This is the book in the Bible that begins, “Vanity of Vanity, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecc 1:2). Doesn’t that just make you feel chipper? One pastor said of this book, “Sounds like Solomon needs a hug.”
Martin Luther said of Ecclesiastes, “We should read this noble little book every day, precisely because it so firmly rejects sentimental religiosity!” In other words, this book can yank us out of a religious daze.
It is perfectly relevant to us. It speaks to finding satisfaction in knowledge, wealth, pleasure, work, fame and sex. It is not enough to say that we are living in a culture that seeks to find meaning in these things. Do we not often find ourselves facing the emptiness of these things in the world?
Ever feel like you are chasing the wind? Ecclesiastes is your friend. Those struggling with purpose and meaning will read Ecclesiastes and say, “He gets it! He feels what I feel!”
The book distinguishes between vain pursuits and meaningful living with a stinging clarity. It does not affirm or justify cynicism, skepticism, or fatalism. It doesn’t say life is meaningless. It reveals what are meaningless and vain pursuits in life. It is often convicting and it is insightful all the way through. It reveals vain pursuits and presents a life that matters.
Pray. Read. Listen.
May God build up the body of Christ as we get into this book of the Bible to see “Joy, Sorrow, Vanity and What Really Matters in Life”.
Note on Wisdom Literature
It is helpful to think about how wisdom literature works. Sidney Greidanus notes this about Old Testament wisdom literature:
“Wisdom is the result of practical experience and the careful observation of both the natural and human worlds. Out of all the chaos of experience, Wisdom finds customary ‘orders’ in the world—ways in which human beings and natural phenomena ordinarily behave. Its aim, then, is to teach men and women these ‘orders’, so they may know how to act in harmony with the world around them.”
Simply, Ecclesiastes is an opportunity to sit under someone who “has been there and done that” or “seen it all/been through it all." But not only has Solomon “been through it all” he has been given wisdom by God. In 1 Kings 3 Solomon prays for wisdom and God grants it to him.
This is a great book which helps us “see things as they are." Ultimately it will lead us to whom all things were created by, through and for—Jesus (Col 1:16).