A Study of Ecclesiastes 8:2
The King’s Commandment (Ecclesiastes 8:2, John 13:34-35, John 15:12, John 14:23, John 16:24, Matthew 10:37, James 5:16)
In looking at Ecclesiastes 8:2 we need to understand how to interpret this complex structure that we have before us. We read in Ecclesiastes 8:2,
I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment (Lit: word), and that in regard of the oath of God.
The Preacher says to the wise man: “I counsel thee to keep the king’s Word.” We see that the Hebrew text actually does not speak of the king’s commandment but of “the king’s Word.”
Which king is God talking about?
Is this king Solomon or does it refer to another king?
If we hold on to the principle that God is speaking about the Gospel throughout most of the Old and New Testament, we are inclined to interpret this verse as “Christ is the King.” And thus this verse speaks about submitting to Christ as our King.
Then what is the difference between Keeping Christ’s Commandment and Keeping Christ’s Word?
It is remarkable that the word commandment is singular. And so we have to ask:
What was the commandment that the Lord Jesus pressed on His disciples most of all?
It was the commandment that we love one another. We read in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Again in John 15:12 the Lord Jesus said, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
This is what it means to keep Christ’s commandment. It is one commandment that overshadows most of the other commandments. I said most, because there is one commandment that stands head and shoulders above this commandment that Jesus gave, and that is that we must love Him more than we love any other human being.
How do we know if we truly love Christ?
We will know if we remember that the Lord Jesus said that we must love Him more than our father or our mother, more than our son or daughter. And so, if we look at our actions we can readily see whom we love more. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 10:37 that if we do not love Him more than father or mother, or more than son or daughter, we are not worthy of Him. This does not mean that we can make ourselves worthy of Him, but when God makes us Born Again we will love Christ more than all the world
But the literal translation of Ecclesiastes 8:2 says that we must keep His Word.
What does it mean to keep His Word?
Does it not mean to keep the whole Bible?
Again we turn to John 14 where we read in verse 23,
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my Words: and my Father will love him, and WE will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Therefore, to keep His Word, or to keep His Words, contains a far greater task than to keep His commandment. To keep His Word means that we love to read and study the Bible because we have been Born From Above, and we take every opportunity to read and study the Bible, and we do our level best to follow what He has said, for we do it because we know that these are the things that are pleasing in His sight, and we want to please Him because we love Him, and we will be loved by the Father, and the triune God Himself shall make our soul His dwelling place. That is a fabulous promise. And it is not an empty promise. God is not a man that He should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent. This is one thing that God cannot do: He cannot lie. Think now of the consequences of this statement: God also said, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). That is a great promise. But please pray for the things that will give God the glory, and do not pray for the things that will give glory to man or that will give us some creature comforts. This is why the Lord Jesus said in John 16:24, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
The Oath of God (Ecclesiastes 8:2, Genesis 22:16-18, Galatians 3:16, Colossians 2:15, Psalm 25:14)
Let us now look again at Ecclesiastes 8:2. Literally we read there, “Keep the king’s word, especially on the matter of the oath of God.” It is not our oath, but it is the oath of God, and it is connected with our keeping of His Word.
What does that refer to?
God does not promise something as a reward for what we do, but we do something in response to God’s oath what He will do to us. Remember, our rules of interpretation must be so that God receives all the glory. We read in Genesis 22:16-18 God’s promises to Abraham after Abraham attempted to obey God and sacrifice his son Isaac.
And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy Seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
And in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Did God do this because Abraham obeyed God in sacrificing his son Isaac for a burnt offering?
Abraham obeyed God because God made him Born Again. Do not turn this around. Abraham was a worshipper of idols prior to being born again, for “There is NONE that seeketh after God.”
So God made Abraham Born Again, and He gave him the desire to obey Him, and God gave him the obedience to sacrifice Isaac, his only begotten son, as a picture of God the Father offering Christ for our sins, and then God gave Abraham the promise that was stated in Genesis 22:17-18.
What did God promise?
God said, “I will multiply thy Seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy Seed shall possess the gate of His enemies; And in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
I have capitalized the word Seed, because God said in Galatians 3:16, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ.” And thus in Genesis 22:17-18 God was referring to Christ and to all those who are in Christ. God promised Abraham that God would make him the father of many nations, not the father of many descendants, but the father of many believers, for Abraham is called the father of those who by grace believed, the father of all the saints.
And so, how does that relate to Ecclesiastes 8:2 where God says, “Keep the king’s word, especially on the matter (the cause) of the oath of God.”?
There are at least three action items involved for those who are in Christ, for God said, “Keep the King’s Word”, and God said in Genesis 22:17-18, “thy Seed shall possess the gate of His enemies; And in thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
First, how shall thy Seed possess the gate of his enemies?
Who controls the gate of the kingdom of Satan?
Who controls the people who may enter or leave that wicked kingdom?
And how does Christ do this?
He bound Satan and plundered his house when He hung on the cross. That is how He controlled who may go in and out of Satan’s compound. We read in Colossians 2:15, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
This He did when He paid for our sins on the cross. And thus in AD 33 Christ determined who may leave Satan’s compound. The Lord Jesus Christ fixed the number of people who would become saved until the end of time. He also, in AD 33 passed by those whom He did not intend to save. They would remain in their sins, and they would remain in unbelief, because the heart of the natural man is deceitful and desperately wicked, and is always inclined to believe the lie rather than the truth. If God the Holy Spirit would not do a miraculous work in the heart of a man, that man would remain in an unregenerate state, for each one who turns to the Lord Jesus does so because God has done a miracle of grace in that man’s soul. No one comes to Jesus of his own accord, for “there is NONE that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). And thus this first action item is entirely done by Christ. He is the Seed who shall possess the gate of his enemies.
Secondly, “In thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
How shall this come to pass?
Christ shall be proclaimed in all the nations of the world. God does not say that every individual in the entire world shall be blessed in Christ, for we can readily see that this is never going to take place. But God says, “All the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” It means that a remnant chosen by grace shall be present in each of the nations, and their presence will give God the reason for blessing that nation. This was the reason why God blessed our nation in the past, but now our nation has turned its back on God, and God’s blessings on it will diminish in the coming years.
But how shall all the nations of the earth get to know the Lord Jesus Christ?
It is through the process of evangelism. The church is busy evangelizing the nations of the world, but only a remnant chosen by grace shall truly hear and believe the true Gospel. This is how “In thy Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
Thirdly, “Keep the king’s Word, especially because of the oath of God.” To keep the King’s Word means to keep the words of Christ, which means to keep the whole Bible; keep it intact, and keep searching it for greater understanding, and for learning the love of God in giving us salvation through Christ crucified.
How then does this tie into the oath of God?
The tie in can be seen in the love of God by including us in His covenant. This is the oath of God. Remember that God says in Psalm 25:14, “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and He will shew them His covenant.” This should be our memory verse for today, for this is a very important verse. The secret of the Lord is the secret unto salvation that He will reveal only to His elect.
In Summary we saw two main items in Ecclesiastes 8:2.
1. The King’s commandment, and 2. The oath of God.
First, the King is the Lord Jesus Christ for He is called King of kings and Lord of lords. Christ’s commandment is that we love one another. But literally it speaks of the Word of the King, which is a reference to the whole Bible. God hears us when we pray; the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Secondly, the oath of God promises that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in Christ. This occurs:
1. Through the cross of Christ.
2. Through evangelism by the faithful saints.
3. Through studying the Bible about the oath of God.
By Alfred J. Chompff