"Who is like a wise man?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
A man's wisdom makes his face shine,
and the sternness of his face is changed."
Morning Mediation: Read - Ecclesiastes 8:1-17
One of the key problems that Solomon was faced with in his in-depth study of the value of wisdom was the problem of evil in the world. Throwing out the meaningless methods of the world, Solomon confronted the issue head on - with wisdom. In this bright light he was able to see the dark problem of evil in its proper perspective.
"A man's wisdom makes his face shine..." (v. 1b). He evaluated the problem of evil in the place of worldly governments and considered the godly response to those in authority:
"I say, "Keep the king's commandment for the sake of your oath to God" (v. 2). Scripture tells us to:
"Let every soul be subject to the government authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Romans 13:1-3). We have a duty to be good citizens. Disobedience is the lifestyle of the world, but it must not be in the church. We are exhorted to "get along with civil authorities and live peacefully with our neighbors." For this lifestyle reflects positively on Christianity and glorifies God.
"Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men..." (1 Peter 2:13-15). And while we are obligated to obey those in authority, we are also called to obey our conscience and resist evil.
"We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). To know the difference requires wisdom, "because for every matter there is a time and judgment" (v. 6a).
"All this I have seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun: There is a time in which one man rules over another to his own hurt" (v. 9). We are not to be discouraged at the abuse of power and hurt that those in authority exercise over those they have been appointed to protect, but rather trust in God who will return the hurt they have done to others onto their own heads. There is a day coming when the wicked will be judged.
"...and no one has power in the day of death" (v. 8b). For,
"Do not be deceived. God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of his flesh reap corruption..." (Galatians 6:7). Today, let us pray for those in authority, and take time to thank God for the godly men and women throughout history who exercised spiritual wisdom and discernment as they challenged authority in times of persecution and prejudice, and who were willing to suffer, and even die, for their faith that the Lord might be glorified.
"For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20-21).
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications,
prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks
be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness
and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight
of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved
and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
(1 Timothy 2:1-4)
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