Introduction to Ecclesiastes

As a result of feverishly pursuing the things that make life pleasurable and comfortable, many people are left feeling dry and thirsting for something more. Ecclesiastes maps the routes that Solomon explored while searching for the meaning of life under the sun. Ecclesiastes can help us to chart a course past dead-end routes to the source of life’s true meaning.

Contents — Ecclesiastes examines and questions a variety of efforts to find fulfillment in life apart from God. The book cautions against searching for life’s meaning in the accumulation of things, in the pursuit of human wisdom, and in pleasurable experiences. The book concludes with the practical instruction to trust and obey God.

Purpose — Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s candid journal of his experiments with various pleasures, possessions, power, and knowledge in an effort to find the meaning of life under the sun. When he summed up the total of his findings, Solomon concluded that life apart from God had no meaning.

Themes — The theme of Ecclesiastes appears in the prologue, “Everything is futile” (1:2), and moves toward the conclusion in the epilogue, “Fear God and keep His commands” (12:13). The discourses between these verses lead to the conclusion that life’s ultimate meaning is not found under the sun (where “everything is futile”), but above or beyond the sun (in God).

Writer and Date — The absence of the writer’s name in Ecclesiastes has led scholars to debate its authorship. Assuming, however, that Solomon was the author, Ecclesiastes was written in the tenth century B.C.

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