Ecclesiastes 8:8-9 – King Solomon’s Fifth Principle for Good Leaders

This will be my fifth, and final, post on King Solomon’s principles for good leaders. I have really enjoyed quoting from Pastor Robert McLaughlin’s commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes (order it for free here). Even though this is the last excerpt from Pastor McLaughlin’s discussion of leadership principles found in Ecclesiastes chapter 8, I will probably provide some more quotes from his work going forward. I have really enjoyed this!

The fifth principle is that a good leader must have a humble spirit. I believe that to be true and I wish that more of our leaders would take it to heart. I have no way of knowing how many humble leaders there are in this day and age but my personal experience tells me that there are very few. I hope that I am wrong. None the less the principle stands and I hope I will keep it in mind whenever I exercise the limited authority I have.

Here is Pastor McLaughlin:

Therefore, we have five characteristics of a good leader:

1. A clear mind.
2. A cheerful disposition.
3. A discreet mouth.
4. A keen judgment.

And lastly we have:

5. A humble spirit.

Ecclesiastes 8:8a. “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind or authority over the day of death.” Regardless of how wide-ranging the authority, how great the king, or how important the position, no person has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, nor does any person have authority over the day of death. The implication is that those in authority can only do so much; they are finite.

Ecclesiastes 8:8. “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it.” This means that a leader must have a humble spirit. He must be aware of his own limitations. Some translators translate the word wind as spirit, but the principle remains the same because your spirit can’t change another person’s spirit. No one has that power. Therefore, verse 8 has to do with awareness of one’s finite limitation. No matter how powerful you are, you are finite. No matter what authority you have, even if it’s over millions of people, you cannot do all things. And you must never forget that a humble spirit is a teachable spirit. A wise superior or leader will allow the Lord to have control over the things that he cannot control.

The phrase “evil will not deliver those who practice it” is a reference to the fact that no one in a position of leadership will accomplish anything by manipulating others, or by being evil toward those under their authority. The practice of evil might gain a leader his objectives, but will always come back to haunt him.

Ecclesiastes 8:9. “All this I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his [own] hurt.” A leader who misuses and abuses his authority ends up hurting himself more than others. Solomon is saying, in these first nine verses, that one of the vital things that he learned in his experiments is the importance of respecting authority on each end of the spectrum. If you have authority, don’t abuse it, and if you’re under authority, submit to it. Authority is your friend. However, it is inevitable that arrogance will challenge any legitimate system of authority.

This is satanic in nature. For Satan, as ruler of this world, constantly seeks to do everything possible to overthrow the divinely delegated authority. Divinely delegated authority brings freedom and blessing to individuals and nations. Authority has been at issue since the beginning of the human race. The fall was caused by rejection of authority. The woman rejected the authority of God and Bible doctrine, and accepted the authority of Satan. She also rejected the authority of her right man, 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Unfortunately, Adam discarded the authority he had from God and took orders from the woman.

The Eight Experiments of Man: A Commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes
Robert R. McLaughlin
pp 259-260

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