by Ken Cayce

Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


Table of Contents




Back to Table of Contents

Ecclesiastes Explained

Go To Ecclesiastes Index

Book of Ecclesiastes Explained

Title: The Hebrew title assigned to the speaker in the book is Qohelet, "One Who Addresses an Assembly," and thus "Preacher," or better, "Teacher." The Greek translation of the word is Ecclesiastes, from which the English title is derived.

Within the history of the church there have been two basic views on the theology of the book. On the one hand, some describe the contents of the book as pessimistic, cynical, skeptical, hedonistic, or agnostic, and picture the author as a man of doubt who has wandered far from God.

Along with Ruth, Song of Solomon, Esther and Lamentations, Ecclesiastes stands with the Old Testaments books of the Megilloth, or "five scrolls". Later rabbis read these books in the synagogue on 5 special occasions during the year, Ecclesiastes being read on Pentecost.

Author - Date: The autobiographical profile of the book's writer unmistakably points to Solomon. Evidence abounds such as:

(1) The titles fit Solomon, "son of David, king in Jerusalem" (1:1), and "king over Israel in Jerusalem" (1:12);

(2) The author's moral odyssey chronicles Solomon's life (1 Kings:2-11); and

(3) The role of one who "taught the people knowledge" and wrote "many proverbs" (12:9), corresponds to his life.

All point to Solomon, the son of David, as the author.

Once Solomon is accepted as the author, the date and occasion become clear. Solomon was writing, probably in his latter years (no later than ca. 931 B.C.), primarily to warn the young people of his kingdom, without omitting others. He warned them to avoid walking through life on the path of human wisdom; he exhorted them to live by the revealed wisdom of God (12:9-14).

Background - Setting: Solomon's reputation for possessing extraordinary wisdom fits the Ecclesiastes profile. David recognized his son's wisdom (1 Kings 2:6, and 9), before God gave Solomon an additional measure. After he received a "wise and discerning heart" from the Lord (1 Kings 3:7-12), Solomon gained renown for being exceedingly wise by rendering insightful decisions (1 Kings 3:16-28), a reputation that attracted "all the kings of the earth" to his courts (1 Kings 4:34), In addition, he composed songs and proverbs (1 Kings 4:32; compare 12:9), activity befitting only the ablest of sages. Solomon's wisdom, like Job's wealth, surpassed the wisdom "of all the sons of the east" (1 Kings 4:30; Job 1:3).

The book is applicable to all who would listen and benefit, not so much from Solomon's experiences, but from the principles he drew as a result. Its aim is to answer some of life's most challenging questions, particularly where they seem contrary to Solomon's expectations. This has led some unwisely to take the view that Ecclesiastes is a book of skepticism. But in spite of amazingly unwise behavior and thinking, Solomon never let go of his faith in God (12:13-14).

Interpretation - Purpose: Within the history of the church there have been two basic views on the theology of the book. On the one hand, some describe the contents of the book as pessimistic, cynical, skeptical, hedonistic, or agnostic, and picture the author as a man of doubt who has wandered far from God. On the other hand, many interpret the book quite positively: the author is a man of faith, a realist, who sees that man simply cannot put the whole of life together. The latter view is favored since the author believes God is good (2:24; 3:13); believes God has a wise plan (3:11, 14; 7:14; 8:17); believes God is just (3:17; 8:11-13); and always exhorts men to fear God (8:12, 13; 12:13, 14).

The author's declaration that "all is vanity" envelops the primary message of the book, (1:2 and 12:8). The word translated "vanity" is used in a least three ways throughout the book. In each case, it looks at the nature of man's activity "under the sun" as:

(1) Fleeting, this has in view the vapor like or transitory nature of life (James 4:14);

(2) Futile or meaningless, which focuses on the cursed condition of the universe and the debilitating effects it has on man's earthly experience; or

(3) Incomprehensible or enigmatic, which gives consideration to life's unanswerable questions.

Solomon draws upon all 3 meanings in Ecclesiastes.

While the context in each case will determine which meaning Solomon is focusing upon, the most recurring meaning of vanity is "incomprehensible or unknowable, referring to the mysteries of God's purposes.

The thought of the book centers in six key ideas. Three of these are negative and revolve around the problems of life:

(1) All is vanity;

(2) Man is limited;

(3) God is hidden.

The other three are positive and give the solution to life's crises:

(4) Fear God and keep His commandments;

(5) Enjoy life;

(6) Use wisdom properly.

All six ideas are scattered throughout the book, but taken together they demonstrate that the purpose of the book is to show men that they should lead godly and joyous lives, though they live in a world of divinely condoned mysteries.

Solomon's conclusion to "fear God and keep His commandments" (12:13-14), is more than the book's summary. It is the only hope of the good life and the only reasonable response of faith and obedience to sovereign God.

He precisely works out all activities under the sun, each in its time according to His perfect plan, but also discloses only as much as His perfect wisdom dictates and holds all men accountable. Those who refuse to take God and His Word seriously are doomed to lives of the severest vanity.

Historical - Theological themes: As is true with most biblical Wisdom literature, little historical narrative occurs in Ecclesiastes, apart from Solomon's own personal pilgrimage. The kingly sage studied life with high expectations but repeatedly bemoaned its shortcomings, which he acknowledges were due to the curse (Gen. 3:14-19). Ecclesiastes represents the painful autobiography of Solomon who, for much of his life, squandered God's blessings on his own personal pleasure rather than God's glory. He wrote to warn subsequent generations not to make the same tragic error, in much the same manner as Paul wrote to the Corinthians (compare 1 Cor. 1:18-31; 2:13-16).

The Hebrew word translated "vanity," "vanities," and "vain life" expresses the futile attempt to be satisfied apart from God. This word is used 38 times expressing the many things hard to understand about life. All earthly goals and ambitions when pursued as ends in themselves produce only emptiness. Paul was probably echoing Solomon's dissatisfaction when he wrote," ... the creation was subjected to futility" (Solomon's "vanity"; Romans 8:19-21). Solomon's experience with the effects of the curse (see Gen. 3:17-19), led him to view life as "chasing after the wind".

Solomon asked, "What advantage does a man have in all his work ... ? (1:3), a question he repeated (in 2:22 and 3:9). The wise king gave over a considerable portion of the book to addressing this dilemma. The impossibility of discovering both the inner workings of God's creation and the personal providence of God in Solomon's life were also deeply troubling to the king, as they were to Job. But the reality of judgment for all, despite many unknowns, emerged as the great certainly. In light of this judgment by God, the only fulfilled life is one lived in proper recognition of God and service to Him. Any other kind of life is frustrating and pointless.

A proper balance of the prominent "enjoy life" theme with that of "divine judgment" tethers the reader to Solomon's God with the sure chord of faith. For a time, Solomon suffered from the imbalance of trying to enjoy life without regard for the fear of Yahweh's judgment holding him on the path of obedience. In the end, he came to grasp the importance of obedience. The tragic results of Solomon's personal experience, coupled with the insight of extraordinary wisdom, make Ecclesiastes a book from which all believers can be warned and grow in their faith (compare 2:1-26). This book shows that if one perceives each day of existence, labor and basic provision as a gift from God, and accepts whatever God gives, then that person lives an abundant life (compare John 10:10). However, one who looks to be satisfied apart from God will live with futility regardless of their accumulations.


Back to Table of Contents

Chapter Selection


Back to Table of Contents

Ecclesiastes 1 Ecclesiastes 7
Ecclesiastes 2 Ecclesiastes 8
Ecclesiastes 3 Ecclesiastes 9
Ecclesiastes 4 Ecclesiastes 10
Ecclesiastes 5 Ecclesiastes 11
Ecclesiastes 6 Ecclesiastes 12

Ecclesiastes 1

Ecclesiastes Chapter 1

1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

This verse validates the fact that this is Solomon.

The matters of the book are the crucial issues for Solomon's faith. They resemble the subject matter of (Psalms 39; 49).

Preacher means "one who addresses an assembly" (as 12 verse 9 reflects). The Preacher is the title of one who gathers the assembly together for instruction. He is identified as the son of David, king in Jerusalem, hence Solomon.

The matters of the book are the crucial issues for Solomon's faith. They resemble the subject matter (of Psalms 19; 49).

1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all [is] vanity.

Vanity is the key word of the book and the refrain "all is vanity" its theme. There have been many attempts to translate this word: "futility," "meaninglessness," "emptiness," "breath", nothingness," "absurdity," and so on. The word means "that which is futile or worthless, of no value or profit."

"Vanity", in the above Scripture, means emptiness, or something transitory. In other words, it is like sighing, because there is nothing to hope for. It speaks of hopelessness. Vanity seems to be the keynote for this entire book. Solomon is looking back, and believes that his life has been in vain.

As Solomon observed life, he saw little that exhibited profit and accomplishment. The word all in the expression all is vanity must not be taken to mean everything in the universe for these reasons.

1. The author's observations are clearly limited to what is "under the sun" or observable;

2. The negative conclusions always grow out of observable phenomena as the expressions "I saw," "I have seen," "again I saw," and so on, exhibit;

3. "Vanity" is never predicated of God, God's work, God's revelation, or man as man;

4. Specific realities are commended by Solomon in such a way as not to be considered vanity or the fear of God, enjoyment of life, and proper use of wisdom.

"Vanity of Vanities": This is Solomon's way of saying "the greatest vanity".

1:3 What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?

The implied answer to this rhetorical question is that there is no profit for man in his work. This supports the idea that "vanity" refers to a lack of profit, value, or worth. Under the sun is used 29 times in this book and denotes the sphere of Solomon's observations.

"Under the sun" is an expression he uses often. It has to do with things of this earth. The phrase appears to describe daily life.

This is such a strange statement for a man with all the advantages that Solomon had. Of earthly Old Testament people, Solomon was the wisest man that ever lived. God showered him with great wealth and fame, because he asked for neither. The statement he makes here, is appropriate for mankind as a whole.

It seems we work our life away and at the end of the road, when we look back over our life, many of us think; what was this all about? Many people wonder what they have accomplished toward helping society.

"Profit": Advantage to or gain from one's labor. This is a very important and repeated word for Solomon. Solomon looks at the fleeting moments of life and the seemingly small gain for man's activity under the sun.

The only lasting efforts are those designed to accomplish God's purposes for eternity. "Labor" is not just one's livelihood, but all of man's activity in life.

1:4 [One] generation passeth away, and [another] generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

(In verses 4-11), the ceaseless cycles of nature illustrate the futility of life. The amazing thing is that the earth goes on, but man, the height of God's creation, passes into eternity with no remembrance.

Solomon's observations are very true about the generations passing. It was not, however, the intention of God for man to die. Man brought death of his body, when sin entered the picture in the Garden of Eden. The spirit of man can live on in the new man in heaven.

On this earth, the life span of a person is just under 100 years, and then the children take over. The earth has lasted a very long time, and would have been the permanent dwelling place of Adam and Eve had they not sinned.

We know that Moses wandered with the children of Israel 40 years, until that generation, who disobeyed God, died off. The next generation went into the Promised Land.

The essence of this comparison is permanence/impermanence without "profit" or "advantage." The observer perceives life as an endless cycle of activity which by itself, does not bring security or meaning to man's experience.

1:5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

This just speaks of the continuation of day and night upon the earth. One day follows another, on and on, but they are each separated by a period of night. The sameness is interrupted by the opposite sameness. It seems endless to Solomon.

1:6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

This speaks of the movement of the wind, which seems to be in a never ending cycle. This truly speaks of our orderly God, but Solomon sees futility in even the change of the wind.

1:7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea [is] not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

Solomon can see no results from the endless running of the rivers into the sea. The truth is that the water is drawn by the sun, and replenishes the earth with rain. If he is speaking of the Dead Sea, which is actually the lowest point on the earth, it seems to absorb the flow off and turns into solids. I believe he really is saying, that water somehow goes back to its origination point and starts again. To Solomon, it seems like an endless cycle.

Verses 8-11 are a summary of sorts. Solomon looks at the effect of repetitious, enduring activity in God's creation over many generations as compared to the brief, comparatively profitless activity of one man which fails to produce an enduring satisfaction, and he concluded that it is wearisome. Another harsh reality comes with the realization that nothing is new and nothing will be remembered.

1:8 All things [are] full of labor; man cannot utter [it]: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

There is no way for man to speak every word. Even the fact of man's education to be able to speak properly, is work. The more one speaks, the more he is aware there is more to learn, to speak better.

The eye never tires of looking. No one with sight decides they would rather be blind. The same is true with hearing. No one who can hear chooses to be deaf, because they are tired of hearing.

These are continuous things in our lives, until the day we shed this body of flesh. It seems the more we see, the more we want to see.

1:9 The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun.

Solomon says it is like treading water. We are getting nowhere fast. Solomon sees life as a never-ending circle of events. It seems in all of this, that Solomon would like to improve the situation around him.

He finds he is not able to do that, and it leaves him with a feeling of futility. He believes that each generation faces the very same problems of life that the generation before them did. It is as if all that he does is in vain.

1:10 Is there [any] thing whereof it may be said, See, this [is] new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

This certainly did seem to be the case for thousands of years. Even in our time, some things are the same. Our people have gotten so far away from God, He is almost sorry He created them.

Luke 17:26 "And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man."

Our generation has seen more real change, however, than any generation in history. For thousands of years men rode horses to get to their destination. Just in the last 100 or so years, the automobile and airplane have become a more useful way to get from point to point.

The computer age that we are in now, is another break-through with knowledge. This is a fulfillment of that very thing.

Daniel 12:4 "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."

