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

Song of Solomon 1:7-13

My soul’s a shepherd too, a flock it feeds
Of thoughts and words and deeds;
The pasture is thy word, the streams thy grace,
Enriching all the place.
          –George Herbert

See how from far upon the Eastern road,
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet;
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
Have thou the honor first they Lord to greet.
          –John Milton

A bundle of mellifluous myrrhe,
Is my Beloved best
To me, which I will bind between
My breasts, while I do rest
In silent slumbers.
          –Troth-plight Spouse

As myrrh new bleeding from the tree,
Such is a dying Christ to me;
And while He makes my soul his guest,
My bosom, Lord, shall be thy rest.
          –Isaac Watts

Song of Solomon 2:1-7

“Close by these lilies there grew several of the thorny shrubs of the desert; but above them rose the lily, spreading out its fresh green leaf as a contrast to the dingy verdure of these prickly shrubs—‘like the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.’”
          –Horatius Bonar

Song of Solomon 2:4-11

The love, the love that I bespeak,
Works wonders in the soul;
For when I’m whole it makes me sick,
When sick it makes me whole.
I’m overcome, I faint, I fail,
Till love shall love relieve;
More love divine the wound can heal,
Which love divine did give.
More of the joy that makes me faint,
Would give me present ease;
If more should kill me, I’m content
To die of that disease.
          –Ebenezer Erskine

When manifold obstructions met,
My willing Saviour made
A stepping-stone of every let,
That in his way was laid.
          –Ebenezer Erskine

The legal wintery state is gone,
The mists are fled, the spring comes on;
The sacred turtle dove we hear
Proclaim the new, the joyful year.
And when we hear Christ Jesus say,
Rise up my Love, and come away,
Our heats would fain outfly the wind,
And leave all earthly joys behind.
          –Isaac Watts

Song of Solomon 2:12-15

O sing unto this glittering glorious king,
O praise his name let every living thing;
Let heart and voice, like belles of silver, ring
The comfort that this day did bring.
          –Kingwellmersh

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
          –Augustus M. Toplady

Song of Solomon 5:6-16

"All other greatness has been marred by littleness, all other wisdom has been flawed by folly, all other goodness has been tainted by imperfection; Jesus Christ remains the only Being of whom, without gross flattery, it could be asserted, He is altogether lovely. My theme, then, is: The Loveliness of Christ. First of all, as it seems to me, this loveliness of Christ consists in His perfect humanity. Am I understood? I do not now mean that He was a perfect human, but that He was perfectly human. In everything but our sins, and our evil natures, He is one with us. He grew in stature and in grace. He labored, and wept, and prayed, and loved. He was tempted in all points as we are—sin apart. With Thomas, we confess Him Lord and God; we adore and revere Him, but beloved, there is no other who establishes with us such intimacy, who comes so close to these human hearts of ours; no one in the universe of whom we are so little afraid. He enters as simply and naturally into our twentieth century lives as if He had been reared in the same street. He is not one of the ancients. How wholesomely and genuinely human He is! Martha scolds Him; John, who has seen Him raise the dead, still the tempest and talk with Moses and Elijah on the mount, does not hesitate to make a pillow of His breast at supper. Peter will not let Him wash his feet, but afterwards wants his head and hands included in the ablution. They ask Him foolish questions, and rebuke Him, and venerate and adore Him all in a breath; and He calls them by their first names, and tells them to fear not, and assures them of His love. And in all this He seems to me altogether lovely.”
          –From The Loveliness of Jesus by Dr. C.I. Scofield

Song of Solomon 5:10—8:14

“The saintliness of Jesus is so warm and human that it attracts and inspires. We find in it nothing austere and inaccessible, like a statue in a niche. The beauty of Hid holiness reminds one rather of a rose, or a bank of violets. Jesus receives sinners and eats with them—all kinds of sinners. Nicodemus, the moral, religious sinner, and Mary of Magdala, ‘out of whom went seven devils’—the shocking kind of sinner. He comes into sinful lives as a bright, clear stream enters a stagnant pool The stream is not afraid if contamination but its sweet energy cleanses the pool. I remark again, and as connected with this that His sympathy is altogether lovely. He is always being ‘touched with compassion.’ The multitude without a shepherd, the sorrowing widow of Nain, the little dead child of the ruler, the demoniac of Gadara, the hungry five thousand—what ever suffers touches Jesus. His very wrath against the scribes and Pharisees is but the excess of His sympathy for those who suffer under their hard self-righteousness. Did you ever find Jesus looking for ‘deserving poor’? He ‘healed all their sick.’ And what grace in His sympathy! Why did He touch that poor leper? He could have healed him with a word as He did the nobleman’s son. Why, for years the wretch had been an outcast, cut off from kin, dehumanized. He lost the sense of being a man. It was defilement to approach him. Well, the touch of Jesus made him human again. A Christian woman, laboring among the moral lepers of London, found a poor street girl desperately ill in a bare, cold room. With her own hands she ministered to her, changinf her bed linen, procuring medicines, nourishing food, a fir, and making the poor place as bright and cherry as possible, and then she said, “May I pray with you?’ ‘No,’ said the girl, ‘you don’t care for me; you are doing this to get to heaven.’ Many days passed and the Christian woman unwearily kind, the sinful girl hard and bitter. At last the Christian said, ‘My dear, you are nearly well now, and I shall not come again, but as this is my last visit, I want you to let me kiss you,’ and the pure lips that had known only prayers and holy words me the lips defiled by oaths and unholy caresses—and then, my friends, the hard heart broke. Can you fancy Him calling a convention of the Pharisees to discuss methods of reaching the ‘masses’? That leads me to remark that His humility was altogether lovely, and He, the only one who ever had the choice of how and where He should be born, entered this life as one of the ‘masses.’ What meekness, what lowliness! ‘I am among you as one that serveth.’ He ‘began to wash the disciples’ feet.’ ‘When He was reviled He revileth not again.’ ‘As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.’ Can you think of Jesus posing and demanding His rights? But it is in His way with sinners that the supreme loveliness of Christ is most sweetly shown. How gentle He is, yet how faithful; how considerate, how respectful. Nicodemus, candid and sincere, but proud of his position as a master in Israel, and timid lest he should imperil it, ‘comes to Jesus by night.’ Before he departs, ‘the Master’ has learned his utter ignorance of the first step toward the kingdom, and goes away to think over the personal application of ‘they loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’ But he has not hear one harsh word, one utterance that can wound his self-respect. When He speaks to that silent despairing woman, after her accusers have gone out, one by one, He uses for ‘woman’ the same word He used when addressing His mother from the cross. Follow Him to Jacob’s well at high noon and hear His conversation with the woman of Samaria. How patiently He unfolds the deepest truths, how gently, yet faithfully He presses the great ulcer of sin which is eating away her soul. But He could not be more respectful to Mary of Bethany. Even in the agonies of death He could hear the cry of despairing faith. When conquerors return from far wars in strange lands they bring their chiefest captive as a trophy. It was enough for Christ to take back to heaven the soul of a thief. Yea, He is altogether lovely. And now I have left myself no room to speak of His dignity, of His virile manliness, of His perfect courage. There is in Jesus a perfect equipoise of various perfections. All the elements of perfect character are in lovely balance. His gentleness is never weak. His courage is never brutal. My friends, you may study these things for yourself. Follow Him through all the scenes of outrage and insult on the night and morning of His arrest and trial. Behold Him before the high priest, before Pilate, before Herod. See Him brow-beaten, bullied, scourged, smitten upon the face, spit upon, mocked. How His inherent greatness comes out. Not once does He lose His self-poise, His high dignity. Let me ask some unsaved sinner her to follow Him still further. Go with the jeering crowd without the gates; see Him stretched upon the great rough cross and hear the dreadful sound of the sledge as the spikes are forced through His hands and feet. See, as the yelling mob falls back, the cross, bearing the gentlest, sweetest, bravest, loveliest man, upreared until it falls into the socket in the rock. ‘And sitting down, they watched Him there.’ You watch, too. Hear Him ask the Father to forgive His murderers, hear all the cries from the cross. Is He not altogether lovely? What does it all mean? 'He bore our sins in His own body on the tree.’ By Him all that believe are justified from all things.’ ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.’ I close with a word of personal testimony. This is my beloved, and this is my friend. Will you not accept Him as your Saviour, and beloved and friend?”
          –From The Loveliness of Jesus by Dr. C.I. Scofield

“She delights in her husband, in his person, his character, his affection. To her he is not only the chief and foremost of mankind, but in her eyes, he’s all in all. Her heart’s love belongs to him, and to him only. He is her little world—her paradise—her choice treasure. She’s glad to sink her individuality in his. She seeks no renown for herself. His honor is reflected upon her and she rejoices in it. She will defend his name with her dying breath. Safe enough is he where she can speak of him. His smiling gratitude is all the reward she seeks. Even in her dress she thinks of him, and considers nothing beautiful that is distasteful to him. He has many objects in life—some of which she does not quite understand, but she believes in them all, and anything she can do to promote them, she delights to perform. Such a wife, as a true spouse, realizes the model marriage relation, and sets forth what our oneness with the Lord ought to be.”
          –Charles Spurgeon