Imagine having the world at your fingertips. God gave it all to young King Solomon when He gave him a wise and discerning heart. Like the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable, Solomon squandered God’s generous gift in wild living. Here in his Book of Ecclesiastes, he reports on his discoveries about a life of self-indulgence lived apart from God.
In the Book of Ecclesiastes, we find a realistic picture of life here on earth—one with real temptations, trials, doubts, joys, and faith. Although some of the language might seem lofty and unrelatable, we can look to the wisdom of Solomon presented here as a way to look at the imperfect Christian lives we lead here on earth.
Solomon—the son of King David and Bathsheba—wrote Ecclesiastes. Most scholars agree that he wrote this book at the end of his reign as king, after writing the Song of Songs early in his reign as king and Proverbs towards the middle. Looking at the three books sequentially, we see Solomon’s wandering from God and realization that this life is “vanity,” as he calls it, in Ecclesiastes. Yet, despite Solomon’s straying from God, we still see the wisdom God imparted to him in this book.
Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes to share the disillusionment he found when he pursued his own selfish goals, which opposed the purposes God had created him for. Solomon had forsaken God in favor of marrying idolatrous wives and concubines, who led him into idolatry.
Despite his failings, Solomon teaches us to find our enjoyment in our Creator’s good and gracious gifts—not in the things of this world—and to be confident He will faithfully provide our future needs.
In our twenty-first-century Western world, we often find ourselves surrounded by comfort. In our houses with our stable salaries and happy families, we might be tempted to forsake God’s ways for our own. Falling into habitual sin is dangerous, and we must attend worship and read God’s Word to remind ourselves of the only thing that can truly give us joy—God alone.
As you read Ecclesiastes, try to identify ways you might be falling away from God, even if they seem small. Ask God to help you place your hope and joy in Him alone.
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I kept my heart from no pleasure,
for my heart found pleasure in all my toil,
and this was my reward for all my toil.
Then I considered all that my hands had done
and the toil I had expended in doing it,
and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind,
and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
The end of the matter; all has been heard.
Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
with every secret thing,
whether good or evil.
Find out why Solomon described this life as “vanity” in the Book of Ecclesiastes.