1:11 [There is] no remembrance of former [things]; neither shall there be [any] remembrance of [things] that are to come with [those] that shall come after.

"No remembrance" means a written record or some other object which serves as a reminder of these events, people and things will be short lived.

This really is saying that one generation seems not to learn from the mistakes of the generation before them. They come along and get involved in the very same sins their fathers did. One really good reason for this is we do not study our Bible enough, and learn what they did wrong.

(From chapter 1:12 to chapter 6:9): This section records Solomon's ill-advised quest for greater wisdom.

1:12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.

(In verses 12-18), we find that Solomon had, as no other figure in history, the time and means to undertake such a study. Vexation of spirit (verse 14), occurs seven times in the book and contains the idea of fruitlessness or futility. Even Solomon's wisdom (verse 8), did not suffice to solve life's ultimate questions. This is the first of several passages in the book that emphasize wisdom's limitations, whereas Proverbs emphasizes wisdom's benefits.

This is speaking of the 40 years that Solomon reigned as king. This probably is spoken toward the end of Solomon's reign as though he is looking back over his reign as king, as if he failed as king.

1:13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all [things] that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

When God offered Solomon a gift, Solomon asked for wisdom to lead his people. God granted that wish.

1 Kings 3:12 "Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee."

The following is one of Solomon's comments.

Proverbs 2:2 "So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;"

Solomon sought the secret of life through earthly wisdom. The secret of life is found in Jesus Christ. He is Life.

"Wisdom": Solomon's use of the term, in typical Hebrew fashion, is more practical than philosophical and implies more than knowledge. It carries notions of ability for proper behavior, success, common sense and wit.

"This sore travail" means man's search to understand is at times difficult, yet God given.

"God" the covenant name. Lord, is never used in Ecclesiastes, However God is found almost 40 times. The emphasis is more on God's sovereignty in creation and providence that His covenant relationship through redemption.

1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.

One aspect of life's vanity is its fleeting character. Like the wind, much of what is desirable in life cannot be held in one's hand.

1 Kings 4:30-32 "And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt." "For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about." "And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five."

Solomon soon forgot that he built the temple in Jerusalem. It seems that even that had not given him fulfillment for his life. It is as if he is saying my life of work was in vain.

1:15 [That which is] crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

This is speaking of the events in a person's life. It is as if we have no control of our destiny. This is definitely a cause for a person to seek Jesus Christ as his Savior. It is saying that all his efforts to save himself are in vain.

With no necessarily moral implications being made, these words measure wisdom as the ability to resolve issue in life. In spite of man's grandest efforts, some crooked matters will remain un-straightened.

1:16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all [they] that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

Solomon's wisdom was a gift from God. The same is true with all of us. Knowledge is accumulated learning, but wisdom is a gift from God. We see from the following Scriptures, that Solomon's wisdom and knowledge was given to him by God, and that it far excelled every other person on the earth.

1 Kings 3:12-13 "Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee." "And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days."

He was appreciative of all of this, but still, this did not fill that need that each of us has, until we are in fellowship with Jesus.

1:17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

All of the wisdom in the world cannot bring peace, unless the person, who has it, uses it to come to Christ as his Savior.

When Solomon depended on empirical research rather than divine revelation to understand life, he found it to be an empty experience.

On his search for bringing peace to his world, Solomon married many women. This was folly. It did not bring peace. It brought false gods of these women. His quest for peace, at any cost, brought the worship of false gods into his land. All such attempts, aside from God, fail. Only Jesus (King of Peace), can bring the peace Solomon searched for.

1:18 For in much wisdom [is] much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

The expected outcome of wisdom is success. Success, in turn, should bring happiness. But Solomon concluded that there were no guarantees. This grieves the one who places his hope in human achievement alone.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20 "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise." "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." "And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain."

The more we understand about the society we live in, the more troubling it is. This is certainly the case with Solomon, as well. In that sense, the more we know, the more we grieve. Isn't this especially true today?

Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 Questions

1. Who penned Ecclesiastes?

2. What does "Ecclesiastes" mean?

3. What does the penman express, over and over, in this book?

4. Who was the penman's father?

5. Where was he king?

6. What does verse 1 validate?

7. What does "vanity", in theses Scriptures, mean?

8. What is vanity like in these Scriptures.

9. What does Solomon look back and believe about his life?

10. What were some of the advantages that Solomon had?

11. The statement Solomon makes, in verse 3, is appropriate for _________ as a whole.

12. What is an expression Solomon uses so often in this book?

13. Man brought death of his body when?

14. The life span of man on this earth is just under _______ years.

15. Why did Moses wander 40 years in the wilderness?

16. What is verse 5 saying?

17. What does the wind, in verse 6, speak of?

18. All the rivers run into the ________.

19. What is the lowest point of the earth.

20. The eye is not satisfied with ____________.

21. Solomon sees life, as a never ending __________ of events.

22. Why do we not learn from the mistakes of those other Bible characters?

23. How many years did Solomon reign?

24. When God offered Solomon a gift, what did Solomon ask for?

25. Whose wisdom did Solomon's wisdom excel?

26. How many proverbs did Solomon speak?

27. How many songs did he write?

28. Solomon's ____________ was a gift from God?

29. What is knowledge?

30. What did God give Solomon, besides wisdom?

31. Who can bring the peace that Solomon sought for?

32. The wisdom of this world is _____________ with God.

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 2

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2

As we begin (chapter 2 verses 1-11), we find that Solomon pursued fulfillment through pleasure (verse 1-2), wine (verse 3), great works (verses 4-6), wealth (verses 7-8), aesthetic and artistic pleasures (verse 8), and fame (verse 9). Yet all of these failed to bring a lasting satisfaction to the wisest man of all time. And yet, people 3000 years later are still trying them in search of enduring fulfillment.

Pleasure, although not necessarily evil, has its shortcomings, much like human wisdom. Solomon reflected upon his tragic experiences in attempting to draw satisfaction purely out of pleasure.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also [is] vanity.

We see that Solomon was so dissatisfied with life the way he had experienced it, that he decides to try pleasure of the flesh. He is like so many who look for peace in all the wrong places. He has plenty of money and fame, but that does not satisfy the hungry soul.

I have heard so many people say, they thought great riches would make them happy. When they acquired the great riches, they were still unhappy. Some of them searched for fame, thinking that would satisfy them.

True satisfaction comes from a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else in life can fill that void. In verse one, Solomon finds that fleshly happiness does not bring satisfaction either.

The investigation or test was crucial for Solomon. But the test was not scientific; rather it was a practical experiment to see what worked. He was interested in what a given act accomplished.

Ecclesiastes 2:2 I said of laughter, [It is] mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?

This speaks of laughing on the surface, but your heart is crying. Laughter is but for a moment.

Proverbs 14:13 "Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth [is] heaviness."

Ecclesiastes 2:3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what [was] that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

Many people in our society today, drink alcohol and take drugs to hide from the realities of life. They feel that for a moment, the deadening will help them to forget their sorrows. It really does not work. When the effects are gone, they are even more depressed than when they began. This is what Solomon discovered here, as well.

In further tests on the human level, Solomon overemphasized human gratification at the expense of God's glory.

Ecclesiastes 2:4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:

The accumulations of fine houses and vineyards will not help. "Things" do not bring that peace, Solomon is looking for. Peace and satisfaction is not brought by outward influences. This comes from the heart of man.

(See 1 Kings 4-10), for an amplified account of Solomon's riches.

Ecclesiastes 2:5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all [kind of] fruits:

Solomon loved beautiful gardens. The garden he had on the outskirts of Jerusalem was well known. Even the beautiful gardens he loved did not bring the satisfaction he was looking for.

Ecclesiastes 2:6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:

Many people find it very soothing to live on the banks of a lake. This was the thoughts of Solomon, as well. Again, this does not cause him to be satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 2:7 I got [me] servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:

We know that even the queen of Sheba was impressed by the finery of the king's court. She had many servants herself, but nothing to compare with Solomon's.

I Kings 9:20-21 "[And] all the people [that were] left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which [were] not of the children of Israel," "Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day."

We can see from the following Scripture, an example of the number of animals he had.

2 Kings 3:4 "And Mesha king of Moab was a sheepmaster, and rendered unto the king of Israel an hundred thousand lambs, and an hundred thousand rams, with the wool."

Ecclesiastes 2:8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, [as] musical instruments, and that of all sorts.

Solomon, besides being the wisest man, was also the richest man. The following Scripture is an example of the wealth he acquired in one year.

1 Kings 10:14 "Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold" (666).

We see in the following Scripture, that Solomon had whatever he wanted. He had many singers and those who played instruments.

1 Chronicles 25:6: "All these [were] under the hands of their father for song [in] the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman."

Musical instruments: This Hebrew word occurs only here in the Old Testament. The meaning is indicated in an early Egyptian letter that used a similar Canaanite word for "concubines." This fits Solomon's 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3).

Ecclesiastes 2:9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.

Solomon's wealth, fame, and wisdom were known throughout the lands around them.

I Kings 10:23 "So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom."

Ecclesiastes 2:10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my portion of all my labor.

"Reward": Solomon's portion in life. This was what he received for all his activity and effort.

We see in this, a fulfillment of every earthly desire that any person could imagine was Solomon's. Everything Solomon put his hand to prospered. Attaining worldly fame and fortune cannot bring true happiness. The search for fulfillment in life always ends with searching for the Lord and everlasting life. All the other things do not satisfy.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit, and [there was] no profit under the sun.

All of this is nothing. It does not satisfy the soul. All the things, mentioned in this chapter, are no comparison at all, to the satisfaction knowing Jesus brings.

Proverbs 15:16 "Better [is] little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith."

1 John 2:16-17 "For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."

"No profit": "Vanity" is defined in this context. The futility of the labor process is that Solomon had nothing of enduring and satisfying substance to show for it. Wisdom is no guarantee that one will achieve satisfaction, even in accomplishments comparable to Solomon's. To expend God given resources for human accomplishment alone is empty.

(In verses 12-16), we are shown that wisdom is better than folly, but both are useless when one comes to death. Human wisdom suffers another crucial shortcoming, it leaves both the wise and the fool empty handed at the threshold of death.

Ecclesiastes 2:12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what [can] the man [do] that cometh after the king? [even] that which hath been already done.

About the highest honor a man can attain on this earth is to be king. Wisdom, in a sense, is no better than folly or madness, if it is worldly wisdom. None of them satisfy his soul. This to me, is saying Solomon does not want to start all over as king. He has done what he could, and going over it again would not help.

Ecclesiastes 2:13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

Proverbs 4:18-19 "But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." "The way of the wicked [is] as darkness: they know not at what they stumble."

Ephesians 5:8 "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:"

Ecclesiastes 2:14 The wise man's eyes [are] in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

The fool is not one who is mentally deficient, but is morally bankrupt. It is not that he cannot learn wisdom, but that he won't. He refuses to know, fear, and obey God.

"Eyes" speak of intelligence. The one event that "happeneth to them all" is death.

John 11:10 "But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him."

1 John 2:11 "But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."

Ecclesiastes 2:15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also [is] vanity.

Solomon knows that just being filled with wisdom will not extend his life. His speculation here, is if this is so, what advantage is it to be wise?

Ecclesiastes 2:16 For [there is] no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now [is] in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise [man]? as the fool.

Solomon is a little negative in this statement. This is not exactly true. Solomon was remembered above his fellows for the wisdom he conveyed to all of us, when he penned some of the wisdom he had into a book. Surely the wise and the foolish do die, when their time God has allotted them to die comes. They have no control over death. God is the Controller.

Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

(In verses 17-20), we see that part of the futility of trying to find fulfillment in material accomplishment is the fact that one must leave the fruit of his work to another who may well waste the accrued benefits.

Ecclesiastes 2:17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun [is] grievous unto me: for all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.

Because the work that is wrought: Since it had no more lasting value that the folly of a fool, Solomon viewed even the great rewards of his labor as a source of pain.

I hated life is translated correctly and should not be misunderstood as "I hate life". It is clearly the temporary conclusion about Solomon's historical experiment.

This is a climax of the other statements he has made. The word "therefore" connects the previous verses. Because death comes to all, I hate life, is what he is saying. He feels no accomplishment, in spite of the fact he has accomplished so much. He feels as if he has failed God.

Ecclesiastes 2:18 Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

After reigning 40 years, Solomon will die, and someone else will take his place.

1 Kings 11:11 "Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant."

Ecclesiastes 2:19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise [man] or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This [is] also vanity.

When a man dies, the work he has wrought with his hands is another's. It is not very pleasant for him to realize that the works of his hands might pass to someone undeserving.

Since he does not know who God will choose to rule after him, he also does not know whether he will be wise, or a fool. All of his wisdom is gone, when he dies. He cannot pass his wisdom on to another. Wisdom is a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 2:20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labor which I took under the sun.

We can see that Solomon was greatly troubled, about what would happen to the things he had built by the wisdom God had given him. He is looking back and wondering what earthly good was all of it.

Ecclesiastes 2:21 For there is a man whose labor [is] in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not labored therein shall he leave it [for] his portion. This also [is] vanity and a great evil.

This speaks of the portion of one's life that he must leave behind at death.

This is Solomon speaking of himself. The person who takes Solomon's place has not worked to build all of this. He receives this, because God is taking it from Solomon.

Psalms 49:10: "For he seeth [that] wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others."

Ecclesiastes 2:22 For what hath man of all his labor, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath labored under the sun?

There is a certain amount of pride that goes along with the finishing of some important project here on the earth. It is a known fact, that none of that follows us after our death.

The only treasures we carry with us, are those we have stored in heaven before our death. Things we do for ourselves, or for earthly fame, will be of no assistance in heaven. Solomon had great wealth and fame on the earth. All of that is left behind.

