Overview of Ecclesiastes

Text: Ecclesiastes 1:2

The book of Ecclesiastes is about Solomon’s pursuit for purpose and meaning in life. This is what everyone seeks. We want life to have meaning. We want to pursue a higher purpose. Where do we turn for meaning and purpose? Many pursue money, possessions, relationships, entertainment, careers, etc. to fill this void. Solomon did the same, but he eventually realized that they could not provide the meaning and purpose that came from serving God.

The Author of Ecclesiastes

  • Solomon – not named in the book, but there are certainly clues that indicate that he was the author
  • Son of David (Ecclesiastes 1:1) – David was a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22) and gave an important charge to his son Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:9)
  • King of Israel (Ecclesiastes 1:1) – important in this book; he had a position of power and privilege; this gave him an advantage of experience (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:9-10)
  • The Preacher” (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2; 12:9-10) – this book is not a personal diary that just happened to be found; it was meant to be read by others; contains a message for them and us
  • Solomon’s wisdom – miraculously given by God (1 Kings 3:12); exceeded the wisdom of other men (1 Kings 3:12; 10:6-7; Ecclesiastes 1:16)
  • He also displayed the necessary characteristics to obtain wisdom – he recognized God as the source of all blessings (1 Kings 3:6); he was humble (1 Kings 3:7); he appreciated his responsibility (1 Kings 3:8); he was selfless, putting others first (1 Kings 3:11)
  • Solomon’s fall – he was influenced by foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-4) and focused on worldly things (Ecclesiastes 2:1, 3, 4, 8); evidently, he ultimately turned back to God (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

The Subject Matter of Ecclesiastes

  • The futility of life “under the sun” – refers to the things of this life, things that are temporal; summarized at the beginning by perpetual cycles, pointless endeavors, and there being “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:3-11)
  • The vanity of worldly pursuits – whatever work/possessions/status we pursue is ultimately meaningless (Ecclesiastes 2:11, 16-17, 22-23); “striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14) is a phrase used throughout the book and emphasizes the fact that life on the earth is filled with unending pursuits and unattainable goals

The Main Point of Ecclesiastes

  • Fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13) – reverence and respect for God; obedience to God’s instructions
  • Everything else is ultimately meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
  • We will never realize our purpose if we do not look to God – He is our Creator; He gives us meaning

Conclusion

  • The book of Ecclesiastes is very practical – everyone, at some point, will recognize the futility of life and will seek after something “more”
  • But unless we seek after God, we will always come up empty
  • Lesson from Ecclesiastes – when we don’t know where else to turn, we need to turn to God

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