Fearing God as a Path to Genuine Wisdom

Jeff Munroe

Read: Ecclesiastes 8:10-17

It will be well with those who fear God. (v. 12)

This is a complex passage—Qoheleth is arguing that eventually God’s justice will prevail, but it may seem erratic and awfully slow. Those aren’t very exciting or encouraging thoughts to sink our teeth into.

In the midst of this argument, though, Qoheleth drops in a few words that make all the difference. The words are in verse 12: “yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God.” The fear of God was a much more familiar concept to Qoheleth’s first readers than it is to us today. We hear the word “fear” and it doesn’t sound right. We experience God as loving, patient, kind, and generous—why should we fear? Perhaps the way to express this concept for modern ears is “live in right relationship with God.” If we are in right relationship with God, we have nothing to fear.

Qoheleth is saying that on the surface things often don’t make sense. Decent people suffer and nasty people prosper. According to Qoheleth, surface things don’t tell the whole story. There is mystery here: “Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out” (v. 17). When faced with the limits of human knowledge and comprehension, the best posture for us to take is obedience and submission to the God of the universe, because it will be well with those who fear God.  —Jeff Munroe

Prayer: Give us humility and patience, Lord, and teach us to live in right relationship with you.