Ecclesiastes 2:23 For all his days [are] sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.

Solomon has difficulty sleeping, because of his thoughts about the inevitable end that comes to all.

Job 14:1 "Man [that is] born of a woman [is] of few days, and full of trouble."

Jesus explains that this world is full of trouble. Our hope is in Him.

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

In verses 24-26 we find the first of seven passages that give one of the solutions to life's problems: enjoy life and work as God's gifts. When a man toils in his own strength, he is bound to suffer pain and grief. The answer then is for him to enjoy his work by receiving it as a gift of God.

Elsewhere, work is said to be part of God's curse on man (gen. 3 17-19), but it can become the sphere of God's blessing.

To eat and drink, used five times in the book, must be understood in a good sense. Solomon always counsels the fear of God, and the concept is used in the Old Testament in a good sense.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 [There is] nothing better for a man, [than] that he should eat and drink, and [that] he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it [was] from the hand of God.

We find that even the everyday functions of eating and drinking can only take place at the will of God. The prayer that Jesus taught the apostles says, "Give us this day our daily bread". It is by the grace of God, that we have bread to eat.

We should be thankful for whatever God has provided us with. We should be like Paul and be satisfied with what God has given us.

1 Timothy 6:8 "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."

"Nothing is better": Even with the limitations of this present life, humanity should rejoice in its temporal goodness. "From the hand of God": Solomon's strong view of God's sovereignty brings comfort after an honest critique of what life in a cursed world entails.

Ecclesiastes 2:25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten [hereunto], more than I?

Possibly, Solomon had the most to be thankful for.

Ecclesiastes 2:26 For [God] giveth to a man that [is] good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to [him that is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.

God had thought very highly of Solomon. He had loved him so much, that He gave him wisdom above all his fellowmen. He gave him great wealth and tremendous fame. But Solomon did not stay faithful to God. The temptations of life were more than he could handle, and he sinned.

God will abundantly bless those who are in the will of God. The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the righteous. God does not overlook the slightest thing you do to please Him. God is the Rewarder of those who follow Him.

"Give to him that is good". The qualifier "in His sight" makes God's prerogative the standard.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2 Questions

1. What caused Solomon to try pleasure for satisfaction?

2. Where else had Solomon looked for satisfaction?

3. Where does true satisfaction come from?

4. What is verse 2 speaking of?

5. What does the author believe the problem is in our society today with drugs and alcohol?

6. Solomon built what, that did not satisfy him.

7. Where is true peace from?

8. Where did Solomon get this huge number of servants?

9. What queen was overwhelmed by Solomon's finery?

10. He had _____ and _______ singers.

11. What were some of the musical instruments Solomon had?

12. Attaining worldly fame and wealth cannot bring __________.

13. What do wisdom, folly, and madness have in common?

14. How much does wisdom excel folly?

15. The wise man's eyes are in his _________.

16. He that hateth his brother is in ____________.

17. What does Solomon say, in verse 16, that is not absolutely the way it is?

18. Why did he hate life?

19. Why did he hate his work?

20. How many years did Solomon reign?

21. Why will God rend the kingdom away from Solomon?

22. Who is verse 21 speaking of?

23. What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own _______?

24. God is a __________ of those who follow Him.

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 3

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3

Verses 1-8: These verses speak of an appointed time. Not only does God fix the standard and withhold or dispense satisfaction (2:26), but He also appoints "times". Earthly pursuits are good in their proper place and time, but unprofitable when pursued as the chief goal.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"

This is saying that God arranges even the smallest details of our surroundings. (Verse 1), is speaking of all the things collectively, that he will detail in the next few verses. God's timetable for this earth is perfect. Certain events are ordained from the foundation of the earth.

A very good example of this very thing is the fact that Abraham (the father of the faithful), was born 1948 years after Adam.

Then Israel became a nation in 1948 our time. Another time I believe to be very significant, is the approximate 6000 years of work for the people of the earth, then God will set up a thousand year day of Sabbath of rest. We are nearing the end of the six 1000-year days of work.

Jesus will come back to the earth as King and reign in perfect peace for six 1000-year day of rest. Things, like when we are born and when we die, are foreordained of God. The thing that is not already destined to be, is what we do with Jesus. We, of our own free will, accept Him or reject Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:2 "A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted;"

We see that we have no control of the day we are born. We have no control of who we are born to. We have no control over our gender. We have no control over the way we look, when we are born. All of these things are destined of God. I could go on and on.

We have no control over whether we are born into a wealthy family, or a poverty stricken family. All of these things are determined of God. We do not have control of the time of our death either.

Job 7:1 "[Is there] not an appointed time to man upon earth? [are not] his days also like the days of a hireling?"

Isaac is a very good example of God having a precise time for us to be born.

Genesis 21:2 "For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him."

Death is the same. God has set a time for each person's death.

Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

The following Scripture tells us the very best, what our life is.

James 4:14 "Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

After a hard winter and spring just appears, we all get the urge to make ready the field, and plant something. We watch it grow, till it matures, and then, it is time to pluck it up. Jesus spoke of planting and harvesting. As long as the earth exists, there will be a time of planting, and a time of harvest.

In the spiritual sense, the time of the end is the time of harvest.

Ecclesiastes 3:3 "A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;"

The 6th commandment says, "Thou shalt not kill". Then how, can this Scripture say a time to kill? Thou shalt not kill, means thou shalt not commit premeditated murder. It does not mean that you are not to go to war to protect your family, or your country. A very good example of a time to kill is shown by God killing the firstborn in Egypt.

Exodus 12:12 "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I [am] the LORD."

Another instance when it was a time to kill, is when David killed Goliath. You see, there is a time to kill, but it must be a time that God has chosen for us to kill, not a time when we kill for selfish reasons. It is nearly always the time to heal. Most of Jesus' ministry here on the earth involved healing. Everyone who had faith enough to receive his healing was healed by Him.

1 Peter 2:24 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."

Our healing is spoken of as if it is already done in this Scripture. For us to be healed, we must apply this promise to our problem and believe. We must act upon the promise that Jesus has willed us.

John 14:12-14 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it]."

Why did God not allow David to build His temple?

We read in 1 Kings 5:3 "Thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the LORD his God for the wars which were about him on every side, until the LORD put them under the soles of his feet."

The very next verse tells when it was the right time for Solomon to build it.

1 Kings 5:4-5 "But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, [so that there is] neither adversary nor evil occurrent." "And, behold, I purpose to build a house unto the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build a house unto my name."

Sometimes things have to be torn down to the foundation, before they can build on the spot.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;"

The shortest sentence in the Bible is in John 11:35 "Jesus wept."

Jesus is our example in everything, so we know there are times for us to weep. When we lose a loved one, it is a natural thing to weep. You have heard the expression (laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone). This is very true.

Psalms 126:2 "Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them."

A story of contrast of mourning and a time to dance quickly reminds us of David, when he danced before the Ark of the Covenant.

2 Samuel 6:14-15 "And David danced before the LORD with all [his] might; and David [was] girded with a linen ephod." "So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet."

David's mourning came at the loss of his firstborn child. David committed adultery with Bath-sheba, and then he had her husband killed in battle, so he might marry her. In punishment, God took their first child.

2 Samuel 12:14 "Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also [that is] born unto thee shall surely die."

Ecclesiastes 3:5 "A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;"

A very good example of a time to cast away stones is when you are clearing a field for cultivation. The time to gather stones is when you are building a stone house. Embracing is a way of showing passion, or affection.

When two friends meet, it is alright to embrace in greeting. The negative side of this would be under the classification of passion. It is not, however, a very nice thing for a man and a woman to passionately embrace in public.

Ecclesiastes 3:6 "A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;"

Material things have been put on the earth for the use of mankind. One of the most vivid Scriptures about getting and losing is in Mark 10:29-30

"And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's," "But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life."

We see from this, if we give up our family to work for God, we will get blessings abundant in this life, and will inherit eternal life. The story of Job tells of a man who had received great wealth and blessings from God. Satan caused Job to lose them. God gave twice as many blessings back to Job, when he proved faithful.

There are a number of things we are admonished to keep. The most important of all, is keep the faith. We should cast our cares upon Jesus. We must cast off our sins and idols of this world.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 "A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;"

Rending of clothing is a sign of great mourning. The rending of the veil from the top to the bottom at the crucifixion of Jesus opened the way to the Father for all believers.

Matthew 27:51 "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;"

The sewing of this very curtain had been ordained of God. This curtain was sown with thread of beaten gold. No man could have rent it. It had to be Almighty God.

The following Scriptures tell of times to be silent.

Habakkuk 2:20 "But the LORD [is] in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him."

We see in the following Scriptures, that there is a time to speak also.

Luke 19:40 "And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."

Luke 19:37 "And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;"

The most important time of all to speak, is in the following Scriptures.

Romans 10:9-10 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Ecclesiastes 3:8 "A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

Hate is a word I do not like, but God says there is a time to hate. Look, with me, at the following Scripture.

Revelation 2:6 "But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."

Notice, He did not hate the Nicolaitans, He hated their deeds. We are to hate the sin, and love the sinner. God wants us to love everyone, even our enemies, as we read in the next verses.

Matthew 5:43-44 "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy." "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;"

Jesus gave us two commandments that cover all. They both have to do with love.

Matthew 22:37-39 "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." "This is the first and great commandment." "And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

Love is the greatest positive emotion we can have. God is Love.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

The condition of the world is, and has been, the fact of wars and rumors of wars. This will not change, until Jesus (the King of Peace), comes and sets up His thousand year reign of peace upon the earth. God is not against war, when it is preserving the right.

One of the most interesting examples of God blessing in war is found (in chapter 17 of Exodus). Joshua fought while Moses lifted his arms in praise to God. Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses, until the battle was over and Joshua defeated Amalek.

Exodus 17:12-13 "But Moses' hands [were] heavy; and they took a stone, and put [it] under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun." "And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword."

There is a day of peace coming when Jesus reigns.

We read in Micah 4:3 "And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Questions

1. To everything there is a ________.

2. What is a very good example of something in time, that God ordained?

3. When will Jesus come back and set up His 1000 year day reign?

4. What is not already decided for us?

5. What are some things we have no control over pertaining to our birth?

6. Who is a good example of someone being born at a precise time?

7. What is our life?

8. As long as the earth exists, there will be a time of _________ and ___________.

9. When is the time of harvesting, in the spiritual sense?

10. What is the 6th commandment?

11. What does that really mean?

12. What is a good example, in the Bible, of a time to kill?

13. When is it time to heal?

14. Who can heal?

15. How can you do it?

16. What is the shortest verse in the Bible?

17. When is a good time to laugh?

18. Why did David's firstborn son with Bathsheba die?

19. When do you cast away stones?

20. When do you gather stones?

21. When is it alright to embrace?

22. When would it be wrong to embrace?

23. What was rending of clothing a sign of?

24. What was the curtain in the temple sewn with?

25. The LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep _________ before Him.

26. What Scripture describes the most important time to speak?

27. Love the sinner, and hate the _______.

28. Who are all Christians to love?

29. When is God not against war?

30. What is a good example of God blessing in war?

31. They shall beat their swords into ____________.

32. Neither shall they learn _______ anymore.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Continued

Ecclesiastes 3:9 "What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth?"

In the last lesson, we were discussing the fact that there is a time for everything. It is as if Solomon feels that man has no control over his own destiny. Man must take opportunity, as God provides it.

Earthly pursuits are unprofitable when considered as life's chief good, which was never intended by God.

Ecclesiastes 3:10 "I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it."

Solomon is wise, because God has given him the gift of wisdom. He does not, however, have enough wisdom to determine everything about God. "Travail", in this particular instance, is speaking of the work that man must do under the circumstances God has planned.

Man does not control the circumstances. He does, however, control his own attitude toward those circumstances. Many times, success or failure is because of the attitude, not the circumstances.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 "He hath made every [thing] beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."

"Every thing": Every activity or event for which a culmination point may be fixed.

"Beautiful": This phrase echoes "God saw ... it was good (Gen. 1:31). Even in a cursed universe, activity should not be meaningless. Its futility lies in the fickle satisfaction of man and his failure to trust the wisdom of sovereign God.

Genesis 1:31 "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."

"Set the world in their heart": God made men for His eternal purpose, and nothing in post fall time can bring them complete satisfaction.

God made everything good and beautiful; it was man's sin that caused it to become ugly and bad. Mankind is so attached to the world that he lives on, that it is in fact, in his heart. We are mortal, and cannot understand the entire plan of God.

Since our lives on this earth are, so temporary, it is even difficult for us to understand eternity. God is the author and the finisher. He is the Beginning and the End.

Ecclesiastes 3:12 "I know that [there is] no good in them, but for [a man] to rejoice, and to do good in his life."

It appears, Solomon has determined that there is no good in man himself. His goodness is of God. He decides that the thing for man to do, is do the very best he can under the circumstances. It does bring joy, when you know you have done good.

These words capture the goal of Solomon's message which he echoes and elaborates on (in 11:9-10 and again in 12:13-14).

Ecclesiastes 3:13 "And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it [is] the gift of God."

I personally believe that part of the joy in life comes from realizing you have worked, and done your best. It is a good feeling to work all day, and then, come home and eat food you have provided for yourself.

Psalms 128:2 "For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy [shalt] thou [be], and [it shall be] well with thee."

1 Timothy 2:2 "For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."

1 Timothy 6:8 "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."

I believe God gave man a job to do, to help man. In accepting everything as a gift of his Creator, even in a cursed world, man is enabled to see "good" in all his work.

