Francis Bacon warns us not to “draw down or submit the mysteries of God to our reason.” Ecclesiastes 8:10-17 is just one of those situations in which we might be tempted to try to figure God out.
The situation is the burial of the wicked. These wicked people used to go in and out of the holy place revered and admired, apparently, even though they were hypocrites. Now they were receiving proper burials, while the righteous were discarded and neglected, left to lie out in the open without being taken care of at their death.
This is one of the most appalling, disgraceful, and ignominious things that can happen to a person in the Old Testament culture. This is emphasized through the continual statements throughout the history of the kings concerning their burial at the end of their life. Those are contrasted with this statement in Jeremiah 22:18-19, Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “They shall not lament for him, saying, ‘Ah, my brother!’ or ‘Ah, sister!’ They shall not lament for him, saying, ‘Ah, lord!’ or ‘Ah, his majesty!’ With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried, dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” A disgraceful person was not to be lamented or mourned, but just the opposite is observed by the Preacher.
What is the Preacher’s response? Though evil seems to reign, we can know that it will be well with those who fear God. The Preacher states this with full confidence and assurance. There is no doubt in his mind that, even though the sinner seems to prosper, those who fear God (emphasized three times) will find that it will go well with them. God is the one who saves, God is the one who sustains. Trust him even when things seem unjust. Our end will always be better than their end.
Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. Eccl. 8:12
Part of an ongoing series on Ecclesiastes