This is Ecclesiastes 8
1Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
This verse praises the wise man. Or perhaps it would be better to say that it praises his wisdom. The wise man himself may not be attractive, but his wisdom makes him attractive. Wisdom changes a man in a wonderful manner.
In the Bible, these words appear at the start of Chapter Eight. But perhaps they actually belong at the end of Chapter Seven. They seem to fit better as part of that passage. Chapter 7 astonishes us with its many wise thoughts and ideas. It seems right, now, to declare how wonderful that wisdom is.
There is another reason why this verse matches Chapter Seven so well. The author has just written about the idea that there could be a perfect man (Ecclesiastes 7:28). “28 Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.”
The only man whom the Bible considers completely good is Christ (Hebrews 7:24-26). “24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;”
In the Bible, the ideas of perfect wisdom and complete goodness are often the same thing. So it seems right to praise Christ and his wisdom here.
Even as a child, Christ’s wisdom astonished the men who taught God’s law (Luke 2:46-47). “46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.”
When Christ began to teach, his wisdom astonished all who heard him (Mark 1:21-22). “21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.”
Nobody taught Christ to be wise, but his wisdom impressed everyone (John 7:15). “15 And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”
Christ’s wisdom is for all God’s people. The Bible sometimes describes a face that shines. Moses’ face shone after he was in the presence of God (Exodus 34:30). “30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.”
Christ’s face shone on one special occasion (Matthew 17:1-2). 1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.”
And when God’s people see God in Heaven, their faces will shine too with the glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:18). “18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The meaning of that light includes the greatness of God’s perfect wisdom.
2 I counsel thee to keep the king’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.
3 Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.
4 Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
King Solomon has already advised how a person may appeal to God for help (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). Now Solomon explains how a person should appeal for the king’s help.
In ancient Israel, the kings had complete authority. The king was not just the ruler, but also the judge. His word was the law, and everyone had to obey it. Nobody would speak against the king’s word unless that person wanted to fight against the king. And Israel’s people had promised in front of God to be loyal to their king.
So of course a person would be very afraid to appeal to the king. Many Bible translations have the words ‘do not hurry’ in Ecclesiastes 8:3. But in the King James Version Bible, we find the only true word from God. Ecclesiastes 8:3 reads “Be not hasty”. The king in those times would allow you to appeal to him. So Solomon tells us, do not be afraid to stand in front of him. When he permits you, tell him about your troubles. He will do whatever he considers right.
But evil people should be afraid of the king. They should not imagine that they can persuade him to support their wicked schemes. The king has complete authority, and he will use that authority to punish them.
The work of those kings teaches us something about God’s work as judge (Ecclesiastes 3:17). “17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”
Even evil rulers and judges are serving God when they use their power properly (Romans 13:1-7). “1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”
But even the best rulers and judges make some wrong decisions. And in this world, judgements and laws are often wicked (Ecclesiastes 3:16). “16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.”
God has authority over all, including kings, rulers and judges (Revelation 20:11-12). “11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
He alone is perfect, and all his judgements are righteous (Deuteronomy 32:4). “4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”
5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.
6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.
In ancient Israel, the king was also the most important judge. He would use his great power to support anyone who obeyed the law. Even the poorest people could request his help.
That may seem a good arrangement, but there was a serious problem. The king was much too busy to speak to everyone who needed his help (2 Samuel 15:1-4). People had to wait for the opportunity to speak to him. Sometimes, they might have to wait for several years. They believed that the king desired to help them. But they could not be sure that they would ever have an opportunity to request his help.
To obtain help, the person had to speak to the king at the right time (2 Kings 8:3-6). And the person had to request help in the right manner. The king desired to help anyone who obeyed his law. But if a person did not ask at the right time, or in the right manner, that person received no help.
Even modern systems of law have similar problems. A person’s troubles may be very great, and he may deserve the judge’s support. But that person cannot be sure that the judge will help him. And even if he does, there may be a long delay.
Usually, we do not see the results of God’s judgements immediately. He too has chosen a proper time when he will act as judge (Ecclesiastes 3:17). He has made a proper time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
God has done this for a reason. He is not like a human ruler or judge who may disappoint us. God has arranged that everything should be beautiful at the right time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). And that includes his judgements; they are perfect.
7 For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?
8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.
You can appeal to a judge or even to a king for help. But even if they support you, your troubles may not have ended. Nobody can be sure about the things that will happen to them in the future. Nobody even knows how soon they will die.