Ecclesiastes 3:14 "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth [it], that [men] should fear before him."

God created all things. Whatever we do, or whatever we are, is because God allowed it. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He never changes. God has set restraints upon the earth. The things that happen are by His permission.

Our lives are at peace, when we realize that God has a plan for our lives, and we submit to that plan. Acknowledging God's enduring and perfect work becomes grounds for reverence, worship and meaning. Apart from God, man's works are pitifully inadequate. The theme, "fear God"(also appears in 5:7; 8:12-13; and 12:13).

Psalms 119:90-91 "Thy faithfulness [is] unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth." "They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all [are] thy servants."

God is absolute. We cannot change Him, or His wishes.

Ecclesiastes 3:15 "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past."

The sad thing is that each generation fails to learn from the past, and seems to have to make the very same mistakes. The sins Adam and Eve committed are still being committed today. Even at the end, the Bible says it will be as it was in the days of Noah.

Luke 17:26-30 "And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." "They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all." "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;" "But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all." "Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed."

Ecclesiastes 3:16 "And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, [that] wickedness [was] there; and the place of righteousness, [that] iniquity [was] there."

The place of judgment, here, is speaking of the place of those in authority. This is saying, that the judgment of these world authorities is wicked. The place of righteousness could be speaking of the church. It is such a shame that even there, iniquity is found.

3:17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for [there is] a time there for every purpose and for every work.

Solomon is sure of God's justice in spite of the lack of it to the observer.

The righteous are those in right standing with God. Their judgment will be for rewards. This time of judging, both the righteous and the wicked, is speaking of that time when the sheep are separated from the goats. The goats are sent to the everlasting fire. The righteous are sent to heaven.

Matthew 25:31-34 "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:" "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats:" "And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left." "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:"

Matthew 25:41 "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"

The culminating issue of Solomon's "appointed time" discussion is that there is a time for judgment (John 5:28-29). God's judgment is a central theme in Solomon's message for this book. Even where the word "judgment" is absent, the greater issue of divine retribution is often pervasive.

To the casual observer, man and animals share a common destiny. Both return to dust and no one can tell by observation where the spirit of either goes. However, Solomon does affirm (in 12:7), that the spirit of man returns to God for judgment. God does not clearly reveal to man all the events that will occur after him; therefore, man should be happy with the lot assigned to him by God.

3:18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

This does not mean that man is just another animal. It means that man does not control his destiny, any more than if he were a beast. God allows things to take place that man might activate his own will, to do good rather than evil.

The man, who lets his flesh rule his decisions, is very much like an animal. The true difference in man and animal is that man has the power to do good, or evil. Man has a soul, beasts do not.

The ultimate fate of man and beast is to die. Solomon isn't looking at eternal destinies, but rather at what all earthly flesh shares in common.

3:19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all [is] vanity.

Man and beast are the same, in the sense that they both have been given the breath of life by God. All things live and die by permission of God. The difference in man is his soul. He is made in the image of God, and has the power to choose right from wrong.

A man who chooses to live for his flesh is living like an animal.

3:20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

Again, it is the flesh that returns to dust. The spirit within that flesh lives on.

John 3:6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

We see from the following Scripture, that the spirit of man does not remain in the grave.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 "So also [is] the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:" "It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:" " It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

Man differs from animals, in the fact that man has a spirit.

Genesis 3:19 is alluded to in the broadest sense, i.e., all of living creation will die and go to the grave. Neither heaven nor hell is considered here.

3:21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

The beast remains in the grave, and is not raised.

Man's breath or physical life appears on the surface to be little different than that of an animal. In reality, man's soul differs in that God has made him eternal (verse 11).

3:22 Wherefore I perceive that [there is] nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that [is] his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

We must accept by faith that we will live eternally in heaven. It would take no faith to believe in heaven, if we had already been there and back and saw what it looked like. It is as if Solomon is saying we better enjoy the fruit of our labor here, in case we do not make it to heaven.

Matthew 6:34 "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof."

There is no actual proof that we can see with physical eyes that would cause us to believe in heaven. Faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is our ticket to heaven.

One again, death becomes the overshadowing reality.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Continued Questions

1. What is it as if Solomon is saying in verse 9?

2. "Travail", in this particular instance, is speaking of what?

3. Man does not control the circumstances. He does, however, control what?

4. Success or failure is because of the ___________, not the _______________.

5. How did evil enter the earth, if God made everything good?

6. Why can we not understand the entire plan of God?

7. Solomon had determined there is no good in _______.

8. His goodness is of _______.

9. Where does the author believe part of the joy of life comes from?

10. Having food and raiment let us be _________ __________.

11. Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be ____________.

12. Our lives are at peace when we realize what?

13. What is sad about every generation?

14. In the days of Lot, it rained fire and brimstone from _________.

15. What is the place of judgment speaking of?

16. Where is the place of righteousness?

17. Who are the righteous?

18. When do the righteous and wicked stand together for judgment?

19. What happens to His sheep?

20. What happens to the goats?

21. How are man and beast alike?

22. What is the true difference in man and beast?

23. All things live and die by permission ___ ______.

24. The _______ returns to dust.

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 4

Ecclesiastes Chapter 4

Oppressions increase vanity: ( In verses 1-3), the author considers the thought that oppression is so great in the world that the oppressed would actually be better off dead, thus rending death more appealing.

Ecclesiastes 4:1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of [such as were] oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors [there was] power; but they had no comforter.

There is an oppression that comes on good men from the worldly men. There is also, an oppression that Satan tries to harass us all with. The following is an example of oppression from the worldly.

Exodus 1:13-14 "And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor:" "And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, [was] with rigor."

Rigor is defined:

1. Strictness or severity, as in temperament, action, or judgment;

2. A harsh or trying circumstance; hardship;

3. A harsh or cruel act.

Of that oppression which comes from Satan, is a spiritual oppression. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to help the believers overcome that oppression.

John 14:26 "But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

John 16:7: "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."

Ecclesiastes 4:2 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.

The dead have already run their race. They do not have to face the problems of this life. Solomon is speaking of the thoughts of his mind about this world, and the world to come.

Job had a very similar statement to say about this very thing.

Job 3:18 "[There] the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor." We find the blessedness of death for the believer in the following.

Revelation 14:13 "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them."

Ecclesiastes 4:3 Yea, better [is he] than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

(Verses 4-6), tell us that the enviable workaholic (verse 4), nor the lazy fool (verse 5), receives fulfillment in life; working to have enough to get by with is better than either extreme (verse 6).

It appears, that Solomon is looking back over his life and seeing the sorrows and injustices that men do against their fellowmen. He dwells on the sadness of life. He says it is better not to have been born, than see all of this sorrow.

This is generally, the way most people feel, when they are away from God. It seems so futile to live, if there is no heaven.

"Evil work": Earthly life can be so disheartening as to make non-existence preferable.

Even Job asked the question, "Why did I not die from my mother's womb?" There is a great deal of sadness in this life. The joy comes in feeling assured of your salvation. Hope for the believer is in the resurrection to eternal life in Jesus.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit.

This is speaking of a person working hard and becoming a success, and then, his neighbors become envious of his success. Usually the person, who is envious, would not put out the effort it took to be a success.

The very first time this happened, was between the two brothers, Cain and Abel. Cain was jealous, because God accepted Abel's offering, and did not accept his. He became so envious, he killed his brother.

Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, because they envied his relationship with his dad. Even the men of the temple envied Jesus, and had Him destroyed.

Mark 15:10 "For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy."

Solomon says, you have trouble in this life, but the most trouble comes when you are successful, and your friends begin to envy you. The lack of satisfaction with life leads some to conclude that everyone else has it better.

Ecclesiastes 4:5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.

Verse 4 spoke of success causing people to envy you, and eventually caused sadness. Now, Solomon contrasts that with someone who is too lazy to work. He is saying, is this better?

He speaks of the person being destructive to himself (eateth his own flesh).

Even the man who settles into idleness, living on what he takes from others, is self-tormented and never satisfied (Isaiah 9:20 and 44:20).

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better [is] a handful [with] quietness, than both the hands full [with] travail and vexation of spirit.

Solomon is saying, that many times with great wealth and success, goes much unhappiness. Your friends and loved ones' envy and sometimes even despise you, when you are more successful than they are. He has decided it is better to have less, and have your friends.

Proverbs 15:16 "Better [is] little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith."

2 Thessalonians 3:12 "Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."

(Verses 7-12), tells us the toil of the miser is futile, especially when he toils only for himself. On the other hand, two are better than one because they have a good return (verse 9); they can help each other (verse 10); they can provide mutual warmth (verse 11); and they double their strength, or triple it, as in the case of three friends (verse 12).

Ecclesiastes 4:7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.

In our society today, we would say Solomon was experiencing deep depression. He believes that human efforts are all in vain.

Ecclesiastes 4:8 There is one [alone], and [there is] not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet [is there] no end of all his labor; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither [saith he], For whom do I labor, and bereave my soul of good? This [is] also vanity, yea, it [is] a sore travail.

This is speaking of loneliness. This too, is strange coming from Solomon. He is surrounded by wives and concubines, but feeling very alone. He believes to be alone is no good, because you have no family.

This shows the despair of a man who has had wealth, wisdom, fame, and even all the worldly things his heart desired, and still finds no satisfaction. What he is looking for?

Peace comes from God and not in things.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.

The reward he is speaking of here is a sharing. They can share their successes. In fact, they can even console each other in their failures. Two are better than one, if they are of one accord.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him [that is] alone when he falleth; for [he hath] not another to help him up.

The verse above, is not necessarily speaking of a wife, but it could be applied thusly.

Genesis 2:18 "And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him."

The Lord sent ministers out two by two. I believe the following Scripture is why He did this.

Matthew 18:19 "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."

Mark 6:7 "And he called [unto him] the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;"

The number "two" means agreement. This is speaking of one helping the other and them being in agreement.

Ecclesiastes 4:11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm [alone]?

The body puts off a certain amount of heat, and two in a bed together can stay warmer than just one. The robe many of the Israelites wore served as a blanket to sleep under, as well. Two blankets are warmer than one.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

This is speaking of the strength that comes with the bonding of two, or three, together. The following Scripture tells us something of the strength of more than one.

Deuteronomy 32:30 "How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?"

Ecclesiastes 4:13 Better [is] a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

The problem with the king is he has become hardened in his heart, and is not aware of his need to repent. Sad as it is, if he dies in this condition, he would go to hell. The fact that he had been king would not help him at all.

This wise child is still teachable and is wise enough to realize he needs a Savior.

Proverbs 28:6 "Better [is] the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than [he that is] perverse [in his] ways, though he [be] rich."

The cherished popularity of kings is precarious and short lived.

Ecclesiastes 4:14 For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also [he that is] born in his kingdom becometh poor.

The best example of this is when Joseph was in jail in Egypt for something he did not do, and was brought out of prison to reign as second in command.

Ecclesiastes 4:15 I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.

This has so many suggestions. The firstborn was thought to be the one who would reign in his father's stead. This was not so in many instances. Jacob and Esau are a very good example of this. Jacob was the second born, but received the favored son's blessing.

This could, also, apply to Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim was the second son, but received the right hand blessing.

It is a type and shadow of the Jew and the Christian. The natural Jew was God's first choice, but the Christians, second choice, received Jesus more readily.

This scripture refers to the legitimate successor to the "old and foolish king", as opposed to the "poor yet wise lad" (verse 13), who rises on his ability to reign.

Ecclesiastes 4:16 [There is] no end of all the people, [even] of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.

We see in this, the multitude that came to follow the second. In Joseph's case, the Egyptians were dependent on the second in command for food. Joseph's help was soon forgotten after the famine was over. The king who reigned later forgot all the blessings Joseph had brought. They did not remember him.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 Questions

1. Where can oppression on a good man come from?

2. Jesus sent the _________ _________ to the Christians to comfort them.

3. Why did Solomon praise the dead?

4. Blessed are the dead which ______ in the Lord.

5. What does Solomon seem to be doing?

6. How do most people, who are away from God, feel?

7. What question did Job ask, in despair?

8. Hope for the believer is in the _____________ to _______ _____ in Jesus.

9. What happens, many times, when a person is successful?

10. Who were the first examples in the Bible of jealousy?

11. What did the jealousy lead to?

12. What type of person is verse 5 speaking of?

13. With ____________ they work, and eat their own bread.

14. In our society today, we would say Solomon was experiencing _______ _________.

15. Why is it strange to think of Solomon as being lonely?

16. What is he looking for?

17. Where is the only place to find it?

18. Why are two better than one?

19. That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, what will happen?

20. How did Jesus send out the apostles?

21. What is verse 12 speaking of?

22. What is the problem with the king in verse 13?

23. Who is the best example of the one mentioned in verse 14?

24. Name some of the examples, where the second born received the first born blessing.

25. Who are these a type and shadow of?

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 5

Ecclesiastes Chapter 5

We begin reading chapter 5 today. (In the first 7 verses), we are cautioned against making hasty vows to God. Has anyone of us ever done that? Promised God if he would do something for us, we would do something for Him? I'm sure we all have, but here is what the bible tells us about making vows we are not prepared to keep.

These 7 verses give emphasis of the folly of an empty religious profession before a sovereign God: "God is in heaven, and thou upon earth" we'll read (in verse 2). The angel is better translated as "the messenger of God," referring to the priest who served as mediator between God and man in the Old Testament.

This is a prelude to the book's concluding admonition to approach God with reverence.

Ecclesiastes 5:1 "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil."

The house of God is referring to the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem.

Acts 7:33 tells us: "Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground."

