Ecclesiastes 8:12 picks up on the idea of the previous verse. Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.” It’s not only true that 08 guiltpeople get away with much sin and corruption in this world; some even appear to be applauded for it. Even the American legal system often fails its citizens. Wiersbe writes, “According to famous trial lawyer F. Lee Bailey, ‘In America, an acquittal doesn’t mean you’re innocent; it means you beat the rap.’ His definition is a bit cynical, but poet Robert Frost defined a jury as ‘twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.’” But you and I know that Solomon is right when he says in verse 12, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him.” The man who gets away with it lives his life under the cloud of their sin.

Solomon says that he knows it is well with those who fear God. This is another clear expression of Solomon’s faith in a just God. Most people read this verse as Solomon’s expression of confidence that God will ultimately punish the wicked and vindicate the righteous in the next life. Of course that’s true but don’t we also see a sense of punishment of the wicked and vindication of the righteous in the here and now. The wicked must live with a guilty conscience. I like the way max Lucado describes the person with a guilty conscience. He writes, the guilty are “Dashing down alleys of deceit. Hiding behind buildings of work to be done or deadlines to be met. Though we try to act normal, anyone who looks closely at us can see we are on the lam: Eyes darting and hands fidgeting, we chatter nervously committed to the cover-up, we scheme and squirm, changing the topic and changing direction. We don’t want anyone to know the truth, especially God.”

But God does know and we know too. Most of us are not hiding capital offences from God or the law. But if you are like me there are things that still haunt my sleep. I snapped at the nurse when she was late bringing my pain medication. I said some unkind things to my wife after a car accident. Surely you can think of something also. Even relatively little things are impossible to escape. John teaches us that God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” Isn’t it time we come clean with God? Isn’t it time to turn ourselves in? The author of Hebrews encourages us, “…let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean…” James tells us that when we turn ourselves in to others we find healing (James 5:16). I apologized to the nurse before leaving the hospital the next day. She forgave me with gracious words and an understanding smile. I came home with a painful arm but a clear conscience. It is well with my soul.