Overview of Ecclesiastes

Chapter 1.  Life is a fog; we see what’s going on, it’s monotonous and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Chapter 2.  You can have all the riches of life and you will be forgotten just as easily as anyone else.  Pleasure doesn’t bring joy.

  • The point of these chapters is to get the reader to see the futility life apart from submission to God.

Chapter 3.  (more…)

Living the Simple Life to the Glory of God

Ecclesiastes 5:8-20

When we hear of the simple life, we think of something like the movie, Holiday Inn. The movie starts with Bing Crosby buying an old farmhouse and moving out from bustling city life to live simply. As with most movies things soon go awry, but the idea is a prominent one. All men want to be free from worries and cares and enjoy life, but they go about it the wrong way. They think the way out is more riches, or more worry about the plight of the poor. In this passage, Solomon is describing how we are to live because we know that God is in control. He gives five admonitions Remembering that the foundational doctrine of this book is that God is sovereign, the author teaches us how to view both oppression and riches, and in doing so teaches us the life we ought to strive for.

Don’t despair over oppression – verse 8 We’re told not to be surprised when we see the oppression of the poor and perversion of justice because God is over all. This contradicts our natural response to such things. At first it appears (more…)

Joy in the Sovereignty of God

Ecclesiates 3:1-15

This passage begins the second section of the book of Ecclesiastes.  In the first section, Solomon spoke of the emptiness, the futility of life apart from Christ.  We can’t rely on anything to bring satisfaction.  You build something, it gets torn down.  Pleasure is fleeting.  Solomon ended the section by saying there is no joy apart from God, and that all joy is the gift of the Almighty.  The last verse in chapter 2 said that although God is blessing the sinner, they are actually God’s vault where He stores up for the righteous.

How does that work?  We don’t see it happen on a regular basis, so how can we be joyful and trust that He will bring these things to pass? The point is that we see that the root of our joy comes from faith in God’s sovereignty over everything in life.  (more…)

Joy in the Sovereignty of God

test 2

The emptiness of pleasure – 2

Ecclesiastes 2:4-11

In Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:3, Solomon described the how he pursued wisdom, and rather than being a blessing, it allowed him to see all the more how empty life is.  No matter how wise he was, he could not straiten what God has made crooked.  So he pursued laughter and comedy (apart from God) and was empty, and he gave himself to food and wine (both gifts of God), discovering again that they are impossible to enjoy apart from submission to God.  Those things, though, still don’t convince him.  Remember that the book is about how to enjoy (and not enjoy) life.  Everything under the sun is vanity (empty) because God is working out His designs; we can’t figure out God and shouldn’t try.  We are called to obey Him with a glad heart, enjoy what He gives us, and trust Him when things don’t turn out the way we want.

We come to the last four areas where Solomon looked for joy, but couldn’t find it.  Apart from God, it isn’t there.  (more…)

How do we find joy?

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3

We like control.  It comes naturally to us.  We want set patterns to be established and left unchanged. 

  • It’s a struggle for both men and women, but men have it especially hard. 
  • They have been given the responsibility of tending the garden of their families, and when something unexpected comes along, they are blown away.  But women also struggle. 
  • They like control in their homes and when something comes up unplanned, it frustrates them.  That’s one reason why we all like rules.  They give us structure and a base (which is not bad). 
  • But we get mad when something or someone comes along and doesn’t follow the rules. 
  • That’s also one reason we like Proverbs.  It is clear, straightforward, and to the point.  This is like this, that is like that.  Do this and you receive blessing, do this and you are cursed. 
  • But it’s also why we don’t like Ecclesiastes.  It’s not as straightforward; the meaning is not as clear.  And why does he talk about vanity so much? 
  • The meaning is clear, if you’re willing to see it: apart from submission to God, life is meaningless. Only those who are in submission to God have the capacity to enjoy life as He intended.

This leads us to the author of Ecclesiastes. 

  • Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, according to the Bible.  But he fell. 
  • We have the recording of that fall in I Kings 11.  We’re told he loved many women, and his wives (700 of them) turned his heart away.  The Lord corrected him (I Kings11:11-13). 
  • And we don’t know exactly what took place after that, at least in the historical books. 
  • Ecclesiastes is the wisdom of Solomon after he repented. 
  • We’re told in the beginning that it is written by the preacher.  This means it is a record of one who called others to hear the word of God. 
  • In the same verse he calls himself the son of David, king of Jerusalem.  There is only one son of David who was king of Jerusalem and that’s Solomon. 
  • Because the Bible says that, we shouldn’t try to look for other sources, but take God at His word. 

The period of his writing it should be pretty clear, for refers to the experiences he’s had with sin and appeals to the wisdom he’s gained as a result.  But how should we read the book?  (more…)