Anywhere God is, is holy ground. It matters not whether it is in the temple in Jerusalem, the tabernacles of those days, or our churches today. God is there where true believers meet. The way to "keep our foot" is to walk in the Light.

John 8:12 "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

This path with the Light of Jesus leads us safely to the house of God.

James 1:19 "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:" God is still speaking today, but few are listening. The sacrifice that God wants is our obedience and praise of Him.

Hebrews 13:15 "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name."

1 Samuel 15:22 "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams."

God does not want the formality of keeping His law. He wants us to obey Him, love Him, and praise Him. He wants our hearts.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter [any] thing before God: for God [is] in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."

Because God is in heaven and man is on earth, rash promises and arguments before Him are foolish.

We just read James 1:19 about being quick to listen and slow to speak. Now we continue with James 1:20 "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God."

James 3:2 - "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same [is] a perfect man, [and] able also to bridle the whole body."

The tongue is an evil weapon that destroys. We must let the Spirit of God bridle our tongues.

Matthew 12:36 "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."

And we must also be careful not to pray amiss.

James 4:3 "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts."

Ecclesiastes 5:3 "For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice [is known] by multitude of words."

Dreams happen for a number of reasons. One thing that causes us to dream is when we have eaten something that does not agree with us. Another reason we dream, is an attack from Satan. We, sometimes, work very hard and our mind cannot slow down when we sleep.

This is what is spoken of in the verse above. We do have dreams from God many times, as well. These dreams can be telling us of something that will happen, or they may guide us in some manner.

We must learn to tell where our dreams are from. In the last part, of the verse above, we see that too much talking can cause us to sin.

Proverbs 10:19 "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips [is] wise." In other words, listen carefully and speak rarely!!

Matthew 6:7 "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

Ecclesiastes 5:4 "When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for [he hath] no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed."

Promises made to God have serious implications. The Old Testament background for this admonition is found (in Deut. 23:21-23 and Judges 11:35). As you see below, Ananias and Sapphira learned this the hard way.

Anyone remember who had promised something to God, then didn't do what they had say?

Remember a man and his wife? Ananias and Sapphira found out how dangerous it was to vow a vow to God, and not keep it. God killed them both.

Acts 5:3-5 "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back [part] of the price of the land?" "Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." "And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things."

Sapphira is shown separately, to show her own sin killed her, not her husband's.

Acts 5:10 "Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying [her] forth, buried [her] by her husband."

It is a dangerous thing to vow a vow to God and, not keep it.

Ecclesiastes 5:5 "Better [is it] that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."

Jesus explains it very well in the following Scriptures.

Matthew 5:34-37 "But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:" "Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King." "Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black." "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

Ecclesiastes 5:6 "Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it [was] an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?"

Don't vow something that your fleshly desire will cause you to break.

It's been mentioned several times before, that the flesh, or the spirit, rules the will of a person. When the flesh rules, we are not pleasing to God. The mouth speaks of the abundance of the heart. If our heart is controlled by the flesh, it is wicked, and evil things come out of our mouth. On the other hand, if our hearts are controlled by the spirit, then we say good things.

Luke 6:45 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."

Ecclesiastes 5:7 "For in the multitude of dreams and many words [there are] also [divers] vanities: but fear thou God."

Earlier, we spoke about how dreams come from various places. You must not base your belief on just dreams. The dreams could be from a source other than God. The dreams that are safe to believe, are those that line up with the Word of God. We find that people who believe in just dreams are really not grounded well in the Word of God.

The man who is rash with his vows will live to regret them. Prayers prayed amiss, are also a downfall. Put your faith in God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 5:8 "If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for [he that is] higher than the highest regardeth; and [there be] higher than they."

Officials have an unfair advantage to attain wealth.

The person, who has been placed as judge of others, must remember there is a judge of all the earth that he will have to stand before himself. With whatever judgment he judges, he will be judged.

"Marvel", in this Scripture above, is speaking of being amazed or wondering.

Colossians 4:1 "Masters, give unto [your] servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."

Ecclesiastes 5:9 "Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king [himself] is served by the field."

One need not be surprised at oppression on every rung of the governmental ladder. However, man may take comfort in the knowledge that kings too, are subject to a higher power.

God made the earth and everything in it, for the use of man. It all belongs to God. We are allowed the use of parts of it at the times God chooses to allow us. The king may get a little more of the benefit from the earth (in a material way), than the common man, but it all belongs to God. The king is no different than the common man, except God made him king.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this [is] also vanity."

This speaks of someone who has made silver or wealth his god. When a person does this, he is never satisfied he has enough.

It is not wealth itself, but the drive for wealth that does not satisfy. The rich also have their own set of woes: wealth attracts dependents (seen in verse 11), and causes restlessness (seen in verse 12).

1 Timothy 6:10 "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Ecclesiastes 5:11 "When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good [is there] to the owners thereof, saving the beholding [of them] with their eyes?"

Solomon is expressing the fact that wealth has many hidden problems. This is saying, if you suddenly come into a great deal of money, you will have relatives and friends, whose names you cannot remember, come to share in your good fortune.

Increase in your wealth is an open door for others to ask for loans and financial assistance of all kinds. The only real gain the person has is in the knowledge the wealth is there. It can be very fleeting. Wealth does not improve your taste for food. It does not help you sleep better. It, possibly, might cause you to sleep less. It is questionable whether it is a blessing, or a curse.

Earthly treasures are precarious and bring disadvantages; they produce anxiety (verse 12), and pain (verse 13). They disappear through bad business (verse 14), and are left at death (verse 15). They can even produce fear (verse 17).

Ecclesiastes 5:12 "The sleep of a laboring man [is] sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep."

The laborer comes in tired from the physical work he has done. He does not have enough money, or someone is constantly trying to cheat him out of it. He lays his head on the pillow and sleeps.

The rich possibly, are not physically tired, because they have not worked. Their minds will not calm down long enough to cause them to sleep. They must be constantly on guard, so as not to lose their money.

Proverbs 3:24 "When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet."

Ecclesiastes 5:13 "There is a sore evil [which] I have seen under the sun, [namely], riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt."

Wealth is easily lost and is therefore an unsure foundation for life. What this scripture is saying is those who hoard their money and possessions, refusing to share with others, will lead a very unhappy and miserable life. But wait, it gets even worse, they die and then the worst happens to them.

1 Timothy 6:17 "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;"

1 Timothy 6:18-19 "That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;" "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."

Mark 10:25 "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

Ecclesiastes 5:14 "But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and [there is] nothing in his hand."

Riches are here today and gone tomorrow. It is the Lord that determines just how much of the riches of the world He can entrust you with.

1 Samuel 2:7 "The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up."

Just because a person has great riches does not mean they will still have them, when it is time to pass them on to their children. God is the one who determines that.

The absolute worst thing that can happen to people is to suddenly come into a lot of money and not knowing how to use it wisely. Most spend it and end up more miserable and unhappy than before because they had their "dream", only to lose it all. Many lives have been ruined in this way.

Ecclesiastes 5:15 "As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand."

Death cancels out the riches a man possesses on the earth. When he dies, the things he possessed on the earth pass on to someone else. The only things we will possess in heaven are the things we stored there, when we were still alive.

Luke 12:20 "But God said unto him, [Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"

I Timothy 6:7 "For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out."

Ecclesiastes 5:16 "And this also [is] a sore evil, [that] in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath labored for the wind?"

The wind is spoken of here, because we do not know where it comes from, and we do not know where it goes. Besides, can you hold the wind? Riches are as transient as the wind. They come rather unexpectedly, and leave the same way.

John 6:27 "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed."

Ecclesiastes 5:17 "All his days also he eateth in darkness, and [he hath] much sorrow and wrath with his sickness."

Money cannot buy you health, or happiness. Eating in darkness indicates he had not sought God. He was sick at the loss of his money. His greatest concern should have been nearing death without God, instead he was more concerned about nearing death without money.

In contrast to the anxiety of those just described (in verses 12-17), for those who consider God as the source of wealth, there are pleasures, riches and the ability to enjoy them (see 2:24).

Ecclesiastes 5:18 "Behold [that] which I have seen: [it is] good and comely [for one] to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it [is] his portion."

"Comely" is the same word translated (in 3:11), meaning appropriate. Once again, Solomon uses an admonition to enjoy the richness of life that God gives.

The things that God provides for our use here on the earth, we should be thankful for. Those who pray and thank God for all they have are doing the will of God. Paul teaches a very good lesson in the following verse.

Philippians 4:11 "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content." We must be thankful to God for what we have been provided, regardless if it is great, or small."

Ecclesiastes 5:19 "Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this [is] the gift of God."

We are what we are, by the grace of God. God makes some rich. He makes others poor. He sets kings on their thrones. Solomon is just thanking God for all the bountiful world blessings God has bestowed upon him.

To understand this is to enjoy the satisfaction of His good gifts.

Deuteronomy 8:18 "But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for [it is] he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as [it is] this day."

Ecclesiastes 5:20 "For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth [him] in the joy of his heart."

It is very difficult, when we get a little older, to look back into our lives and remember the details. The person who learns to accept things day by day in the peace that Christ provides, does not fret about things that might have been.

Romans 5:11 "And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."

When a person recognizes the goodness of God, he rejoices and does not dwell unduly on the troubles detailed in the previous context.

Enjoyment is a gift of God, and man should be motivated by the brevity of his own life to experience it.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 5 Questions

1. Where is holy ground?

2. How can we "Keep our foot"?

3. Let every man be ________ to hear, and ______ to speak.

4. What is the sacrifice that God wants from us?

5. To _______ is better than sacrifice.

6. Let thy words be ______.

7. If any man offend not in word, the same is a __________ man.

8. We must let the ________ of _______ bridle our tongues.

9. Why do we ask, and receive not?

10. What causes dreams?

11. The heathen think that they shall be heard for their ______ ________.

12. Who broke a vow to God, and were killed for it?

13. Swear ______ at all.

14. Why can we not afford to swear?

15. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy _________ to sin.

16. The _______, or the _______, rules the will of a person.

17. Why should you not base your belief on dreams?

18. The _________ of _____ is the beginning of wisdom.

19. What must the judges on this earth remember?

20. What is "marvel" in verse 8 speaking of?

21. Who is verse 10 speaking of?

22. What happens, when your goods increase?

23. Why does a laborer sleep better?

24. Who makes a person rich, or poor?

25. Why is the wind spoken of in verse 16?

26. What does "eating in darkness" indicate?

27. What had Paul learned about wealth?

28. How did we receive atonement?

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 6

Ecclesiastes Chapter 6

Ecclesiastes 6:1 "There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it [is] common among men:"

The expression "under the sun" is speaking of life in the physical world. The evil that all men are tempted with is self-gratification. At some point in his life, everyone has been a bit self-centered. Sin occurs, when we try to please our flesh.

Ecclesiastes 6:2 "A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this [is] vanity, and it [is] an evil disease."

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away for His own purposes. So, the blessings of God cannot be assumed or taken for granted. But they should be enjoyed with thankfulness while they are available.

Prosperity is not necessarily good. Accumulation of wealth does not always result in the use of it.

Men, such as Solomon, who have known great wealth and honor, will all tell you that the riches did not make them happy.

The abundance of things cannot satisfy the soul of mankind. The statement that he wanted nothing, is saying in the physical realm, he wanted for nothing.

Anything money could buy, he had. The truth is, money cannot buy happiness. "To eat", in this Scripture, is speaking not of physical food, but of enjoyment.

It is so sad that he will not receive enjoyment from all of this, but a total stranger will enjoy it. The evil disease brings death. I believe this is speaking of sin.

In verses 3-6 Not having a burial, as in the case of King Jehoiakim, indicated complete disrespect and disregard for one's life. To die without mourners or honors was considered worse that being born dead, even if one had many children and a full life.

Ecclesiastes 6:3 "If a man beget an hundred [children], and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also [that] he have no burial; I say, [that] an untimely birth [is] better than he."

This is hyperbole.

An untimely birth is better than an unsatisfied life.

It seems that Solomon is, of all men, most miserable. He even wishes he had not lived beyond his birth. Children were thought of as a blessing of God. To have a hundred children, would be an extreme blessing. Living many years was thought of as a blessing, as well.

The truth is, that without God, all of this would be nothing to desire. The only real peace and joy that any of us have is in the Lord. The soul of man is the will of man, and is also, related to the heart of man. True goodness comes from the heart of man. The hope that Solomon is bemoaning here, as if it were lost, is the hope of eternal life.

Ecclesiastes 6:4 "For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness."

When a person is born, he is nothing, until the breath of life is breathed into him by God. Then he becomes a living soul.

Solomon is speaking here, as if that life was not breathed into him, and he was a baby who never lived. He had never come to the Light. We know that this is the condition of all mankind, until they receive the Light (Jesus Christ), into their lives. He is life.

John 8:12 "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Acts 26:18 "To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

To be born of the Spirit of God, is to be filled with the Light of Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Ecclesiastes 6:5 "Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known [any thing]: this hath more rest than the other."

He is still speaking of those who are not born alive. I would tend to believe this is speaking of the spiritually dead. The sun is a container for the light.

2 Corinthians 4:4 "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

Satan is the god of this world, that brings darkness to the spirit of mankind. Jesus brings the Light, and does away with that darkness.

Ecclesiastes 6:6 "Yea, though he live a thousand years twice [told], yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?"

The "one place", spoken of here, is the grave. Yes, all flesh goes to the grave. It was made of dust, and will return to dust. Man is more than just flesh. The spirit of man is made in the image of God that lives on forever.

