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Ecclesiastes 8 Lexham English Bible (LEB)

Wisdom is Valuable

Who is like the sage?
    Who knows the interpretation of a thing?
A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,
    and the hardness of his face is changed.
Keep the command of the king[a]
    because of your oath to God.[b]
Do not be terrified of his presence!
    Go at once and do not delay when a matter is unpleasant,
for he can do anything that he desires.
Since the word of the king is supreme,
    no one can say to him, “What are you doing?”
Whoever obeys his command will not suffer disaster.
    The wise mind knows the proper time and the right procedure.
For there is a proper time and right procedure for every matter,
    even though the trouble of man weighs heavy upon him.

No One Knows the Future

Surely no one knows what will be,
    so who can tell anyone what will happen?
Just as no one can control the wind to restrain the wind,
    so also no one can control the day of his death.
Just as no one is discharged in time of war,
    so wickedness will not deliver the wicked.

The World Marred by Oppression and Injustice

I saw all this as I applied my heart to all the deeds done under the sun: sometimes those in authority harm others.[c] 10 Meanwhile, I saw the wicked being honorably buried, but those who came and went from the holy place were forgotten in the city, even though they had done so. This also is vanity!

Although Evil is Not Punished Swiftly, God Does Eventually Punish Sinners

11 Because sentence against an evil deed is not carried out quickly, the heart of humans[d] fills up within them to do evil. 12 Although the sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I also know that it will be good for those who fear God—because they fear his presence.[e] 13 But it will not go well with the wicked, and they will not prolong their days, like the shadow; because there is no fearing God’s presence.[f] 14 There is a vanity that happens on earth: sometimes the righteous suffer what the wicked deserve, and sometimes the wicked receive what the righteous deserve. I said, “This also is vanity!”

Humans Should Enjoy the Life That God Gives to Them

15 So I recommend enjoyment. For there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat and to drink and to rejoice. This will accompany him in his toil the days of his life that God gives to him under the sun.

No One Can Discover the Rhyme and Reason for Things

16 I applied my mind to know wisdom and to understand the business that is done on earth—how neither day nor night one’s eyes see sleep. 17 Then I saw all the work of God—man is not able to discover the work that is done under the sun. Although man may toil in seeking, he cannot find it. Even if a wise man claims that he knows it, he cannot find it.


  1. Ecclesiastes 8:2 While MT reads “I said, ‘Keep the mouth of the king,’” the versions read “Keep the mouth of the king,” which is adopted in the translation
  2. Ecclesiastes 8:2 Literally “because of the oath of God”
  3. Ecclesiastes 8:9 Literally “sometimes one man domineers another man to his harm”
  4. Ecclesiastes 8:11 Literally “the sons of the man”
  5. Ecclesiastes 8:12 Literally “from before his face”
  6. Ecclesiastes 8:13 Literally “from before the face of God”
Lexham English Bible (LEB)

2012 by Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software

Ecclesiastes 8 New International Version (NIV)

Who is like the wise?
    Who knows the explanation of things?
A person’s wisdom brightens their face
    and changes its hard appearance.

Obey the King

Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?

Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm,
    and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.
For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,
    though a person may be weighed down by misery.

Since no one knows the future,
    who can tell someone else what is to come?
As no one has power over the wind to contain it,
    so[a] no one has power over the time of their death.
As no one is discharged in time of war,
    so wickedness will not release those who practice it.

All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own[b] hurt. 10 Then too, I saw the wicked buried—those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise[c] in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.

11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong. 12 Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. 13 Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.

14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. 15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth—people getting no sleep day or night— 17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.


  1. Ecclesiastes 8:8 Or over the human spirit to retain it, / and so
  2. Ecclesiastes 8:9 Or to their
  3. Ecclesiastes 8:10 Some Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint (Aquila); most Hebrew manuscripts and are forgotten
New International Version (NIV)

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