Introduction

Solomon is the writer. This fact is very well established among conservative expositors, and there is no other reasonable explanation for the book.

Solomon also wrote the Books of Proverbs and the Song of Solomon. We will find Ecclesiastes to be quite different from the Book of Proverbs. In Proverbs we saw the wisdom of Solomon; here we shall see the foolishness of Solomon. Ecclesiastes is the dramatic autobiography of his life when he was away from God.

Ecclesiastes indicates a preacher or a philosopher. I rather like the term philosopher because it is less likely to be misunderstood.

To correctly understand any book of the Bible, it is important to know the purpose for which it was written. We need to back off and get a perspective of the book. We need to put down the telescope on the Word of God before we pick up the microscope. The necessity for this is more evident here than in many of the other books of the Bible.

This is human philosophy apart from God, which must always reach the conclusions that this book reaches. We need to understand this about Ecclesiastes because there are many statements which contradict certain other statements of Scripture.

Actually, it almost frightens us to know that this book has been the favorite of atheists, and they have quoted from it profusely. Voltaire is an example. Today we find the cynic and the critic are apt to quote from this book. And it is quite interesting to note the number of cults that use passages from this book out of context and give them an entirely wrong meaning.

Man has tried to be happy without God; it is being tried every day by millions of people. This book shows the absurdity of the attempt. Solomon was the wisest of men, and he had a wisdom that was God–given. He tried every field of endeavor and pleasure that was known to man, and his conclusion was that all is vanity. The word vanity means “empty, purposeless.” Satisfaction in life can never be attained in this manner.

God showed Job, a righteous man, that he was a sinner in God’s sight. In Ecclesiastes God showed Solomon, the wisest man, that he was a fool in God’s sight. This is a book from which a great many professors, Ph.D.s and Th.D.s, and preachers could learn a great lesson. In spite of all their wisdom, in spite of all attempts at being intellectual, unregenerate men in the sight of God are fools. That, my friend, is something that is hard to swallow for those who put an emphasis upon their I.Q. and the amount of knowledge and information that they have accumulated.

In Ecclesiastes we learn that without Christ we cannot be satisfied—even if we possess the whole world and all the things that men consider necessary to make their hearts content. The world cannot satisfy the heart because the heart is too large for the object. In the Song of Solomon, we will learn that if we turn from the world and set our affections on Christ, we cannot fathom the infinite preciousness of His love; the Object is too large for the heart.

The key word is vanity, which occurs thirty–seven times. The key phrase is “under the sun,” which occurs twenty–nine times. Another phrase which recurs is “I said in mine heart.” In other words, this book contains the cogitations of man’s heart. These are conclusions which men have reached through their own intelligence, their own experiments. Although Solomon’s conclusions are not inspired, the Scripture that tells us about them is inspired. This is the reason for the explanatory: “I said in mine heart,” “under the sun,” and “vanity.”

(McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary, Vol. 21: Ecclesiastes & Song of Solomon. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.)

Poems & Quotes

Ecclesiastes 1:1-5

The Weaver

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.
Ofttimes He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.
Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
          –Author unknown

Ecclesiastes 1:5-14

“There is danger in pressing the words in the Bible into a positive announcement of scientific fact, so marvelous are some of these correspondencies. But it is certainly a curious fact that Solomon should use language entirely consistent with discoveries such as evaporation and storm currents (vv. 6, 7). Some have boldly said that Redfield’s theory of storms is here explicitly stated. Without taking such ground, we ask, who taught Solomon to use terms that readily accommodate facts that the movement of the winds which seem to be so lawless and uncertain, are ruled by laws as positive as those which rule the growth of the plant; and that by evaporation, the waters that fall on the earth are continually rising again, so that the sea never overflows? Ecclesiastes 12:6 is a poetic description of death. How the ‘silver cord’ describes the spinal marrow, the ‘golden bowl’ the basin which holds the brain, the ‘pitcher’ the lungs, and the ‘wheel’ the heart. Without claiming that Solomon was inspired to foretell the circulation of the blood, twenty-six centuries before Harvey announced it, is it not remarkable that the language he uses exactly suits the facts—a wheel pumping up through one pipe to discharge through another?”
          –Dr. Arthur T. Pierson

Ecclesiastes 9:1-14

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”
          –Confessions of St. Augustine, Book 1, Section 1

Ecclesiastes 12

Thou knowest, Lord, I’m growing older.
My fire of youth begins to smolder;
I somehow tend to reminisce
And speak of good old days I miss.
I am more moody, bossy, and
Think folk should jump at my command.
Help me, Lord, to conceal my aches
And realize my own mistakes.
Keep me sweet, silent, sane, serene,
Instead of crusty, sour, and mean.
          –Author unknown

When as a child, I laughed and wept,
Time crept;
When as a youth, I dreamed and talked,
Time walked;
When I became a full-grown man,
Time ran;
When older still I daily grew,
Time flew;
Soon I shall find in traveling on,
Time gone.
          –Author unknown