shilton equals potestatem habens, is peculiar; in the Talm. and Midrash, shilton, like the Assyr. siltannu,

(Note: Vid., Fried. Delitzsch's Assyr. Stud. p. 129f.)

means the ruler (vid., under Ecclesiastes 5:8). That which now follows is not, as Hitzig supposes, an opposing voice which makes itself heard, but as Ecclesiastes 8:2 is compared with Romans 13:5, so is Ecclesiastes 8:5 with Romans 13:3.

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