The Book of Ecclesiastes - Introduction
By: Pastor David F. Reagan
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contains a total of 222 verses. In the Bible, the number
two is the number of division. Therefore, 222 indicates great
division just as 666 is the number of man in Revelation 13:18. The
book of Ecclesiastes prominently displays the separation between
heaven and earth. Compare this to the second day of creation. On
that day (day number two) the firmament was created to divide
between the heaven and earth. And, just as on this day God
never declared His creation to be good, so the book of Ecclesiastes
is clearly the most pessimistic book of the Bible.
clearly divides into two sections of six chapters each. This
division into two equal parts is a picture of separation between
God and man that marks the book. The first six chapters prove
conclusively the vanity of all things under the sun. The
second six chapters point to the importance of heavenly wisdom
in the midst of earthly vanity.
declares the absolute vanity of all things under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:1-3;
2:22; 6:11-12; 12:8). Biblical vanity does not refer to an
excessive care on good looks. Biblical vanity is emptiness or
mentions vanity 33 times. It refers to the emptiness of
life; in fact, of meaning of any sort, if God is left
out and there is no eternity or heaven (see also Psalm
Two keys will
help in understanding this total vanity as taught in Ecclesiastes:
- First, this vanity refers only to hose things
that are under the sun. The phrase under the sun
occurs 29 times in the book while under heaven
occurs three times. The book does not declare
eternal or heavenly things to be vain - only those
things connected to this earth and limited by time.
this vanity deals with permanent, not temporary, value. Something
is vain if it brings no ultimate value. The book emphasizes profit
(Ecclesiastes 1:3; 3:9; 5:16). Many things on earth have a temporary
value and are not evil in themselves. However, when these things
are examined in the light of eternity, they are worthless or vain. Consider
these verses (emphasis added):
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?” · Ecclesiastes
what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world
and lose his own soul?” · Mark
Structure of the Book
- The twofold
division of the book is clearly marked by the use of key words. Notice
how the following words and phrases are distributed between the
the sun” &
“wise” & “wisdom”
- The first
half of the book emphasizes the separation between heaven and earth. As
such, the word vanity and the phrases under the sun and under
heaven are much more common in this section. However,
the second half of the book emphasizes the wisdom we need as is
seen in the distribution of wise and wisdom.
- King Solomon
wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. Modernistic scholars deny
this but they are wrong. The internal evidence of the book
clearly identifies the author as Solomon. He is said to the “son
(1:1). And, he is called the “king over Israel in Jerusalem” (1:12). Only Solomon could be described by both of these statements. However,
a study of the book will also show that only Solomon could have described
the experiences told in the book.
- God appointed
Solomon as the author of three books of scripture: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
and Song of Solomon. Many Bible students have looked on these
three books as fruits of three times in the life of Solomon.
of Solomon – the
love song of Solomon’s youth.
II. Proverbs – the
wisdom of Solomon’s middle years.
III. Ecclesiastes – the
frustrations of Solomon’s old age.
- In the book
of Ecclesiastes, Solomon takes the position of a proclaimer
of truth. He refers to himself as the preacher (a
title not used in any other Old Testament book) a total of 7 times. He
uses this title three times at the beginning of the book (1:1,
2, 12), once in the middle of the book (7:27) and three times at
the end of the book (12:8, 9, 10). Solomon wants us to know
that he has been through it all and has tried everything. What
he speaks, he speaks with the voice of authority. We know that God inspired the words of the book.
Solomon wants us to know that he has lived it.
Life of Solomon
- Solomon was
born to David and Bathsheba after the death of the son who was
a product of their adulterous union (2Samuel 12:24). In David’s
old age, he appointed Solomon to reign as his successor (1Kings
Solomon became king, the Lord appeared to him in and offered to
give him whatever he desired. Solomon wisely asked for wisdom
and God blessed him in many ways (1Kings
wisdom and wealth were known throughout the world (1Kings
- But in the
height of Solomon’s glory, he planted the seeds that led to much
sorrow. He loved many women and took to himself a total of
one thousand wives and concubines. In his old age, these
wives led Solomon into idolatry so that his heart was not perfect
with God (1Kings
11:1-8). In return, the Lord sent adversaries to trouble Solomon in the later
years of his reign (1Kings
11:14, 23). But, for David’s sake,
he would not remove him (1Kings 11:13).
- The historical
accounts do not record Solomon’s reaction to God’s judgment. However,
the book of Ecclesiastes reveals that he did to some degree repent
of his sins. Ecclesiastes was written after Solomon had lived
and experienced almost all that this life has to offer (see 2:9-10,
25-26). The thousand women of Ecclesiastes 7:28 probably
refer to Solomon’s thousand wives and concubines (1Kings
book was certainly written toward the end of Solomon’s life.
- In Ecclesiastes
we learn that God will judge those who sin against Him (3:17; 5:8;
8:11-13; 11:9; 12:13-14). Solomon knew what he was preaching
about. He had experienced that judgment.
- In conclusion: Solomon
wrote Ecclesiastes as a warning to those who think they can be
satisfied with what the world has to offer. Solomon had tried
it all. He had taken of all the pleasures the world had to
offer. He could speak with experience. All is vanity
and vexation of spirit. Nothing under the sun offers any permanent profit. In the end,
the wise man is he who fears God and keeps His commandments (12:13).
For more information on Ecclesiastes, check out these Daily Portions
from the book: