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Take a Deeper Look: Ecclesiastes

The Five “W’s” of Ecclesiastes

Who wrote it? Since the author didn’t give his name, but referred to himself only as “the teacher” or “preacher” (Hebrew: Q””heleth, Greek: ekkl””siast””s), we cannot be certain. However, most of the evidence suggests that King Solomon was the author. We can conclude this because the writer identified himself as a son of David and king over Israel in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 1:1, 12). He also said he was the wisest person to rule Jerusalem (1:16), built extensive projects (2:4-6), and had great wealth (2:7-8).

What is it? Ecclesiastes is probably best understood as a “journal” of Solomon’s reflections on meaning and purpose from the world’s limited perspective. It is his presentation of evidence and conclusions based on observations and experiences for those who have neither the time nor the resources to take the journey themselves.

Where was it written? Solomon said repeatedly that he was king over Jerusalem in Israel (1:1, 12), and this book was probably written there.

When was it written? Ecclesiastes was probably written about 925 BC, toward the end of Solomon’s life. As an old man, Solomon wisely reflected on his journey through life, including his drift away from and back to God.

Why was it written? While affirming a high view of God’s sovereignty and humanity’s utter dependence on Him (Ecclesiastes 3:4), Ecclesiastes was written to show that life apart from God is empty and meaningless. Verse 2:11 says, “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after the wind and there was no profit under the sun.” Yet Solomon ended by saying, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13). While life apart from God is frustrating, life with God and enjoying His gifts with thanksgiving can be abundant, regardless of our daily circumstances.

Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Living on the Ragged Edge: Finding Joy in a World Gone Mad Workbook, (Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, A Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2005), 3. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved.

Meaningless, Pt. 1

Sunday I started a 4-part series on the book of Ecclesiastes. We started by looking at Ecclesiastes 2:9-11. I would encourage each of you to take time and read through the book in its entirety each week. Here’s what we looked at this week:

What I want us to see is that even if we could have everything we have ever desired and then some, it would not be enough. At the end of the day we would feel empty, we would want more, and we would feel like something was missing. All the wealth, friends, and material articles in this world will leave us wanting more.

  1. There is enjoyment in life (9-10a)
  2. There is joy in working hard for something (10b)
  3. All is meaningless (11)

So what should we take away from this passage?

  1. Pleasure-seeking usually becomes a selfish endeavor. So remember, People are more important than things and thrills. We are to be channels, not reservoirs; the greatest joy comes when we share God’s pleasures with others.
  2. If you live for pleasure alone, enjoyment will decrease unless the intensity of the pleasure increases. So remember that when pleasure alone is the center of life, the result will ultimately be disappointment and emptiness.
  3. Pleasure alone can never bring satisfaction: it appeals to only part of the person and ignores the total being. True pleasure not only brings delight, but it also builds character by enriching the total person.

My goal in life: Love God and Serve Others

The book that portrays the pointlessness of everything really does have a point to make!

  1. Solomon had it all and yet felt empty, what are you trying to go after that is ultimately leaving you empty?
  2. In what way this week can you share or show Christ to someone?