By Toni Ford
When reading it for the first time, the Book of Ecclesiastes can be confusing to read and easily misunderstood.
King Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, began his reign as a humble servant of the Lord, seeking God’s wisdom and help. In 1 Kings 3: 5-10, we see where God visited Solomon in a dream in which God told Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted, and He would give it to him. Of all the things Solomon could have asked for, his only request was for wisdom and an understanding heart so that he could govern God’s people well and know the difference between right and wrong.
As Solomon grew older, however, his heart turned away from God and he began to turn to the false gods of the many wives he had taken from foreign lands. These marriages were motivated mostly by politics as he sought alliances with these foreign lands and/or nations that surrounded Israel. We read in 1 Kings 11 where the Solomon’s latter years were miserable because God removed His hand of blessing. God maintained Solomon’s throne only because of His promise to David.
Solomon actually wrote three books in the Old Testament – Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. He probably wrote Proverbs and Song of Solomon during the years that he was faithfully walking with the Lord. It is believed near the end of his life that he wrote Ecclesiastes.
Proverbs is written from the viewpoint of a wise teacher and Song of Solomon from the viewpoint of a royal lover, but when he wrote Ecclesiastes, Solomon called himself “The Preacher” (Eccl. 1:1-2). In this short book of 12 chapters, Solomon would present a topic, discuss it from many viewpoints and come to a practical conclusion. Due to the fact that as Solomon’s heart had turned from God in his later years of life and that he had seen and experienced almost as much as there was to this life “under the sun,” it is no surprise that the main question “The Preacher” raised throughout the book of Ecclesiastes was, “Is life worth living?”
King Solomon writes that life is filled with difficulties and perplexities and there is much that nobody can understand, let alone control. From the human point of view, it is all vanity and folly. King Solomon liked the word “vanity” so much so that he used it 38 times throughout this book. The word means “emptiness, futility, vapor, that which vanishes quickly and leaves nothing behind.”
From the human point of view, which Solomon ref-erred to as “under the sun,” life does appear futile and it is easy for us to get pessimistic about life here on earth. However, the truth is that life is God’s gift to us, and He wants us to enjoy life and use it for His glory. If we focus on what He has given us rather than on what we do not have, our perspective will change from complaining to thankfulness.
The good news is that So-lomon had come full circle by the end of Ecclesiastes. In the beginning of the book, Solomon was experimenting and living “life under the sun,” believing life was not worth living and only full of vanity. By the end of the book, Solomon, being a wise man, reviewed all his arguments about life. This time, he brought God into the picture, which changed everything. Solomon was finally able to put life into God’s perspective to say that life without Jesus Christ was indeed “vanity and vexation of spirit” (Eccl. 1:14). But when you know Him personally and live for Him faithfully, you experience “fullness of joy and pleasures forever more” (Psalms 16:11).
Next week, I will share King Solomon’s final conclusion and what he believed to be the three most important words of wisdom for living this life.
Dear Jesus, although we all have experienced rough times here on earth, help us see life as Your gift to us, and may we always be mindful of Your blessings to us. May we be slow to complain but quick to give You thanks. Thank You for always working on our behalf, even when we might not be able to see it with our physical eyes. We love You and we thank You!
If you would like me to join you in prayer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for you!