Wisdom Addressing Bureaucracy and Wealth.

Ecclesiastes 5:8-17 show that God is comfortable talking about politics and finance. These topics often cause tension, but we can converse confidently about what God says about each of these areas of human life.


In this passage, Solomon is not saying that any specific government is as corrupt as another. He does not say that Christians should be activists against a government's vices. To do so would advocate that God's people be distracted from their main mission.

This passage discusses the reality of human government, which God is sovereign over (Daniel 4:34). No government will be devoid of corruption. This is something we cannot change. Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 and 3:16-17 have already discussed the reality of oppression. God established government (Genesis 9:5-6) and intended there to be no injustice (Leviticus 19:15, Deuteronomy 24:17), but we are fallen people. Sin affects everything that God originally created as good. Solomon notes that the more layers in government, the more people there are seeking dominance over each other.

One author said, "Having corruption in government, as dark as those days can be, is still better than anarchy. A few dishonest people may benefit from corrupt practices, but everyone benefits from any kind of organized authority."

Ecclesiastes 5:8 tells us not to be shocked or marvel when we see corruption in government. The literal meaning of this phrase means don't be overcome by fear, be anxious, or run away. Many New Testament verses remind us there is no need for anxiety when we have an eternal perspective. (See Philippians 4:6-8, Matthew 6:25-34, 1 Peter 5:5-7, Acts 1:7, and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3).

Christians don't need to be anxious to clean up their government's corruption. Instead, they should live focused on God's purpose. As we grow, we help each other be better citizens of Light in our communities.

Ecclesiastes 5:9 says that industrious leaders work for the good of the people they rule and encourage them to work for the good of all. The more people who are working, the less opportunity there is for oppression.

God's people must live His wisdom in both areas equally. Christians are commanded to pray for our leaders and submit to the government God has put in place (Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1-3). Meanwhile, we remember that we are citizens of a heavenly country (Philippians 3:23, Hebrews 11:9-10, 11:13-16).


Ecclesiastes 5:10 describes the reality that human desire always outruns material acquisition. We must not over-value treasures, because wealth does not give ultimate satisfaction.

Ecclesiastes 5:11 reminds us that having more stuff takes more of our time and energy. "An increase in wealth demands an increase in staff to manage it." More people also appear wanting to share your wealth. If you are living for wealth, this will create instability in your life. The fear of losing wealth will even bring sleeplessness if that is what you are living for (Ecclesiastes 5:12).

It is good to follow biblical principles to eliminate debt, save, and invest. But why are you doing these things? Money is a gift to be enjoyed if understood from God's perspective. Yet this should never be done at the expense of your eternal purpose. Enjoy your wealth in Christ by using it according to God's mission.

For example, the Bible does not provide for any extended amount of time that a believer should be detached from the purpose of their local church. Wintering somewhere warm for health reasons is valid; but taking an extended vacation from the Great Commission is not.

Everything that is yours is God's. Use it for His purposes to invest in what will last (Ecclesiastes 5:15-16).

Ecclesiastes 5:17 wraps up the section by displaying the empty goal of those who stress over labor and wealth.

Application Points

  • Are you too focused on cleaning up your government's corruption? Instead, focus your life on God's purpose for you as a believer. Who are you helping to grow? As we learn and live the Bible, we help each other be better citizens of Light in our communities.

  • Every person with wealth has been given it by God. You cannot even take credit for your own wisdom in obeying biblical principles.

  • Whatever you have been given, rejoice in God's purpose in your labor. Know the source of your possessions and use them for Great Commission purposes. Eternity is worth investing in!

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Colossians 3:22-26 – Working for the Lord.
  • Luke 16:1-15 – Investing earthly wealth for eternal purposes.
A Hymn to Encourage: "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need"

My Shepherd will supply my need
Jehovah is His Name
In pastures fresh He makes me feed
Beside the living stream
He brings my wand'ring spirit back
When I forsake His ways
And leads me, for His mercy's sake
In paths of truth and grace

When I walk thru the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away
Thy hand, in sight of all my foe
Doth still my table spread
My cup with blessings overflows
Thine oil anoints my head

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days
O may Thy house be my abode
And all my work be praise
There I would find a settled rest
While others go and come
No more a stranger nor a guest
But like a child at home