As Solomon studies the affairs of life under the sun, he makes some rather astute observations. One of those observations deals with why evil is so prevalent in the world. Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, “Because the sentence against an 07 ojevil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.” When we were in our child raising years we read a book on child discipline that focused a lot of attention on how to “correct” bad behavior in children. According to the author, whatever punishment you might choose you must first be certain that it is connected to the transgression. If there is no connection, there is no training taking place. The best way to assure that the lesson is learned by the child is to endeavor to apply the correction as swiftly as possible after the infraction. The more time that elapses after the bad behavior the less likely the lesson will be learned. This is true because of the depravity of man.

The failure of quick justice on evil serves to promote evil. It not only promotes it in the people who get away with it, but also with others who watch it happen. The situation that Solomon is addressing, unfortunately, suggests that (as the Handbook for Ecclesiastes puts it), “the evil person was not only unpunished, he was actually honored by the community.” You might have read the story last year of Nineteen-year-old Colton Harris-Moore. The on line story says, “He was arrested in the Bahamas after a two-year run from the police. The ‘Barefoot Bandit’ is accused of a string of robberies, including the theft of up to five airplanes. Along the way, he picked up 83,000 fans on his Facebook fan page and spawned a fan club. Harris-Moore’s mother defends his actions, and has reportedly sold the rights to his story to 20th Century Fox.”

God has entrusted the enforcement of law into the hands of human government. According to both the Old Testament and the New Testament this included penalties up to and including capital punishment. According to the Bible (and Chuck Colson) swift justice “…is important not only because the authority of the Law is at stake, but also to discourage others from following the evil person’s example in the belief that they will escape punishment also.” Phil Ryken gives an example from the world of sports. He writes, “…one of the reasons why famous athletes like Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez kept using steroids, even though such drugs had been banned from professional baseball, is because steroid users were not being punished. If there are never any consequences, then why not go ahead and sin?” According to Solomon this is another vanity of vanities! Lack of respect for the law is lack of respect for God. Those who respect God and human law can live life with a clear conscience. Surely applauded criminals cannot sing with the righteous, “it is well with my soul.”