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Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 Part 2

Read Ecc. 1:12-18

Solomon says that all pursuits 'under the sun' will bring no lasting fulfillment to the person who accomplishes that pursuit. There are people who hear this and want to say to Solomon… “Maybe for you but my life will be better.” Verses 12-18 is Solomon’s response to those people. He laughs at them as he points out the fact that he's the “king over all Israel.” At the time that Solomon writes Ecclesiastes there has been about forty years of peace and he's been able to do whatever he wanted with Israel’s wealth yet it was all simply a puff of smoke. No person will find eternal purpose in an earthly pursuit no matter how great they are.

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Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 Part 1

Read verses 1-11

vv.1-2 Remember the original Hebrew definition of meaningless. Here is a link to some of the important terms in Ecclesiastes just in case you need to re-read them.

vv.3-7 Notice the cycle of life OR the mundane attribute of work and day to day activity. Solomon says its meaningless because you end up right back where you started. It’s somewhat like the irony of a hospital…on one floor someone is dying while on another floor a baby is being born.

V. 8- This verse is the climax of this eleven verse poem and it says that enough is never enough. Meaning that while running on the treadmill of life you can run all day and never really get anywhere.

  • If your pursuit is wealth…there will never be enough money in your bank account.
  • If a healthy body…you’ll never be fit enough.
  • If a clean house…it simply gets dirty a couple of days later.

vv.9-11 In this section Solomon recognizes some of the places a human would turn to bring meaning and purpose. New situations: so when things aren’t going so great at your job…move companies. New trinkets: for a short period of time that new piece of technology will pacify you from reality. Being Remembered: making our life mean something or doing great things.

Please keep in mind that we are journeying with Solomon as he searches out what brings meaning/satisfaction to life. In this chapter he is laying out for us things that don’t bring satisfaction. A huge point to recognize is that Solomon is searching for things that are “under the sun.” Our meaning in life can only be found in God who is above the sun.

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Terms in Ecclesiastes

Terms

  • Meaningless or Vanity- the original Hebrew word is like a vapor or puff of smoke. It seems solid and real but when reaching out it vanishes into thin air.
  • Under the Sun/Under the Heavens- here on earth where all of us humans live. The reason why we see these phrases many time in Ecclesiastes is that purpose or satisfaction can’t be found here but only in a pursuit of something outside of our reality.
  • Chasing after the wind- a human’s pursuit of meaning, success or satisfaction that is always alluding us or can never fully be reached on this earth.
  • Lord- the name that Solomon uses for God throughout this book is interesting…He always uses the name of God that points to God being the Master or God being more ultimate than any circumstance. 

I think before you jump into Ecclesiastes you should know that we have a major advantage over Solomon…JESUS. Solomon longed for a time when God’s love would become fully known through the Messiah. Today, you can live under the grace of God that comes only through Jesus. Find your meaning in Him.

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Ecclesiastes Author

 
 

Ecclesiastes is named after the key character, "the teacher." This semester at CSF JMU we will join the author Solomon on his journey as he explores the meaning of life through the key character. The primary struggle throughout this book is how to live wisely in the many challenges that humans face on a daily basis. While this book has a darkness to it, that darkness is the best way to see the gems of wisdom that are scattered throughout.

Check out this video by the Bible Project to get an overview of Ecclesiastes.

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