Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
Book Overview - Ecclesiastes
Name. The Hebrew word means preacher and refers to or signifies one who calls together and addresses assemblies.
The Personal or Human Element. Such expressions as "I perceived," "I said in my heart," "I saw," etc., indicate that it is not the will of God that is developed but a man is telling of his own ventures and utter failure.
General View. The General View or Key-phrase is "under the sun," with the sad refrain, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity", and shows how a man under the best possible conditions sought for joy and peace, trying at its best every human resource. He had the best that could be gotten, from human wisdom, from wealth, from worldly pleasure, from worldly honor, only to find that all was "vanity and vexation of spirit." It is what a man, with the knowledge of a holy God, and that He will bring all into judgment, has learned of the emptiness of things "under the sun" and of the whole duty of man to "fear God and keep his commandments."
Purpose of the Book. The purpose, then, is not to express the doubts or skepticism of the writer, not to record the complaining of a bitter spirit. It is not the story of a pessimist or of an evil man turned moralist. But it is intended to show that, if one should realize all the aims, hopes and aspirations of life, they would not bring satisfaction to the heart. His experience is used to show the result of successful worldliness and self-gratification in contrast with the outcome of the higher wisdom of the Godly life. We are shown that man was not made for this world alone and not for selfish achievement or gratification, but to fulfill some great plan of God for him which he will accomplish through obedience and Divine service.
The Date and Authorship. The opening verse and certain other passages such as some of the conditions as well as the characters of the persons represented in the book give the impression that Solomon wrote it, but there are other evidences that point to some other author. Neither the author nor the date of writing has been definitely determined.
For Study and Discussion. (1) Make a list of all the different things enumerated as a failure or vanity. (2) Make a list of the different things coming to us as God's gift of providence. (3) Make a list of prudential maxims or rules which teach how to live rightly and to lift us above the tribulations and defeat of life. (4) Does the author think seeking pleasure is the real business of life? (5) Does he deny the value of altruistic service? (6) Does he believe in the future life and in future rewards?
Monday, January 16th, 2017
the Second Week after Epiphany