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INTRODUCTION TO ECCLESIASTES
Ecclesiastes reports the vanity, or utter futility, of life under the sun, a term which signifies life without fellowship with God, as revealed by personal experiences and observations of the great king Solomon. The vast resources of Solomon were used unstintingly to examine the many and varied aspects of life under the sun (Ecclesiastes 8:9). The report includes Solomon’s acknowledgment of days of vanity in his own life.
Ecclesiastes reveals many failures of man, but it is inspired of God and has a purpose to call all, both young and old; to FEAR GOD. This term refers to a reverential trust in God that prompts love for and obedience to Him (Ecclesiastes 3:14; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Ecclesiastes 7:18; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10).
Ecclesiastes was written in the l0th century B. C., in the latter days of Solomon.
Verse 1 Identifies the author as the preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem, further identified as king over Israel in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 1:12) and as a ruler of wisdom (Ecclesiastes 1:16; Ecclesiastes 12:9) and great wealth (Ecclesiastes 2:4-8). This description thus identifies as author, Solomon, the only son of David to reign over Israel in Jerusalem. The term "preacher" is from a word meaning convenor, one who called people together for religious purposes.
KEY TO ECCLESIASTES
Verse 2 responds to the question of verse 3 with the answer, "vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (under the sun), which means utter futility or uselessness. The substance of this answer is repeated in Ecclesiastes 37 times.
Verse 3 asks the question pondered throughout Ecclesiastes: What profit is there in man’s labors "under the sun," or what benefits result when God’s will is ignored and life is lived under the sun, according to human desire and reasoning? Life, "under the sun," is considered 29 times in Ecclesiastes.
THE DISAPPOINTING ROUTINE OF LIFE UNDER THE SUN
Verse 4 emphasizes that there is no continuance of life under the sun. The earth remains, but one generation after another of its inhabitants appears, then passes away, 1 Chronicles 29:15; Job 7:6; Psalms 104:5; James 4:14.
Verses 5-7 suggest that even nature repeats its function of sunrise, sunset, wind circuits and flow of waters, with monotonous regularity, Ecclesiastes 11:5; Psalms 19:4-6; John 3:8.
Verse 8 reveals that man is never satisfied with life under the sun. The more he sees and hears of the monotonous cycle, the greater his desire for something else, Proverbs 27:20.
Verses 9-10 declare that there is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiastes 3:15. Hebrews 4:3 agrees that the works were finished from the foundation of the world. The atom was finished then, though unknown to man; so also was all else finished. There is no real variety in the prospects of man under the sun. He lives, longs, and labors for certain satisfactions, as did his predecessors, then dies and leaves it all, as will those who follow him, Job 14:1-2.
Verse 11 emphasizes how quickly man’s deeds are forgotten. Of what worth then are his accomplishments under the sun? See Ecclesiastes 2:16; Ecclesiastes 6:3-4; Ecclesiastes 8:10; Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalms 34:16; Deuteronomy 32:26.
SOLOMON SEEKS SATISFACTION THROUGH HUMAN WISDOM
Verses 12-13 declare Solomon’s commitment to seek, by his wisdom, to find that which satisfies, under the sun. The language used indicates intent that the search be widespread, to include all areas and that each study be thorough.
Verses 14-15 report Solomon’s conclusion that all works done under the sun are vanity and vexation of spirit, as void of satisfaction to man as striving after the wind. Man cannot make straight, that which God has made crooked, or contrary to his desire, nor can he supply that which God has omitted.
Verses 16-18 stress the great wealth and wisdom Solomon had which enabled him to search extensively and thoroughly for satisfaction he sought to achieve by human wisdom. He concluded that such human resource is vanity and vexation of spirit and a cause of much grief and sorrow.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
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