Summary: Introduction to Ecclesiastes
Ecc. 1:1-3 INTRODUCTION
Rev. Julio González
"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?"
"What is life all about? What is the point of living? Why should we work so hard to gain things that we will eventually loose or leave to others? What really matters in life?" These are just a few of the questions that Solomon tries to answer in the Book now before us. Ecclesiastes may seem, at first, like a hard book to understand, but it is a very worthwhile and important book to study for our own personal spiritual growth. Unfortunately, most Christians give the Book very little thought. In fact, many of us would have to agree with the following testimony.
"For years I had a Bible with two books missing [Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon]. They had been printed all right, but I never read them. I could not make head nor tail of them, and so ignored them. For all practical purposes, they did not exist. Not unnaturally, my spiritual life was stunted, for my Lord declared, ’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ (Matt. 4:4)."
Ecclesiastes was written for us and we cannot ignore it without impoverishing ourselves. Its style is not quite what we are used to, but its message is plain. It tells us what kind of living is worthwhile. This it does by a process of reasonings, reflections, observations and conclusions, all encapsulated in pithy [deep and meaningful] and brief lines of poetry." ...S. Olyott
However, there are certain things about the Book you will need to know if you are going to understand its message.
I. The Messenger Ecc. 1:1-2
A. Who wrote the Book?
There is almost no question as to the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The "Preacher" as he calls himself, is obviously King Solomon. "This we should have thought had been a matter placed beyond controversy. ’The words... of the Son of David - King of Jerusalem’ - seem to point with absolute precision to Solomon - the only ’Son of David,’ who was the possessor of that royalty,(1:1,12)." ...C. Bridges
B. When did he write the Book?
It also seems obvious that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes later in his life. It is a book where we see him looking back and contemplating how his life has been spent and asking himself, "What was the meaning of it all?"
“Solomon began his reign as a humble servant of the Lord, seeking God’s wisdom and help (I Kings 3:5-15). As he grew older, his heart turned away from Jehovah to the false gods of the many wives he had taken from foreign lands (I Kings 11:1). The kings later years were miserable because God removed His hand of blessing (I Kings 11:1) and maintained Solomon’s throne only because of His promise to David.
Ecclesiastes appears to be the kind of book a person would write near the close of life, reflecting on life’s experiences and the lessons learned. Solomon probably wrote Proverbs (Prov. 1:1, I Kings 4:32) and the Song of Solomon (1:1) during the years he faithfully walked with God; and near the end of his life, he wrote Ecclesiastes. There is no record that King Solomon repented and turned to the Lord, but his message in Ecclesiastes suggests that the did.” ...W. W. Wiersbe
II. The Method of Delivery Ecc. 1:3
"In this book Solomon looks at life from two viewpoints. First of all he stands in one position, and then in the other, and does this alternately throughout the book. He sees the same issues from two perspectives. It is virtually impossible to make sense of Ecclesiastes unless this simple fact has been grasped first." ...S. Olyott
A. "Solomon’s first viewpoint is that of a natural man. He sees life through the
eyes of a person who is still unconverted. Such a person tackles life’s problems
without the light of God’s revelation. He leaves God out of the picture, and never ponders His Word. The only conclusion he can come to is that
‘All is vanity’ (1:2)." ... S. Olyott
In other words, "the man of the world... has stumbled at the very
threshold [at the very beginning]. He has placed the world before God -
the body before the soul - time before eternity." ... C. Bridges
B. "Solomon’s other viewpoint is radically different. He now looks at life
through the eyes of a man to whom God has revealed Himself. Such a person
sees everything in a new light. Life has meaning after all, but only if we
worship and serve God. When he stands in this position, Solomon’s words ring