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Sabbath School Lessons on Ecclesiastes
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 38 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 9: Seeing Through a Glass Darkly *
Introduction: How smart are you? Smart enough, right? Are you smart
enough to want to be wise? Smart enough to consider whether there is
any benefit to wisdom? If so, what is the benefit of wisdom? Would you
agree that it helps us to live better lives: not only in keeping out
of trouble, but in helping us to get through trouble when it comes?
This week King Solomon gives us a peek into his view of the benefit of
wisdom. Let's wisely dive into our study!
- Looking and Living Smart
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:1. What does it mean to be wise? (For
one thing, it means that you can explain "things.")
- Can you spot a wise man or woman?
- If not, can you spot a foolish man or woman? (Solomon
suggests that being wise is reflected in your face.
He says it makes your face less hardened and more
"bright." The New Bible Commentary says a "bright
face" means a gracious demeanor.)
- Do you know what Solomon is saying? Have you
seen this "look" of wisdom? (I absolutely know
what Solomon is writing about.)
- Obedience to Earthly Masters
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:2. What oath did you give to the king?
(As a lawyer, I took an oath to uphold the constitution of
the United States. Office holders take oaths. Members of
the military take oaths. People who become citizens of the
United States(as opposed to being born citizens) take an
oath of allegiance.)
- How important are these oaths? (Solomon says if you
give your word, then for that reason alone obey the
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:3-4. Would this advice apply to
dealing with your boss? (It would apply to anyone who has
absolute control over some portion of your life.)
- What does it mean to "not stand up for a bad cause?"
(The context makes it appear that if you oppose the
king (or your boss) that by definition is a "bad
- What about the idea of standing up for what is
right? (Read Acts 5:29. We must obey God, rather
than humans. However, Acts refers to matters in
which obeying "the king" involves moral
questions. You can give "the king" your point of
view, but you should avoid being in rebellion
against the king unless it is a matter of sin.)
- What is the difference between being an
innovator and a rebel in your job? (Sometimes
this is a fine line. But, when you are directly
opposing the person with the final authority you
are being foolish.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:5-6. If we are told that obedience to
the "king" will cause us no harm, why does Solomon go on
to refer to a "proper time and procedure?" (There is a
proper time and procedure for suggesting that the king is
going in the wrong direction. Queen Esther (Esther 7) is
an example of this.)
- Why does Solomon, in this context, write about
"misery" weighing heavily on a person? (You may not
be enjoying yourself while you wait for the right
time and proper procedure to get things changed with
- Accepting What Cannot be Changed
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:7-8. In addition to the difficulty in
controlling "the king," what other aspects of our life are
out of our control? (We cannot really control future
events in our life or the date of our death.)
- When King Solomon refers to "wickedness" not
releasing us, what is he suggesting about our ability
to control the future? (Some aspects of our future
are just out of our hands. Other aspects of our
future we have the power to influence - at least at
some point in time. Avoiding wickedness keeps us out
of the grasp of Satan - who only wants to harm us.
Living intelligently (healthfully) gives us an
advantage. However, if we enter into wickedness we
unleash a series of events which we cannot control.
If you want a more pleasant future, avoid doing
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:9-10. Will wickedness catch up with a
person during this life? (Sometimes, sometimes not.
Solomon points out the wicked man who attended church
regularly and was praised at his funeral.)
- Incentives to Right Living
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:11-13. In the United States, criminal
sentences are rarely carried out quickly. Numerous appeals
are allowed. Individuals sentenced to death for terrible
murders sometime live for many years on "death row." How
does that affect our crime rate, according to Solomon?
- Even if the wicked are not caught, or are not
immediately punished, does crime pay? (Solomon
affirms that a God-fearing person generally has a
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:14. How can Solomon say that getting
the wrong reward in life is meaningless? If you are good,
and you suffer like the wicked, doesn't that say something
important about our God? ("Meaningless" is the Hebrew word
"hebel" which can mean, among other things, "transitory."
Thus, things may not turn out exactly right here on earth,
but God will make them right in heaven.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:15. "Eat, drink and be merry, for
tomorrow we die." Does that about sum up King Solomon's
philosophy? (Not exactly. He has already said that, in
general, we live better if we obey God. Within the context
of what Solomon is writing, I would paraphrase it, "Trust
God, do what is right, eat, drink and take joy in the life
and the opportunities God has given you, however long God
has given you.")
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:16-17. What should you say if life
does not make sense? What should you think about God if
your life does not make sense? (A theme of the Bible is
that God is God and we are mere humans - and don't forget
it. Solomon says, "Look, even the smartest, wisest guy
cannot explain all of life. Leave some things to God."
- Friend, God's wisdom makes your life better. Some of God's
wisdom He shares with us. Some, is beyond us. Will you
seek God's wisdom and be content to trust God even when
wisdom is not enough to understand and solve all problems
- Next week: "Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do."
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.