Years on this earth do not even matter. The eternal life is what is important. Two thousand years would not belong enough for man (without God), to find satisfaction in this life. The only real satisfaction is in the Lord.

Lack of the soul satisfaction comes from working only for what is consumed (verse 7), seeing little difference in the end between the wise and foolish (verse 8), not knowing the future (verse 9), realizing that God alone controls everything (verse 10), and true understanding of the present and future is limited (verses 11-12).

Ecclesiastes 6:7 "All the labor of man [is] for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled."

This is true that the physical body of man requires more and more food. They can never get enough, that they are not hungry again the next day. Life without God would seem that it was a never ending cycle of trying to satisfy yourself with food.

Matthew 5:6 "Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."

Efforts for satisfaction are often frustrated.

Ecclesiastes 6:8 "For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?"

These are profound statements that Solomon is making of the flesh man. Truly they are neither one wise or foolish; ever satisfied with what they have. The poor, that knoweth to walk before the living, is saying that he has chosen the path that leads to life.

Perhaps, the poor finds it more readily, because he is so busy making food for his family, he has no time to get into sin. This does not mean that all poor men are saved, any more than it means all wise men are lost. This is just saying that wealth and intelligence does not get you to heaven. It says a poor man is more apt to seek God, because of the necessities he does without.

We must realize we need a Savior, before we can have the Savior.

The wise man has no advantage over the fool in this area, nor has the poor man an advantage in his inherently humble estate.

Ecclesiastes 6:9 "Better [is] the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this [is] also vanity and vexation of spirit."

Therefore it is better to enjoy present possessions (the sight of the eyes) than the uncertainty of potential possessions. "Wandering of the desire"

Proverbs 17:24 "Wisdom [is] before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool [are] in the ends of the earth."

(In verses 10-12), these verses emphasize on of the keynotes of the book: man is too limited in knowledge to explain the problems of life. Questions like "who knoweth" occur four times in the book; and the plain statement "Man does not know" is used seven times. These emphasize a distinct deficiency of knowledge.

Ecclesiastes 6:10 "That which hath been is named already, and it is known that it [is] man: neither may he contend with him that is mightier than he."

It was part of God's plan to make man. If we wonder why we are born, we are questioning God's good judgment. Some things about our lives we cannot change. We have no control over who our parents were, whether we are born a Caucasian, African, Indian, Asian, or whatever we are.

We have no control over whether we are male, or female. All these things are determined by God. God is our Creator. We cannot, and should not, argue with God. We must accept everything in God's will.

The only thing we do have control over, is whether we accept the Lord as our Savior, or not. Our free will determines whether we follow the desires of our flesh, or whether we follow the spirit.

Ecclesiastes 6:11 "Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what [is] man the better?"

The blessings God bestows upon us should not cause us to be vain, because they are a gift. We are intelligent, because God gave us intelligence. We are rich, because God chose for us to be rich. We are famous, because God chose for us to be famous. How can we have great pride and vanity in this? It is not of our doing.

Ecclesiastes 6:12 "For who knoweth what [is] good for man in [this] life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?"

Only God knows the answers to this. We can discuss ways to improve our society, but truly the only help is in God. We are here today and gone tomorrow. Our life is like a shadow, or a vapor. If we are vain about things God has bestowed upon us in this life, our lives are not much good. Vanity has no place in our lives.

"Under the sun" is speaking of this life on the earth. I cannot make myself successful. That is up to God. I can do my best, and He can make my work a blessing. Someone else can come along, and build better than what we have done. It is a continual thing.

James 4:14 "Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

Ecclesiastes Chapter 6 Questions

1. What does the expression "under the sun" refer to?

2. What is the evil all men are tempted with?

3. Verse 2 is speaking of what kind of man?

4. What will all very wealthy men tell you about their wealth?

5. The ___________ of things cannot satisfy the soul of man.

6. What is "to eat", in verse 2, speaking of?

7. What does the author believe the evil disease to be?

8. How do we know that Solomon is, of all men, most miserable?

9. What was thought to be blessings?

10. The only real peace and joy, that any of us have is in the _______.

11. True goodness comes from the __________ of man.

12. When a person is born, he is nothing, until what happens?

13. If any man be in Christ, he is a ________ _________.

14. What does the author believe about the dead in verse 5?

15. What is the "one place" in verse 6?

16. The ________ of man is made in the image of God.

17. All of the labor of man is for his ___________.

18. Answer verse 8.

19. Why is a poor man more apt to seek God?

20. "The sight of the eyes" is probably speaking of what?

21. What is "wandering of the desire", probably, speaking of?

22. If we wonder why we are born, we are doing what?

23. What are some things we have no control of?

24. What do we have control over?

25. Why is one more intelligent than another?

26. Who knows the answer to verse 12?

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 7

Ecclesiastes Chapter 7

These sayings are much like those in the Book of Proverbs and demonstrate that Ecclesiastes also supports the wise approach to life. Mourning and sorrow are better than feasting and laughter (verses 1-3), because they cause a man to reflect wisely on the brevity of life. The laughter of the fool is compared to the crackling of thorns (verse 6), since both were characterized by noise, volatility and transience. To talk about the former days (verse 10), or the good old days, is not wise. Both good and bad days are the work of God and are used, apart from our ability to understand them, in God's sovereign plan (verses 13-14).

Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.

Where a man has so lived to earn a good reputation, the day of his death can be a time of honor.

It appears that Solomon is giving some words of wisdom on the value of different things in life. A good name is, probably, the most valuable thing a person can have (in the physical). The only things that are more important are our relationship with God and our families.

It is a blessing to children, when they are left an honorable name by their father and mother. They are one step ahead of creating a good name for themselves. At least, everyone expects them to be of good character, when their parents have a good character. It is very nice to smell good, but more important is a person's character.

The day of death is better than the day of one's birth, because there are a lot of problems and heartaches in this world. When we die (if we are saved), those troubles and heartaches are over.

Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.

The point of the section (of verses 2-6), is to emphasize that more is learned from adversity than from pleasure. True wisdom is developed in the crucible of life's trials, though the preacher wishes that were not the case when he writes this too is futility (verse 6).

Ecclesiastes 7:2  better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that the end of all men; and the living will lay to his heart.

Actually, we have this reversed. We rejoice when someone is born, and mourn when they die. Birth brings a lifetime of problems that we must deal with. At death (if we are Christians), we are told there will be no more sorrow.

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

I have used the following expression many times: We do not learn anything on the mountain top, we learn in the valley. Problems come to make us strong.

Psalms 119:71  good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

James 4:8-10 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse hands, sinners; and purify hearts, double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

None of this is saying that laughter is bad. It is, in fact, good. It is speaking of sorrow for our sins causing us to repent and be renewed in our hearts.

Ecclesiastes 7:4 The heart of the wise in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools in the house of mirth.

This is just explaining that what we do with our lives here on this earth is a very serious matter. We cannot just drift through life pleasing our flesh, and have a future. Our future lives are very serious things.

We will spend all of eternity in one of two places. If we never get serious about our relationship with God, we will spend eternity in hell. On the other hand, if we get serious with God, repent of our sins, and become a new creature in Christ, we will inherit eternal life in heaven.

Ecclesiastes 7:5  better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.

The song of fools is speaking of songs of revelry. This type of song is usually accompanied with drinking or drugs. We find that suggestions in this type of songs encourage one to sin.

The present day rock music has terrible suggestive lyrics. Some of the words spoken are covered with the loud beat. Many young people do not even know what the words are.

The sad thing is that they are recorded in the subconscious mind, even when they do not realize what they are saying. The rebuke of the wise is to cause the person not to sin. We can certainly see that the rebuke is better.

Proverbs 15:32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.

Ecclesiastes 7:6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so the laughter of the fool: this also vanity.

The thorns, in this instance, are being burned. The laughter of a fool is as temporary as the thorns which burn. The fool's laughter is soon over, and reality sets in. The most foolish thing a person could do is reject the Lord for earthly pleasure.

Ecclesiastes 7:7 Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.

Oppression is an attack on the wise from the outside. It can be an attack from Satan, or from some person under the influence of Satan. It is maddening to be attacked. It is even more terrible to be the oppressor yourself. The truly wise will not be the oppressor.

Isaiah 33:15-16 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defense the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters sure.

Exodus 23:8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. The gift that destroys the heart is speaking of bribery.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Better the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: the patient in spirit better than the proud in spirit.

He that shall endure to the end shall be saved. In that particular sense, the end is much better than the beginning. At the beginning of a job, we are uncertain of ourselves. We have many obstacles to overcome. At the end, we have done all of this and have overcome.

The proud in spirit do not receive instruction very well. Those who are patient will make fewer mistakes.

Luke 21:19 In your patience possess ye your souls.

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.

A very common way of describing this person would be to say he was hot tempered.

Proverbs 14:29  slow to wrath of great understanding: but hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

Ephesians 4:26-27 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

Anger leads to murder and hate which are both forbidden to believers.

Ecclesiastes 7:10 Say not thou, What is that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this.

Many people look back to the good old days. They were not good old days, when they were living them. They are good when you look back, because you have forgotten the problems. It seems (in verse 10 above), he is discontented with things the way they are. He really has no way of knowing that one time is better than another.

God has us in whatever circumstance is best for us at the present. We should be content, whatever is happening. There are times when we look back, that one particular thing was better, but every time has its problems as well.

In the midst of trouble and discontent, it is easy to lose touch with reality.

Ecclesiastes 7:11 Wisdom good with an inheritance: and profit to them that see the sun.

This is speaking of someone who has inherited money and prestige. His wisdom will be considered quicker than someone of low estate. Men are respecters of persons. Wealth that is used for good purposes is good. Solomon was a good example of that, because his father David was thought so highly of.

Ecclesiastes 7:12 For wisdom a defense, money a defense: but the excellency of knowledge wisdom giveth life to them that have it.

Wisdom and money are a protection for those who have them. Godly wisdom brings eternal life. Knowledge is accumulated learning. The more you study God's Word, the closer you are to receiving Him in His fullness.

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Wisdom is better than money because it provides the fulfilled life.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 Questions

1. A ______ ______ is better than precious ointment.

2. What are the only things that are better?

3. Why is the day of death better than the day of birth for a person?

4. Quote Revelation chapter 14 verse 13.

5. Quote Revelation chapter 21 verse 4.

6. Why is sorrow better than laughter?

7. Why do we have problems?

8. Quote Psalms chapter 119 verse 71.

9. What is it really saying about sorrow and laughter?

10. If we drift through life pleasing our flesh, we have no ________.

11. When we become new creatures in Christ, what do we inherit?

12. What is the song of fools speaking of?

13. What goes along with this type of songs?

14. Quote Proverbs chapter 15 verse 32.

15. What is happening to the thorns in verse 6?

16. What is the most foolish thing a person can do?

17. Where does oppression come from?

18. Quote Isaiah chapter 33 verses 15 and 16.

19. The gift that destroys the heart is ___________.

20. Quote Luke chapter 21 verse 19.

21. What kind of person is verse 9 speaking of?

22. Quote Proverbs 14 verse 29.

23. Be ye angry, and ________ not.

24. Many people look back to time they call what?

25. Why are they so good?

26. Wisdom is good with an ____________.

27. Godly wisdom brings ___________ ________.

28. Knowledge is __________ ___________.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 Continued

Ecclesiastes 7:13 Consider the work of God: for who can make straight, which he hath made crooked?

In the last lesson, we saw Solomon complaining that things were not as good as they used to be. God does not like complaining. We cannot change God, or the things He has established. We must accept the things we cannot change. We may need to alter our lives to conform to the things God has done. We must change, not God.

Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Man should consider God's activity because God is sovereign, decreeing and controlling everything under the sun (1:15).

Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

Prosperity € Adversity. God ordains both kinds of days and withholds knowledge of the future.

When things are going well, we should be happy and full of praise to God. When we are having troublesome times, we should just do the very best we can and not be disappointed. If we wait, better times will come.

Behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. We would not appreciate the sunshine, unless there were cloudy days.

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

It is as if God has given good and evil for us to compare. At the end of life, we would be able to look back over our lives and realize we had experienced both. It is our attitude toward the good days and the problem days that make us what we are.

Verses 15-22: The focus on the nature of righteousness is made clear in the statement (in verse 18), for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all

Be not righteous over much € be not over much wicked (verses 16-17), does not apply the golden mean to morality, nor does it constitute a warning against excessive observance of religious ritual. Rather, it warns against self righteousness or the idea that one has actually achieved righteousness.

Verse 17 does not mean that moderation in wickedness is acceptable! It is an accommodation to human frailty. Solomon is saying, avoid the extreme of self righteousness and, at the same time, hold in check your wicked nature (verse 20), so it does not run its natural course to spiritual and moral ruin.

Ecclesiastes 7:15 All have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked that prolongeth in his wickedness.

Solomon is thinking on the things that seem to be unexplainable about life. Sometimes, it seems that those who live for God have the most problems in this earth. The reward promised for righteousness, is long life and prosperity. Sometimes, that does not happen in this life.

Perisheth € prolongeth: The fact that some righteous men die young and some wicked men live long is difficult to understand (8:11-12).

The wicked seem to live on and on and to prosper. The only answer I might have for that is the fact that God is longsuffering. He gives the sinner ample time to repent. The true rewards for the righteous are the rewards they receive during their eternal life in heaven.

Ecclesiastes 7:16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?

Being righteous over much is, possibly, speaking of the formality of religion. God does not appreciate us keeping rituals in the church. He wants a relationship with us. To make oneself wise, is to appear to others to be arrogant and conceited. These things are not wise at all, because they turn God and man against us.

Matthew 6:1-7 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites : for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen : for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Solomon has already exhorted his readers to be righteous and wise. The warning here is against being self-righteous or pharisaical.

