Ecclesiastes 8:10-15 – Bad Things Happen to Good People


Ecclesiastes 8:10-15


The teacher laments the injustice of the prosperity of the wicked, but clings to the idea that those who fear God will be well, even if it seems the wicked are living full and long lives. 


The Hebrew Wisdom tradition as exemplified in the book of Proverbs maintains that right conduct—pursuit of wisdom, study of Torah, hard work, and fair treatment of others—pleases God and leads to the reward of a long and prosperous life. They are the kinds of teachings that moral authorities such as parents try to inculcate in their children, and their truth is borne out in everyday life—until it is not. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. As part of the “dissent tradition” within Wisdom circles, Ecclesiastes, like the Book of Job, names these dissonances and wrestles with them. Even as it questions the fairness of the world and the justice of God, Ecclesiastes never lets go of an overall Wisdom framework that affirms God’s favor toward those who act in righteousness.