I was drawn to this Book which resulted in this weeks blog because of the obvious human sorrow of the writer. We today are in a time of great vexation and now more than ever we need God in our lives. jk
The last few weeks we have dealt with some books of contentious thought and this week is no different. Ecclesiastes is a book that is many things too many different people but seems to hold a majority of thought, or consensus that most believers find to be baffling and to some even wrongheaded. From the get-go there were strong efforts to exclude it from the list of sacred books and even now it has a very small place in liturgical practice. In Jewish liturgical practice it is of greater use only because it is one of the five scrolls that are read at the festivals. It is said that this book encourages conversation because of its grasp of the truth. That, however is quickly walked back by those who say its value is it serves as a dark background against the shining light of the gospel. There is a wealth of information available about the book of Ecclesiastes, extensive and easily available. The one question that is asked in most commentaries….Who wrote Ecclesiastes or better yet who is Qohelet in Ecclesiastes? This question after all this time has not gained a solid acknowledgement that it was Solomon. Is he Qoheleth, the teacher and in turn the Preacher. The following is from gotquestions.org : All in all, there seems to be no solid evidence against Solomon’s identity as the Qoheleth, and a fair amount of circumstantial evidence supporting it. The most common conclusion, therefore, is that the Preacher of Ecclesiastes is Solomon, the son of David. There is no end to the uniqueness of these writings. Qohelet speaks of toil and life as practically one and the same. People find themselves in a world devoid of the presence and friendship of God, leaving them to fend for themselves on hard ground, living a life in constant toil that only ends in death. The name of this book signifies “The Preacher.” (Matthew Henry) …So let’s begin here. The wisdom of God comes to us through the words of Solomon. Some write that here close to the end of his life he recognizes his sins and follies, perhaps we might think of these writings as the book of his repentance. Whatever the view we choose it is painfully clear that the vanity of the world cannot make us happy and the vileness of sin is sure to make us miserable. All that we consider or have created cannot satisfy our souls. Our happiness will be found only in God. Those teachings and doctrine that come from God and lead to the heart of Christ, they alone matter. Follow now as we break down this 1st Chapter.
In Ecclesiastes 1: 1-3, Solomon shows that all human things are vain. Solomon returns from a broken and empty world and begins to address his bitterness and disappointment, along with the lessons he has learned. ‘If there is any value in my words let those who accept this warning turn and live and go on to warn others’. I think here I might inject the fact that most of us value our stuff too much.We are vain in our attempts to accumulate. We labour hard for this stuff and fail to realize that all the wealth this world has to offer will never be enough to make us happy, our vanity will never allow that.We never seem to know when enough is enough. The lesson the Teacher imparts to us is that it cannot satisfy our soul, nor can it atone for the sins of our soul. The wealth of the world will be of no use in death and the judgement of the soul that is to come. As we move to vv. 4-8 we are told that all things never cease to change. Just as there is never any rest for the sun, the wind or the flow of a river, the soul of man will find no rest if is not from God. We are a sorry lot. Even as we grow weary we still seek that which we have not yet attained. In vv. 9-11 The Teacher laments that men’s hearts are as corrupted as they were in days past. Their desires, pursuits and complaints remain the same as in years gone by. We might have expected them and even ourselves today, given the state we find ourselves in, to seek happiness in the eternal blessings. It is even noted here that the things and the people who were thought to be great are remembered no more. We close out this chapter vv. 12-18 noting this quote from Matthew Henry’s commentary, “Solomon tried all things, and found them vanity.” He, Solomon, is weary in mind and body. He could get no satisfaction from his sins and past follies and found them no good to others. As he pursued knowledge and wisdom he began to see the wickedness and misery men inflicted on each other. These revelations only served to increase the lament and mourning that tortured his soul.
We would do well to hate and fear sin, which has been the source of our vanity and misery. We must learn to seek and value a relationship with Christ. It is here we will find rest, knowledge and love in the service of our Savior.
Please read Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 and thank you for coming by the Pew this week.
Life is Good
Source Material: NIB Volume 5. Matthew Henry Commentary