Ecclesiastes 7:17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

Solomon had warned, in the previous verse, about the danger of having a form of righteousness. He now is saying, that is not a license to go out and sin. Dying before their time would indicate God killing them for their sins.

James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Ecclesiastes 7:18  good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

This is expressing again, that they should live as near a righteous life as possible. They should not be a follower of God in form only, but should be a believer in their hearts. It is wrong to sin. It is also wrong to be a Christian in form only.

Luke 1:50 And his mercy on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Luke 11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Ecclesiastes 7:19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty which are in the city.

Wisdom coupled with fear of God is one of the mightiest forces upon the earth. Godly wisdom is more help to a person than the help of ten mighty men.

Colossians 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard , do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Wisdom strengtheneth: The measure of wisdom is its ability to bring good outcomes in life.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 For not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

Solomon gave great emphasis to the general effects of sin and also pointed out the universality of personal transgressions. Paul may have recalled this passage when he wrote Romans:

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We can see from all of the above Scriptures that it is the nature of men to sin. At some time or other, each of us has sinned. The wonderful thing is that Jesus took our sins upon His body on the cross. He became our substitute.

When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are free from sin. He washed us in His precious blood, and we became righteous in the sight of God. Jesus put us in right standing with God.

Ecclesiastes 7:21 Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:

We must be careful not to hear accusations others make about our servant, or anyone else. Most of the time, they are not true. If we are dead in Christ, ugly things said about us will not harm us. Look, with me, at a description of those who are in right standing with God. (This is speaking of love).

1 Corinthians 13:5-7 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Since you have many offensive words to be forgiven, don't keep strict accounts of other's offensive words against you.

Ecclesiastes 7:22 For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

How can a person blame someone else for the same sin he has committed himself? If you are honest with yourself, you know you have done a similar thing to what your servant said about you. God will forgive you, if you forgive others. God judges us with the same measure, we judge others.

James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

Verses 23-24 I will be wise € who can find it out? The already wise king resolves to be even wiser. But upon further investigation, the limitations of wisdom become apparent. Some things are unknowable. This realization quickly dampens his enthusiasm.

Solomon is known as the wisest man who ever lived, but even his wisdom was insufficient to understand life fully (7:23). In his search for wisdom Solomon found many sinful people (7:26), but few righteous (7:28; Proverbs 31:10). In spite of the failures of wisdom, it is still the most attractive virtue since it helps bring inner happiness (8:1).

Ecclesiastes 7:23 All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it far from me.

The wisdom in these lessons has to do with the way things are on the earth. Solomon did have much wisdom pertaining to these things. We remember God gave Solomon wisdom to rule his people justly. He knew practical rules of living, but the deeper things of the Spirit of God, who can know?

1 Kings 3:11-12 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

Solomon did not have enough wisdom to keep him from worshipping false gods.

1 Corinthians 1:20 Where the wise? where the scribe? where the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

Ecclesiastes 7:24 That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?

Perhaps, this is speaking of the things of God. Not anyone, including Solomon, truly understands the depth of God. Just the fact of Him being eternal, is more than man of few days can understand.

Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

1 Timothy 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom honor and power everlasting. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 7:25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason , and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness madness:

Man, through all of his efforts, cannot figure out the things of God. It seemed that Solomon was overwhelmed with the desire to know the secrets of life. He applied himself to the fullest. He knew more than any mortal man, yet he did not know the secrets of God.

We really cannot please God by gaining head knowledge about Him. He wants our hearts. He wants us to have faith in Him.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Ecclesiastes 7:26 And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart snares and nets, her hands bands: whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.

This is the seductress about whom Solomon warns young men (in Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:1-14; 6:24-29; 7:1-27). Elsewhere, Solomon exalts the virtues of man's lifetime companion (Eccl. 9:9; Prov. 5:15-23; and 31:10-31).

Solomon makes this statement, possibly because his 700 wives have turned him to worship false gods.

1 Kings 11:3-4 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.

His love for these women caused him to turn from God. Solomon calls himself a sinner here.

In verses 27 to 29, Empirical acquisition of knowledge, that is man seeking righteousness through his many schemes, fails. Only God can make man upright.

Ecclesiastes 7:27-29 Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, one by one, to find out the account: Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Solomon has looked back over his life, and found there are very few men (perhaps 1 in a thousand), who are totally upright. In all the women he married, he did not find one who truly loved God. His wives were heathen women. Solomon is saying very few truly are saved.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 Continued Questions

  1. We must accept the things we cannot _________.
  2. What is one thing that is not predestined for us?
  3. In the day of prosperity be ___________.
  4. What should we do in troublesome times?
  5. What really makes us what we are?
  6. What are some unexplainable things about life?
  7. When do the true rewards for the righteous come?
  8. What does righteous over much mean?
  9. When you make yourself wise, how do you appear to others?
  10. What is Solomon saying in verse 17?
  11. We must not fear those who can kill the body, but whom?
  12. It is wrong to sin, but it is also wrong to do what?
  13. Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than _____ mighty men.
  14. What is one of the mightiest forces in the earth?
  15. There is not a just man upon the _________.
  16. It is the nature of men to _____.
  17. What is the wonderful thing that Jesus did for all of us?
  18. We bless God, and curse men who are made after the _______ of God.
  19. What kind of wisdom did Solomon have?
  20. Where had Solomon gotten this wisdom?
  21. Who truly understands the depth of God?
  22. Who has seen God?
  23. We really can not please God by gaining ________ knowledge.
  24. What does God want from us?
  25. What is faith?
  26. What had Solomon's wives caused him to do?
  27. How many men, in a thousand, did he find totally upright?
  28. How many of his wives truly loved God?
  29. What is Solomon saying in this?

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 8

Ecclesiastes Chapter 8

Ecclesiastes 8:1 "Who [is] as the wise [man]? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed."

God had given Solomon wisdom beyond all of his fellowmen. We find that interpretation, as well as wisdom, is a gift from God.

Joseph was given the ability by God to interpret dreams. Daniel was gifted to interpret dreams, as well. Moses' head shone so brightly when he came down from the mountain after communicating with God, that he had to cover his head so as not to blind the people.

I believe God put the first 5 books of the Bible in Moses' mind while he was on the mountain. This great wisdom caused his head to shine. Most of Genesis occurred long before Moses' lifetime. He had to receive it from somewhere. The type of wisdom and understanding, spoken of here, would cause the facial features to change. Look what happened to Stephen's face.

Acts 6:15 And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Ecclesiastes 8:2 "I [counsel thee] to keep the king's commandment, and [that] in regard of the oath of God."

It appears, from this, the king's commandments had been given with an oath to God. It is best to keep them, if you value your life.

Romans 13:1-4 "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:" "For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil."

"The oath of God": This refers to Israel's promises to serve King Solomon (1 Chronicle 29:24).

Ecclesiastes 8:3 "Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him."

Wise behavior before kings is counseled because each subject took the oath of God or oath of loyalty to the king before God (verse 2); and because the king had the power to do his own will (as in verses 3-4).

The king is the ruler of the land. He is the authority God has put in power. This is saying, do not try to get away from the rule of the king. Do not shirk your duty.

Ecclesiastes 8:4 "Where the word of a king [is, there is] power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?"

This is explaining that there is no rule over the king, except God. The king has the last say over his people. The word of the king is the law of the land. No one can question the king. He, who questioned the king, would be severely punished.

The only time anyone should disobey the rule of the land, is when it is direct opposition to the law of God. The Egyptian midwives feared God, and did not kill the boy babies. God saved their lives, because they were obedient to Him.

Ecclesiastes 8:5 "Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment."

A wise man knows when to apply the proper course of action for the best outcome, whether in an earthly sense before the king (8:2), or an eternal sense before God (verses 12-13).

A large part of being wise is to know both time and judgment, the latter word being a reference to the procedure for a matter.

When you keep the commandments of the king, you will not be punished. The wise man sees beyond the immediate happening, and knows there is a God in heaven who will someday judge the whole earth, including the king. Speaking of the wise man's heart is speaking of the moral aspect of his life. Even though he does not like the commandment of the king, the wise man will keep them, if they are not opposed to God's law.

1 Peter 3:13-14 "And who [is] he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" "But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;"

Ecclesiastes 8:6 "Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man [is] great upon him."

This is giving reasons why a person should obey the king in the land. Everything, and everyone, has an appointed time. Generally speaking an evil king will not be king very long.

God sees the misery of His people, like He did the children of Israel in Egypt. God will not allow the misery to go on forever.

Ecclesiastes 8:7 "For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?"

God has appointed a time for everything but man knows neither the time nor the outcome. These uncertainties can increase his misery.

Only the wise can discern this time since man does not naturally know what will transpire next. We do not know exactly when the end of our lives on earth will be. We do not even know exactly when the coming of the Lord shall be either.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you." "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."

Ecclesiastes 8:8 "[There is] no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither [hath he] power in the day of death: and [there is] no discharge in [that] war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it."

Spirit, in this sense, is speaking of the spirit of man, which is actually his life. That is that breath of life within us.

Humankind is severely limited as:

(1) No one can restrain the spirit (or possibly the wind);

(2) No one can predict or control the day of his death;

(3) No one can obtain release in time of war;

(4) No one can be released from extensive wickedness, since it becomes like a master ruling over him.

These 4 statements of impossibility powerfully demonstrate Solomon's argument that man is sorely limited in his dominion over life. How much more significant this makes the virtue of wisdom!

Death is as precarious and uncontrollable as the wind.

Jesus dismissed His spirit from His body, and told it to go to the Father, when He said:

Luke 23:46 "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."

We do not have control over our spirit to tell it such. Our spirit leaves our body at the command of God. We do not know what hour, or day, we will die to this earth. At the time of death of our physical body, there seems to be a separation of those who belong to Jesus, and those who do not.

We do know that Jesus went into hell, and preached, and brought out the captives with Him.

1 Peter 3:19 "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;"

Ephesians 4:8 "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men."

Ecclesiastes 8:9 "All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: [there is] a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt."

The master must consider the possibility of being hurt, when he rules his people too harshly. In the days of slaves, they were very valuable to their master, as long as they could work. If he caused injury to them, they were of no value to him anymore.

Solomon has viewed the actions of those around him, and discovered it is much better to take care of your servants. A contented servant will get much more done for his master.

Ecclesiastes 8:10 "And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this [is] also vanity."

This refers to the temple at Jerusalem. Lessons that should be gained from the death of the hypocritically wicked are quickly forgotten.

The word forgotten is read "praised" in some manuscripts. The statement then means that Solomon has observed that the wicked received an honorable burial and praise after their death. This observation is reinforced by the fact that the fortunes of the righteous and the wicked are often reversed: The righteous sometimes get what the wicked deserve and the wicked often get what the righteous deserve as we'll see (in verse 14).

Solomon is seeing the apparent injustices in this life. The wicked, possibly, should not be buried, but treated like the animals they were. We saw this happen in the case of wicked Jezebel.

2 Kings 9:10 "And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and [there shall be] none to bury [her]. And he opened the door, and fled."

In this particular case, the wicked were given a place of burial with the righteous. It also appears, they had pretended to be righteous, because they came and went from the place of the holy.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."

The gracious delay of God's retribution leads to further disobedience. This delay, in actuality, in no way diminishes the certainty of final judgment.

Much judgment does not take place on the earth. Some, who appear to be living the way God would have them to live, will find judgment from God to be harsh.

Matthew 7:22-23 "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Those living sinful lives, who are not punished immediately, cause others to go the way of sin too. They think it is easy to cover up their sins. You may get away with your sin on this earth and no one knows, but be sure, God knows.

Ecclesiastes 8:12 "Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his [days] be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:"

There is no real advantage for the wicked, although at times it might seem so. Temporal patience does not eliminate eternal judgment.

Solomon never counsels his readers to forget God and cast their lot with the wicked; because he knows by faith that it will go well with the righteous who fear God, and ultimately it will not go well for the wicked.

It is really of no concern to us how God deals with the sinner. The one thing we must do, is live the very best we can ourselves. God is not willing that even one should perish.

Perhaps, He is waiting, giving ample time for Him to repent. Our concern is not his sins, or how God deals with him. Our concern is our own sins. If we live right, God will bless us.

Psalms 37:18 "The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever."

Those who live for God will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 25:34 "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:"

Ecclesiastes 8:13 "But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong [his] days, [which are] as a shadow; because he feareth not before God."

Solomon knew that God had not promised long life to the wicked. It troubled Solomon that he saw seeming contradictions to this. (In verse 13), Solomon is stating, that many times the wicked's life was shortened. He believed this to be the correct solution to evil.

Isaiah 57:21 "[There is] no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."

Those who live for God have hope of the resurrection. Those who do not, have a fearful awaiting of the judgment, and then the lake of fire.

Matthew 13:49-50 "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just," "And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

Ecclesiastes 8:14 "There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just [men], unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked [men], to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also [is] vanity."

Temporally speaking, God generally rewards obedience and punishes disobedience. Solomon regards the exceptions to this principle as enigmatic and discouraging (see Psalm 73).

The key to this is "upon the earth". Jesus said it best when he said in Matthew:

Matthew 13:30 "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."

On this earth, the wicked and the righteous live together side by side. It appears, sometimes, that the evil growth (tares), is as great or greater, than the righteous (wheat). The separation comes at judgment. To the natural eye, this seems unfair.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 "Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun."

In no way does Solomon commend unbridled rampant indulgence in sin, which is implied in Christ's account of the man whose barns were full. That man may have justified his sin by quoting this passage (Luke 12:19). His focus here is on the resolve to enjoy life in the face of the injustice which surrounded him (see Eccl. 2:24).