But everybody knows that they must die. Even the most powerful person can only live as long as he is able to breathe. A person’s breath seems very weak when we think about the strength of the wind during a storm. An important person may be able to control other people, but nobody can control a storm!
Often, a wicked person believes that he has the power to control everyone and everything else. If he is very important, that wicked person may even be able to control the judges and the king.
But in the end, that wicked person will receive what he deserves. Paul wrote that the wages for evil behavior is death (Romans 6:23). “23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
There is no escape from death for anyone. Nobody can prevent his death or the death of any one else.
After death, God is the judge. And nobody controls God. He will certainly punish wicked people (Ecclesiastes 3:17). “17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”
Evil people may avoid punishment for their whole lives in this world. But their punishment is certain.
In Ezekiel 18:21-23, God urges wicked people to change their behavior and their attitudes. They should become loyal to God, so that He can forgive them. God does not want anyone to suffer. He wants to forgive.
9 All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.
10 And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.
There are a few different ideas about the meaning of this passage. Clearly, however, it is about wicked people who are also very powerful. King Solomon has just written about wicked people in Ecclesiastes 8:8. They cannot avoid death, so they will not avoid the punishment for their sins.
During their lives, their wicked schemes caused much pain and trouble. It did not matter to them that other people suffered, or that they were blaspheming God. Those wicked people cared only about themselves: their wealth, success and happiness. But evil schemes do not always achieve the results that people expect. Sometimes criminals must go to prison. And sometimes wicked people suffer because of their own evil actions.
These wicked people went to and from the holy place. Perhaps that means God’s house, called the temple. They had some sort of religion worshiping some sort of god, but they were still wicked. Perhaps they thought that their religion, their god would protect them. It did not. They died and perhaps King Solomon saw their funerals.
At the funerals people praised those wicked people, but afterwards they forgot them. That is how many people behave. They praise someone when they hope to benefit from that person’s wealth, importance or power. But they forget that person soon afterwards.Of course, such people quickly forget a good person, too. Such behavior is evidence of people’s weakness. God does not behave like that. He remembers the people who are loyal to him (Hebrews 13:5). “5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”
God gives His people honor (Luke 19:12-19); “12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.”
(Revelation 22:3-5). “3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
King Solomon was very unhappy about the legal system in his country. Wicked people had become powerful, and they were behaving in a cruel manner (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3). “1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
2 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
3 Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.”
Poor people were suffering, but the judges were not helping them (Ecclesiastes 3:16). “16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.”
People could appeal to the king, but they had to appeal at the right time and in the right manner (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6). “5 Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.
6 Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.”
Otherwise, even the king would not help them.
The laws that God gave to Moses protect the rights of poor people (for example, see Deuteronomy chapter 24). It was the responsibility of the judges and the king to defend people’s rights (Deuteronomy 16:18-20); “18 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.
19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
20 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
(Deuteronomy 17:14-20). “14 When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;
15 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
16 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.
17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”
But people were not obeying God’s law. Instead, a rich person would pay the judges to make the decision that he wanted. Because a poor person could not pay, he had to wait or suffer. Usually the result was that the poor person never got any help. It was terrible that the judges were doing such wicked things. The delays were as bad as the wrong judgements. The judges were completely neglecting the rights of the poor people.But it was God who gave those rights to poor people. And it was the judges who took their rights away. Their behavior was ruining the whole country.
People saw that wicked behavior was an easy way to become rich. So everyone who wanted to become rich started to do wrong things. They were not afraid of punishment, because they too could pay the judges.But they were forgetting that, one day, God would be their judge. And nobody can ever pay for his kindness (Micah 6:6-8). “6 Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
12 Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:
13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.
As evening approaches, shadows become longer. And they continue to grow longer until, in the end, darkness covers the earth.
A shadow seems a good description of the effects of a wicked person’s life. Everywhere he goes those evil effects follow him like a shadow. As he grows older, his evil deeds continuously increase. If he lived long enough, he would control the whole earth by means of his wicked acts.
But that cannot happen, insists King Solomon. Although the wicked person may live for a long time, he will certainly die. And then, unlike a shadow, his power will suddenly disappear.
Solomon explains why wicked people are so evil. It is because they do not respect God. They do not care that He is their judge (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17). “16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.”
So they do not obey his laws.
It is interesting to contrast Proverbs 4:18 with Ecclesiastes 8:13.
Proverbs 4:18 describes the good person’s life as like the first light of dawn. That light increases until the full light of day. Light overcomes darkness (John 1:5) “5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”.(Thessalonians 5:4-5); “4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”
(Psalm 37:6). “6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.”
Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 tells us the good person respects God. And Solomon insists that it is ‘better’ to be a good person than a wicked person. He does not mean the person’s wealth or the length of his life or anything else in this world. The good person is ‘better’ because of something that God will do in the future. He will be the judge of all people. And he will reward the person who respects him (1 Samuel 2:30). “30 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”
14 There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.
Ecclesiastes is a book about extraordinary things that everybody knows to be true. That is why people consider it to be a difficult book to understand. We all have strong ideas about what ought to happen in this world. And those ideas are so strong in our minds that we constantly try to deny or change the facts.
But these things clearly are facts, although we do not like them. We think that good people deserve better lives. But that does not happen in this world. Here, there are clear benefits for people who choose to behave in a wicked manner. It is those wicked people who often seem to have better lives.
We need to understand what people mean by ‘a better life’. Most people use that phrase to mean health, wealth and happiness. People desire health and wealth so that they can be happy. But although many people are rich and healthy, they are still not happy. So clearly, happiness is what matters most in people’s opinions.
And people express their happiness most strongly when they are at parties. They eat the best food. They drink plenty of wine. They laugh and they sing. This is the kind of behavior that Solomon warned about in Ecclesiastes 7:1-6. There, he was warning people not to carry out such foolish behavior. They were neglecting the fact that they must die. They were not preparing for the day when God will be their judge.
But here in Ecclesiastes 8:17, Solomon is explaining what good people deserve. He realizes that nobody is completely good (Ecclesiastes 7:20). So, he means people who respect God (Ecclesiastes 8:12). Such people understand that God will be their judge. So they behave in a serious manner (Ecclesiastes 7:3).
Such good people may seem sad. But they have every reason to be very happy! They deserve to know constant joy! King Solomon describes this as a party, as Jesus did in (Luke 15:22-25). “22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.”
Sometimes people ask whether Solomon intended to give advice in Ecclesiastes 8:15. If so, we must ask for whom he intended that advice. Clearly, he was not telling wicked people to enjoy their lives. He did not believe that wicked people should enjoy any good thing.
We know that Ecclesiastes 8:15 does not contain Solomons advice to foolish people. In Ecclesiastes 7:1-6, he advised them to stop their parties. They should be serious. They should think about the fact that they must die.
But, of course, King Solomon is not advising good people to behave like fools! The person who behaves like a fool soon becomes a fool himself.
In this world, God’s people must be serious and sensible. That is necessary because there are so many wrong things here. Now their happiness is just for a few special occasions. And wicked people have parties while good people suffer (Mark 6:21-28). “21 And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;
22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.
23 And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom.
24 And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.
25 And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.
26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.
27 And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
28 And brought his head in a charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.”
In very many matters, this world is the opposite of what God desires.But it will be different in the future, where God rules. None of God’s people will be sad in heaven (Revelation 21:3-4). “3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Heaven is like a wonderful party where we praise God and give Him glory (Luke 14:15-24). “15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”
But wicked people cannot go there. On earth, God’s invitation is for all who believe in Him.
16 When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)
17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea farther; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
King Solomon had intended to study what people could achieve by their efforts. But, in fact, he discovered that people’s best efforts are very weak. Even if they work constantly for their whole lives, people still do not achieve much. And what they do achieve cannot last.
Such thoughts helped Solomon to understand better how great God is. Everything that God does, achieves its proper purpose. He always acts at the proper time. And he does nothing that is in vain.
The greatness of God’s work astonishes us. We see the vast variety of plants and animals in this world. We see how perfect their form is. But they are only a tiny part of the things that God created upon earth. And the earth is only a tiny part of all that God has made.Scientists study these things for their whole lives. But they hardly begin to understand anything that God has done.Only fools imagine that they know everything, or more then God does. The Bible says that true wisdom comes from God. People start to be wise when they respect God (Job 28:27-28); “27 Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.
28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
(Proverbs 2:5-6). “5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”
It might seem unpleasant to know that human knowledge and human effort are so weak. But the truth can make us free. When we realize our weakness, we will not depend on our own intelligence or our own work. And then we are ready to trust God. If we trust God, he will teach us.
I will be posting the 12 chapters of the Book of Ecclesiastes one chapter at a time on my blog. Look on the blog for new postings of new chapters as I post them. I am using bold text for the Word of God from the King James Version Bible as it is written. I will use italic for my commentary below the chapters and verses from the book of Ecclesiastes, This commentary is how I help people understand what is written in the Bible.
All glory to God
His humble servant Lee M Buchanan