Ecclesiastes -The Royal Preacher

  • This book centers on the philosophy of life: What is life? Why is life? Where is it going? and What am I supposed to do about it?
  • The author of this book identifies himself as “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1, 12), although his name never appears in the book. All evidence seems to identify wisdom (1:16), unequaled wealth (2:7), and extensive building activities (2:4-6) that all point to Solomon.
  • Although the tone of Ecclesiastes is generally negative and pessimistic, the entire book is filled with practical wisdom about how to accomplish great things in this world and stay out of trouble. It is also filled with spiritual wisdom concerning how to find and know eternal values. The writer affirms that righteousness is rewarded and wickedness is punished (8:12-13). However, the righteous are subject to the same unpredictable misfortunes as the wicked (9:1-2) and ultimately die just as the wicked do (9:3).
  • At both the beginning (1:2) and the ending (12:8) of the book, the author declares that everything is “meaningless” or “vanity.” This includes work (1:14), wisdom (2:15), righteousness (8:14), wealth (2:26), prestige (4:16), or pleasure (2:1-2). At the same time, life should not be filled with despair. True satisfaction comes from knowing that what we are doing is a part of God’s purpose for our lives. This book helps us see that our scramble for power, approval, and money is useless, but our life should be lived in complete trust in God.
  • Solomon’s reign began under most promising conditions: “He loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father.... They feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment” (I Kings 3:3, 28). However, soon his own “wisdom” alone was guiding him. He openly ignored God by taking many wives, which consisted of heathen women. They seduced him into practicing idolatry (I Kings 11:1).
  • Ecclesiastes makes it plan that human wisdom doesn’t contain all the answers in life and that knowledge and education have their limits. To understand life, we need the wisdom that can be found only in God’s Word (the Bible). To have God’s wisdom, we must first get to know the Lord and honor Him. Solomon shows how empty it is to pursue the pleasures that this life has to offer rather than a relationship with the living Christ. The sure cure for emptiness is to center our thoughts on Christ and fill our lives with serving Him.

A suggested outline for the book is:

  1. The preacher’s subject (1:1-11).
  2. The preacher’s sermon (1:12-10:20).
  3. The preacher’s summary (chapters 11-12).