Old Testament Summaries: Book of Ecclesiastes

With the Book of Ecclesiastes, the importance of having God in your life is discussed. A main theme of the text focuses on the pride or senselessness of a life that does not have a real relationship with God. Although you may enjoy success and lead a happy life, the Bible suggests that it is without meaning if you do not have a relationship with God. In this article, you will learn more about the Book of Ecclesiastes.  

Who Wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes?

A specific author to the Book of Ecclesiastes is not easily detected, but traditionally, it is believed that Solomon wrote it. There are a handful of verses that point to the Biblical King as the author, who ruled over Israel from about 970 BC to 930 BC.  The Book of Ecclesiastes was most likely written towards the end of King Solomon’s reign ”“ around 935 BC.

A Breakdown of the Book

Throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes, there are two phrases that repeat ”“ ‘vanity’ and ‘meaningless’ (depending on which version you read) ‘Vanity’ appears heavily in the King James Version, while ‘meaningless’ is used often in the New International Version. When people die, even the most significant of achievements are left behind. Another popular word or phrase that appears in Ecclesiastes is ‘under the sun,’ which refers to the things that are earthly in regards to humans.

When reading the first seven chapters of Ecclesiastes, all of the worldly things (referred to as ‘under the sun’) are described. In the book, you will encounter the Preacher, who attempts to find fulfillment in different arenas, such as: scientific discovery (1:10-11), wisdom and philosophy (1:13-18), mirth (2:1), alcohol (2:3), architecture (2:4), property (2:7-8), and luxury (2:8). In the end, he learned that everything was meaningless ”“ temporary joys that meant nothing without God. These things proved to have no purpose or longevity in the scheme of things.

From chapters 8 to 12, the Preacher gives suggestions and comments on how a life should be carried on. His conclusion is that without God, life has no meaning or truth. After encountering many different negative aspects in life, he realizes that even the best things that man achieves are worth nothing in the long run. His advice to readers is to acknowledge God when they are young, and then follow His will.

To get an idea of the text offered in the Book of Ecclesiastes, consider the following verses from the New King James version of the Bible:

“Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘vanity of vanities, all is vanity'” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them.'” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)