Summary: If we look at life only from the viewpoint of the natural physical man, it can get very discouraging. Life is nothing more than one big “rat race.” That is what Solomon is seeing in this first chapter of Ecclesiastes.
"Round and Round We Go"
Rev. Julio González
The older we get, the more we begin to see life as an endless cycle. Babies are born, then they grow older and then they die. Then more babies are born. It rains, the sun shines for a while and then it rains again. We work, we eat, we sleep and then we get up the next day and do it all again. Spring comes, summer follows, then fall, then winter, and finally it is spring again. Everything goes round in circles. If we look at life only from the viewpoint of the natural physical man, it can get very discouraging. Life is nothing more than one big “rat race.” That is what Solomon is seeing in this first chapter of Ecclesiastes. He is contemplating these cycles of life and asking himself the question, "What does it all mean?" "What’s the point of it all?"
"If life is only part of a great cycle over which we have no control, is life worth living? If this cycle is repeated season after season, century after century, why are we unable to understand it and explain it? Solomon pondered these questions as he looked at the cycle of life ’under the sun,’ and he came to three bleak conclusions: nothing is changed (1:4-7), nothing is new (1:8-11), and nothing is understood (1:12-18). " ...W. W. Wiersbe
I. Nothing Ever Really Changes Ecc. 1:4-7
A. The Earth Essentially Remains the Same 1:4
Today we walk on the same earth and on the same ground where our ancestors walked. The planet really has not changed much since creation, (actually since the flood). Men still live, have children, and die. Generation passes into generation and time marches on, but for the most part, the earth remains a constant. Compared to the age of the trees man does not stay around long, and compared to the age of the rocks, the life of a man is short indeed.
"The earthly stage remains, but different actors are constantly passing across it." ...S. Olyott
"Fathers are going; children are coming after. None stayeth. The house abideth, but the tenants are continually changing." ...C. Bridges
B. The Sun Still Shines 1:5
Even on cloudy days, the sun still shines. It has done so for thousands of years and will continue to do so until the Lord no longer has need of it. As long as man can remember, there has always been night and day. The earth continues to revolve around the sun in a continuous, seemingly endless cycle. Days have past, and are passing, and will continue to pass, until God moves us all into eternity. One day quickly dissolves into another. Without God, “What’s the point of it all?”
“The sun rises in the morning and sets at evening in our hemisphere,according to the appearance of things; and then it makes haste to go round the other hemisphere in the night: it "pants", as the word [hastens] signifies; the same figure is used by other writers; like a man out of breath with running; so this glorious body, which rejoiceth as a strong man to run his race, and whose circuit is from one end of the heavens to the other, Ps 19:5,6; is in haste to get to the place where he rose in the morning, and there he makes no stop, but pursues his course in the same track again. By this instance is exemplified the succession of the generations of men one after another, as the rising and setting of the sun continually follows each other; and also sets forth the restless state of things in the world, which, like the sun, are never at a stand, but always moving, and swiftly taking their course.” ...J. Gill
C. The Wind Always Blows 1:6
Where does the wind go and where does it come from? What makes it blow harder on one day than on the other? Like the earth and the sun, it too runs in a continuous cycle.
“Today we know that the wind follows certain patterns. The weatherman tells us that there is a low pressure here and a high pressure there. There is movement; winds are blowing. It is obeying certain laws as it is blowing. How did Solomon know that? The whole process follows certain definite, specific laws. In verses 4-7, we have four remarkable statements concerning the laws of nature that make sense and fit right into what men know today. Compare this with other writings that come from one thousand years before Christ. You will find a great deal of false conclusions and superstitions in contrast to the accuracy you find in the Word of God.” ...J. V. McGee
D. The Waters Continue to Cycle 1:7
It rains and fills the creeks, which drain into the rivers. The rivers run into the ocean and the moisture from the oceans evaporate into the sky. The weight of the moisture in the clouds produce rain and the cycle continues as it has since the days of Noah’s flood.