The book of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes is a book of the Bible found in the Old Testament. It is attributed to Solomon (although it doesn’t explicitly say his name) and contains his ideas of what life is like. Although this post may seem all over the place, there is a method to my madness. In this post, I have taken the main ideas I have gained from this book, and noted what chapters and verses I found them in.

Themes in Ecclesiastes

Below are the main themes I’ve come across, as well as where in the book they can be found:

Life is useless

This theme could not be any clearer in this book. The author conveys several times how we all will simply die and be forgotten at the ends of our lives.

1:2-3, 14-15; 2:1-23; 4:4-8; 5:13-17; 6:1-7; 9:5-6; 12:7-8

The world is the same then as it is today

The quote “nothing is new under the sun” comes from this book. Several times it is mentioned how everything has already happened before, and what is happening now will happen again.

1:4-11; 3:15; 5:8-10; 8:9-14

Wisdom can be tested

The idea that wisdom can tested means there are concrete truths. True and false and right and wrong can be understood through knowledge and discernment.

7:23; 8:1; 12:9-10

The meaning of life cannot be determined by humans

Even though there is some understanding we gain from wisdom, there are certain things that are beyond our comprehension. God is greater than us, and has concealed the meaning of our existence.

3:9-11, 16-22; 6:12; 7:24; 8:16-17; 9:1; 11:5

There is a time for everything and that time is governed by God

Just like we don’t know everything about this life, there are many things outside of our control, as well. God is watching over everything and has complete authority.

3:1-11; 6:10-11; 8:6-8

The more you have, the more difficult life is for you

This advice does not just relate to money. He talks several times of the burden of knowledge and wisdom, and says how it will wear on your mind. He warns that one will never be able to satisfy their search for knowledge or money, and the pursuit is useless and leads to pain.

1:16-18; 4:4-6; 5:11-12; 6:8-9; 12:12

Enjoy your life while you can, but have reverence for God

He gives this advice not just to young people, but to people of all ages. In his analysis of life, it is best to enjoy your life, as it is God’s gift to those who please Him. However, you must always remember God in what you do. God is the source of every good thing in life that we are able to enjoy, so it is only right we honor and thank Him for what He gives us.

2:24-26; 3:12-14; 5:3-7, 18-20; 7:15-18, 29; 8:15; 9:4, 7-10; 11:8-12:8, 13-14

Proverbs/advice

In addition to the several larger themes in Ecclesiastes, ‘the Philosopher’ gives shorter pieces of advice. I have listed those here:

  • Two is better than one, as they can help each other— 4:9-12
  • Listen to the king —8:2-8

My favorite verses in Ecclesiastes

Although I genuinely love this entire book of the Bible, there are a few key verses that stand out to me. These verses, when I read them, are ones I find myself repeating out loud. They are just so true and relevant to me that I can’t help but give them a special note.

Ecclesiastes 7:3

This verse is something I have found in my own life. If I am happy and all is going well for me, there is very little growth that happens. I do appreciate those times, but I know that nothing will change in me as long as I have nothing to worry about. Conversely, emotional adversity brings a deeper understanding about myself and surroundings that I don’t get otherwise. I appreciate this verse for it’s truth, but also for its conciseness.

Ecclesiastes 12:10

I love this verse because I’ve found that honestly is the best policy. Although comfort for the sake of it may seem nice, honesty is the only thing that can bring true comfort. If you are told a lie that brings you peace, is that really peace? I appreciate the candor from the author and love the forthright way he gives advice.

Conclusion

I deeply love the book of Ecclesiastes. The author seems like he has seen everything the world has to offer and realized how it all will fade. In my opinion, this book is nihilism done the right way—knowing life is meaningless because God governs everything and our fate is death. However, he says to obey God and do your best, but enjoy it while you are here.

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