The book of Ecclesiastes gives every evidence of being a carefully composed literary essay that must be grasped as a totality before it can be understood in part. The content of the book is defined by nearly identical verses (1:2; 12:8), which circumscribe the book by anticipating and by summarizing the conclusions of the author. The theme is set forth in 1:3, “What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun [that is, in this life]?” Or, can true wisdom be found by a human being apart from revelation from God?
Ecclesiastes shows that certain paths in life lead to emptiness. This profound book also helps us discover true purpose in life. Such wisdom can spare us from the emptiness that results from a life without God. Solomon teaches that people will not find meaning in life in knowledge, money, pleasure, work or popularity. True satisfaction comes from knowing that what we are doing is part of God’s purpose for our lives. This is a book that can help free us from our scramble for power, approval, and money, and draw us closer to God.
When Solomon became King, he asked God for wisdom and he became the wisest man in the world. He studied, taught, judged, and wrote. Kings and leaders from other nations came to Jerusalem to learn from him. But with all of his practical insight on life, Solomon failed to heed his own advice, and he began a downward spiral. Near the end of his life, Solomon looked back with an attitude of humility and repentance. He took stock of the world around as he had experienced it, hoping to spare his readers the bitterness of learning through personal experience that everything apart from God is empty, hollow, and meaningless.
Read Ecclesiastes and learn about life. Hear the stern warnings and dire predictions, and commit yourself to remember your Creator now.
Writer of Ecclesiastes
King Solomon of Israel, a ruler noted for his great wisdom and vast riches, has traditionally been accepted as the author of Ecclesiastes, though some scholars note that it uses words and phrases that belong to a much later time in Israel’s history.
Probably around 935 B.C., late in Solomon’s life. The name Ecclesiastes is derived from the Greek word ekklesia (assembly) and means “One Who Addressed An Assembly.” The Hebrew word so represented is “qoheleth,” which means “One Who Convenes An Assembly,” thus often being rendered “Teacher” or “Preacher” in English versions.
To Whom Written
Like the rest of the Bible’s Wisdom Literature, Ecclesiastes is concerned with imparting wisdom and knowledge to the people of God (12:9-11) and teaching them to fear the Lord. The speaker’s designation indicates that he is addressing an assembly of some kind, though his counsel in 5:1-7 would seem to suggest a setting outside of the Temple. The socioeconomic diversity of his audience is indicated by his remarks directed toward royal counselors as well as common farmers.
The book of Ecclesiastes has a powerful message for our selfish, materialistic age. It teaches that great accomplishments and earthly possessions alone do not bring lasting happiness. True satisfaction comes from serving God and following His will for our lives.
But another important truth from Ecclesiastes, which we often overlook, is that life is to be enjoyed. “Every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor – it is the gift of God” (3:1-13).
Special Consideration of Ecclesiastes
One of the most moving passages in the Bible is the poem from Ecclesiastes on the proper time for all events: “A time to be born, and a time to die” (3:2). This text, if taken seriously, can restore balance to our living.
Click here to download or print the Bible outline “Ecclesiastes – A Time for Everything“.