Summary: A look at Ecclesiastes 1:1-3


1. William Shakespeare wrote:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow

creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death.

Out, Out, brief candle

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

and then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury


2. The question before us is, “Is life really worth living?” In essence, Solomon concludes, “Not really! Not if you leave God out of the picture. It is a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing.”

3. The Subject of the book of Ecclesiastes – Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity! All is meaningless, pointless, emptiness, and useless. How utterly tragic when life becomes hollow and we feel unfulfilled, insignificant, useless, and just plain irrelevant. Listen to how various translations of the Bible puts it:

1 These are the words of the Quester, David's son and king in Jerusalem: 2 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That's what the Quester says.] There's nothing to anything—it's all smoke. 3 What's there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 (MSG)

1THE WORDS of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2“ Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher. “Vanity of vanities! All [that is done without God’s guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless— a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind].” [Rom 8: 20] 3What advantage does man have from all his work Which he does under the sun (while earthbound)? Eccles. 1:1-3 (AMB)

1These are the words of the teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Teacher: 2Life is fleeting, like a passing mist. It is like trying to catch hold of a breath; All vanishes like a vapor; everything is a great vanity. 3What good does it do anyone to work so hard again and again, sun up to sundown? All his labor to gain but a little? Eccles. 1:1-3 TVB)

1 When the son of David was king in Jerusalem, he was known to be very wise, and he said: 2 Nothing makes sense! Everything is nonsense. I have seen it all— nothing makes sense! 3 What is there to show for all of our hard work here on this earth?

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 (CEV)

I. The Subject of Ecclesiastes. 1:1-3

A. The Man who wrote this Journal. 1:1

1. He is a Speaker

The words of the Preacher - The root word means to assemble together. The implication is of one who spoke before an assembly of people. “Preacher” is not the only way to translate the Hebrew name Qoheleth, we could use words like Teacher, the Philosopher, or Spokesman… Yet “Preacher” may be the best translation of all. The Hebrew root of the word qoheleth literally means “to gather, collect, or assemble.” The verb qoheleth refers to the gathering or assembly of a community of people, especially for the worship of God. So Qoheleth is not so much a teacher in a classroom but more like a pastor in a church… “Ecclesiastes” is a form of the Greek word ekklesia, which is the common New Testament word for “church.” An ekklesia is not a church building but a congregation— a gathering or assembly of people for the worship of God. The word “ecclesiastes” is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word qoheleth. Literally, it means “one who speaks in the ekklesia”— that is, in the assembly or congregation… “Preacher” is a very appropriate title for Solomon. He was the king, of course, yet when Solomon dedicated the temple in 1 Kings 8, the Bible says that he “assembled” Israel (v. 1), and then it repeatedly says that the Israelites formed an “assembly” (e.g., v. 14).” [EWEM]

I can identify in the sense that I too am a speaker, but my problem is that I lack a listener. Perhaps Solomon had the same problem, because many, sort of, write of this book as – well, somewhat crazy! But not me, for some reason, this is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Some relate to this book like Jonah might have related to that large fish. A guest on the speaker’s platform was unexpectedly called upon to make a speech. He stammered for a moment, apologized for coming unprepared, then looked at the chairman and quoted what he claimed was Jonah’s admonition to the whale: “If you had kept your big mouth closed I wouldn’t be in this predicament now.” Many wish Solomon had kept his mouth closed because some of the things he will say leave us scratching our heads. Well we may not be able to understand all that he has to say but one thing is loud and clear to those who have ears – this life only makes sense when you include God and live it with eternity in mind.

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