Ecclesiastes Lesson 1
“THE BOOK OF PESSIMISM”
KEY VERSE: ECCLESIASTES 1:2 “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
THEME: Human View of Life – “In this Book God has given a record of all that human thinking and natural religion has ever been able to discover concerning the meaning and goal of life.” Mrs. Henrietta C. Mears
DATE: 979 B.C.
WRITER: Solomon – Solomon is called the Preacher and lists himself in verse one as the son of David, King of Jerusalem.
WRITTEN: Ecclesiastes is written to sum up the personal philosophy of human life. Some have suggested that two statements may be used to summarize the entire Book of Ecclesiastes. The first statement is from the Bible. It says, “…We have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing…” Luke 5:5. The second statement is from a Chicago sewer employee, who said, “I digge de ditch to getta de money to buye de food to getta de strength to digge de ditch.”
THE BOOK: NO. IN BIBLE: 21st of 66 Books of Bible NO. OF CHAPTERS: 12 NO. OF VERSES: 222 NO. IN ORDER OF WRITING: 4th of Five Books of Poetry
PURPOSE: To Show That True Happiness Apart From God is Impossible. – The verdict of “vanity of vanities” is pronounced upon any philosophy of life that regards the created world of human enjoyment as an end in life itself.
DIVISIONS: 1. EMPTINESS OF PLEASURE (1-3) 2. EMPTINESS OF RICHES (4-6) 3. EMPTINESS OF FOOLISHNESS (7-11) 4. EMPTINESS OF UNGODLINESS (12)
FACTS: The statement, “under the sun,” is found 29 times in the book of Ecclesiastes, indicating that things discussed here are earthly and human principles. The key words in Ecclesiastes are: “man”, used 47 times; “labor” used 36 times; and “vanity” used 37 times. Solomon wrote from a background of all that wealth could demand, all that wisdom and love of learning could invent or devise, and all that fame could bring. Solomon had it all, and in full measure. Solomon also had a proud ancestry, a godly father, a rich national heritage, and a personal knowledge of God and His Word.
I. THE PREACHER’S SUBJECT (1:1-11)
1. He states his text (1:1, 2)
2. He states his topic (1:3-11)
II. THE PREACHER’S SERMON (1:12-3:20)
1. Some of the things he had sought (1:12-2:26)
2. Some of the things he had seen (3:1-6:12)
3. Some of the things he had studied (7-10)
III THE PREACHER’S SUMMARY (11-12)
1. He repeats his complaint about life (11)
2. He relates his conclusions about life (12)
MISCELLANEOUS: A prime minister of Britain, Lord Beaconfield, stated in the hay day of the British Empire, “Youth is a mistake, manhood a struggle, and old age a regret.” Solomon could have told him that. Power, popularity, prestige and pleasure, all in abundant measure and all combined, cannot quench the burning thirst in man’s soul that can only be satisfied by God Himself. Solomon tried to satisfy his soul by searching the length and breadth of the land for peace and purpose. Like a man looking behind every tree, under every rock, in every bottle, in every dance hall, in every movie house, and in every other place of pleasure, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it was missing. Solomon lists the places that he looked: 1.Human wisdom (1:16,17); 2. Pleasure (2:1-3); 3. Alcohol (2:3); 4. Great building projects (2:4); 5. Beautiful gardens and parks (2:4-6); 6. Personal indulgences (2:7); 7. Sex (I Kings 11:3) (700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines); 8. Massive wealth (2:7,8); 9. International reputation (I Kings 10:6,7) (Queen of Sheba); 10. Cattle breeding (2:7); 11. Music (2:8); 12. Literature (I Kings 4:32) (3,000 Proverbs, 1,005 songs); 13. Natural science (I Kings 4:33); 14. Military power (I Kings 4:26); After returning home, Solomon concluded the following about life apart from God: 1. Utterly futile (2:11); 2. Filled with repetition (3:1-8); 3. Permeated with sorrow (4:1); 4. Grievous and frustrating (2:17); 5. Uncertain (9:11,12); 6. Without purpose (4:2,3; 8:15); 7. Incurable (1:15); 8. Unjust (7:15; 9:14); 9. Level of animal existence (3:19) Solomon recommends that: 1. Man find God early in life (11:9, 10; 12:1,2) 2. Man fear God throughout his life (12:3-14)
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