This is clearly a faith position on Solomon's part, since what he observes in life often contradicts it. This puzzling reversal should not deter man from enjoying life under the hand of God.

Under the sun, this might be true, if there was no eternal life. Solomon is saying, to enjoy life to the fullest on this earth. He is saying, be thankful for the blessings of this life and enjoy laughter, food, and drink. This is the reward for the labor of this life. This certainly is true in the physical realm. Notice the recognition that God gave it to him.

1 Timothy 4:4 "For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:"

1 Timothy 6:17 "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;"

Ecclesiastes 8:16 "When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also [there is that] neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:)"

God's work is wonderful, but at times incomprehensible.

We must notice again, that Solomon is looking at the happenings of this earth. He is applying his wisdom, so that he might understand the earthly life. All of this is Solomon trying to find out what this life is all about.

Many women will say, that housework is like the last phrase here. It seems it never ends. They clean house and cook on Monday, and then, it is to do all over again on Tuesday.

It is not uncommon for thinking man to try to understand life and where it leads. Solomon says, you would get no sleep at all, if you waited, until you understood life, to sleep. The questions go on.

Ecclesiastes 8:17 "Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek [it] out, yet he shall not find [it]; yea further; though a wise [man] think to know [it], yet shall he not be able to find [it]."

The inability of man to understand God's work is emphasized by the threefold negation of the verb find out with the work of God as its object each time.

The intelligence of the most intelligent man that ever lived is as nothing compared with God's intelligence. It is impossible to understand everything about God. The intelligence of man does not get him to heaven. God wants us to accept Him on simple faith. There are secrets of God that will not be known, until we get to heaven.

The little understanding that we have, and the little more understanding that Solomon had, are gifts from God. Even at that, mortal man cannot know the depth of God.

Romans 11:33 "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"

Solomon, like us, will have to wait until he gets to heaven to know more.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 8 Questions

1. God had given ___________ wisdom above his fellows.

2. ____________, as well as wisdom, is a gift from God.

3. _______ head shone, when he came down from the mountain after communicating with God.

4. Where does the author believe Moses got the first 5 books of the Bible?

5. Most of Genesis happened when?

6. Let every soul be subject unto the _________ _______.

7. The powers that be are __________ of God.

8. What is verse 3 saying?

9. There is no rule over the king, except _______.

10. The ______ of the _______ is the law of the land.

11. When is the only time a person should disobey the rule of the land?

12. Who were very good examples of the correct time to disobey the king?

13. What does the wise man look ahead and see, when he is under the king?

14. Why will an evil king not be king very long?

15. What is spirit, in verse 8, speaking of?

16. Our spirit leaves our body at the command of ______.

17. Where did Jesus go, and preach, and bring its captives out with Him?

18. The master must remember what when he is ruling others?

19. In verse 10, Solomon is seeing the apparent ___________ in this life.

20. What happened to wicked Jezebel?

21. Whose business is it of how God deals with the sinners?

22. What happens to the blessed of the Father?

23. What hope do the believers have, that the sinners do not have?

24. What happens to the wicked, at the end?

25. What is the key to verse 14?

26. Who are the "wheat"?

27. Who are the "tares"?

28. In verse 15, what did Solomon recommend?

29. What makes the food we eat clean?

30. What charge are the rich given in 1 Timothy 6:17.

31. How do women feel about housework, that fits this lesson?

32. ____________ does not get us to heaven.

33. God wants our simple __________.

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 9

Ecclesiastes Chapter 9

Ecclesiastes 9:1 "For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, [are] in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred [by] all [that is] before them."

Man cannot know God's disposition by observation since the same calamities strike both the wicked and the righteous.

Without God, man does not even have the power to tell the difference between love and hate. Everything that man is, God created him to be. Solomon is wise, because God gave him wisdom. Even the breath that we take is by permission of God.

Even the little we do understand is by the Holy Spirit of God revealing it to us. Solomon had searched the world over to find out what life is. He came back to the conclusion he started with. God is all in all. There are no solutions aside from God.

Solomon is a thinker, and he has come to the end of his earthly wisdom, no smarter than when he began. We are like sheep that must have a Shepherd to lead us.

There will be no inequities in the final judgment of the righteous or the wicked, because God remembers both in perfect detail.

Ecclesiastes 9:2 "All [things come] alike to all: [there is] one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as [is] the good, so [is] the sinner; [and] he that sweareth, as [he] that feareth an oath."

This is like the statement, "It rains on the just and on the unjust". Certain things happen to all of us. We are all born. We all die.

These things are alike for the sinner and for the righteous. On this earth, it pretty much appears that similar things happen to all of us. That is true, until God's wrath comes, and then, those who are not righteous in the sight of God, have terrible trouble.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a very good example of the wrath of God being poured out on the wicked. The flood in Noah's time was another example of God's wrath. In that particular time, the people had sinned so greatly that God was sorry He had made man.

Nearer our time, the Black Plague killed many, because the wrath of God had fallen. In our generation, I believe the disease A.I.D.S. is the wrath of God on the earth.

Sometimes when the wrath of God comes, innocent people are injured, because of their close proximity to the sinners. The only thing that stops the wrath of God is true repentance. In many instances, when the wrath of God falls, He saves a few, like He did with Noah's family. God does make a separation, but the natural man cannot see it. We must remember in all of this that Solomon is looking at world conditions.

Ecclesiastes 9:3 "This [is] an evil among all [things] that are done under the sun, that [there is] one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness [is] in their heart while they live, and after that [they go] to the dead."

There is one fate for both the righteous and the unrighteous and that is death because of universal depravity.

"Sons of men" is speaking of mankind in his sinful condition before he is saved. When a person is saved, he becomes a son of God.

Unregenerate man does have a sinful heart. If he does not repent and become saved, he will go to hell. The following is a very good example of unsaved man.

Genesis 6:5 "And God saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually."

Matthew 15:19 "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:" These are describing a man born of the flesh.

Ecclesiastes 9:4 "For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion."

The hope of all men is to stay alive. The lion was highly regarded but the dog was despised; nevertheless, a living dog is better that a dead lion because with life comes knowledge, reward (verse 5), and continued activity on earth (verse 6).

As long as a person is alive, there is hope for him. As long as there is a breath in the body, he can repent and be saved. The dog was thought of as a useless animal, and the lion was thought of as being the bravest. A dead lion has less courage than a live dog, regardless of how useless the dog is.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten."

This is not a pessimistic statement about life after death; rather it affirms that life on earth is the only arena of opportunity for accomplishment and reward.

The wicked and the righteous realize that they will die. The dead do not know anything. Their spirits have left their bodies. The living is usually trying to accomplish something, before they die. Those that die are soon forgotten. All of this is speaking of the flesh man. This is speaking of death of the flesh. The spirit of man lives on.

Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

Ecclesiastes 9:6 "Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any [thing] that is done under the sun."

All of these things are speaking of those living in the flesh on this earth. When their bodies die, they stop feeling love, hate, and envy. All of their feelings that manifested themselves in their lives on the earth are gone when they die. They have no more effect on the earth.

Ecclesiastes 9:7 "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works."

For the first time in the passages on enjoyment, the key words of the exhortation are put into the imperative mood; eat, drink, live, and so on. Also a new motivation is expressed: God now accepteth thy works. Meaning clearly that God approves of the enjoyment of life. His will is that men enjoy life.

Man's labors on the earth give him the right to enjoy the food and drink he has earned. Food and wine, here, are spoken of as his daily foodstuff. Wine was drunk with meals, and this is not speaking of getting drunk.

They lived for the time on earth. The last part of the verse above, is offering salvation through God for them. Jesus Christ makes us acceptable to the Father.

Ecclesiastes 9:8 "Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment."

The idea of enjoyment is further reiterated (in verse 8), with two directives. White garments on the body and ointment on the head made life more comfortable in the torrid Near Eastern climates; they serve here to symbolize purity and the enjoyment of life.

The garments being always white speaks of being clothed in righteousness (white). White speaks of purity, and righteousness.

In the 23rd Psalm, we read "thou anointest my head with oil".

Ecclesiastes 9:9 "Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that [is] thy portion in [this] life, and in thy labor which thou takest under the sun."

Another command concerns the enjoyment of life with one's wife. The reasons for these commands are: It is man's portion in the life and there is no work in the grave as we will see in (verse 10).

In chapter 7 of this book, it appeared that Solomon thought all women to be evil. As we can easily see here, that is not what he believed at all. The women he had married were from tribes forbidden to intermarry.

Solomon had taken these women as wives in form only, because he did not want war with their fathers and brothers. The worst thing about this, was the fact that they brought their false gods with them. They brought idol worship into the country, and Solomon built them temples for their false gods.

A good wife is more precious than rubies. Notice, I said wife, not wives. The best arrangement is for one man and one woman to become one flesh and live that way, until one of them dies. This is a peaceful, contented life.

Colossians 3:19 "Husbands, love [your] wives, and be not bitter against them."

Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."

I truly believe to have a happy life, mankind must work. It is wonderful to be loved and wanted, but it is much more wonderful to be needed. There is a feeling of accomplishment that comes from a job well done.

We are the happiest, when we are the busiest. Then we do not have time to worry and fret. When we are in the grave, all activity stops.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."

Wisdom cannot guarantee good outcomes because of what appear to be so many unpredictable contingencies.

(In verses 11-12), we see five statements of unexpected results are followed by an explanation. Man's ability cannot guarantee the results because of the equalizing effects of time and chance.

We find that Solomon is using his own experience to explain this. The fastest runner who ever ran a race, could not win with a sprained ankle.

The battle is not always won by the largest number of well trained troops either. Gideon is a very good example of that. He took 300 men, and whipped thousands of the enemy.

It is not always the wise who make money either. You may go into a business venture that ordinarily would be sound, and have unavoidable circumstances causing you to fail.

You could be the most skillful person who ever worked, but if the materials you were working with were poor, the finished product would be defective. Circumstances enter into our success or failure. I prefer to say, God is blessing when everything works smooth.

We must take advantage of opportunities that arise. We must do our best and pray for God to bless. Then we might succeed.

Ecclesiastes 9:12 "For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so [are] the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them."

"His time": The time of his misfortune, especially death.

This is saying that mankind has no idea how long he will live. We might start to town to work, and be killed before we get there. Some die very young. It is sometimes an accident, and other times a disease that strikes when we least expect it.

One of the worst losses of a loved one to deal with is when they die suddenly.

We should not say, tomorrow, I will do something. We may not be alive tomorrow. We should say "if God be willing, I will do that tomorrow".

Ecclesiastes 9:13 "This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it [seemed] great unto me:"

Again, Solomon has looked throughout the earth and come to the conclusion that something or someone, had control of this. Mankind must live within the circumstances he finds himself. God controls everything.

Wisdom may not receive its due in this life.

Ecclesiastes 9:14-15 "[There was] a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:" "Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man."

This is a parable. Solomon could be speaking of any small town. In that city, was found a wise man that was poor. The people would not listen to him, because he was poor. Even though he saved their city, they soon forgot that he had saved them.

This could be a type and shadow of all the wonderful miracles that Jesus did for them, being soon forgotten just before the crucifixion. He was their Savior, and yet, they did not even receive Him, until after His resurrection. At one point, the Bible says, all forsook Him.

Matthew 13:57 "And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house."

Ecclesiastes 9:16 "Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom [is] despised, and his words are not heard."

This is true because he lacks status and position.

Most people would listen to the wise man, if he was wealthy. They have no respect for the poor. They possibly believe if he is so wise, why is he not rich? Generally speaking, the words of a poor wise man are not heeded. They were heeded long enough to save them in verse 15 above. Wisdom is better than strength. Wisdom brings the necessities of life to the wise.

The story teaches that, in spite of the value of wisdom, it often goes unheeded.

Ecclesiastes 9:17 "The words of wise [men are] heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools."

This is just saying that a quiet man who speaks the truth through wisdom from God will be heard. A fool shouting will not be received. You would shut off your hearing from the fool. He has nothing of profit to say. Even if the fool is a king, those who hear him, will not receive his message.

Ecclesiastes 9:18 "Wisdom [is] better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good."

Solomon practiced this very thing. During his 40 year reign, there were no wars. He was known as a man of peace. He used the wisdom God had given him to stay out of war. This was the very reason he married so many women. All the weapons of war might not bring peace, but wisdom can. God would destroy countries that turned away from Him in sin.

Hebrews 12:15-16 "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled;" "Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."

Be wise unto salvation.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 9 Questions

1. Whose hand are the righteous and the wise in?

2. Everything man is, ________ created him to be.

3. Where does wisdom come from?

4. What had Solomon searched the world over to find?

5. We are like ________ that must have a _________ to lead us.

6. It rains on the _________ and on the __________.

7. What are some things that happen to all of us?

8. When does the sameness of God's dealing with mankind stop?

9. Who are good examples of God's wrath on the wicked?

10. What is a sign of God's wrath on our society today?

11. Why are innocent people sometimes hurt by the wrath of God on the wicked?

12. Who did God save in the great flood?

13. Who is the expression "sons of men" speaking of?

14. When a person is saved, he becomes a ________ of _____.

15. Where do evil thoughts come from?

16. As long as you are living, there is ________.

17. In verse 5, who knows they will die?

18. What is verse 6 saying about love, hatred, and envy?

19. Verse 7 says, man's labors give him what right?

20. What do white garments speak of?

21. Where do we read "thou anointest my head with oil"?

22. Who is Solomon saying to live with all the days of your life?

23. Why was Solomon not happy with his 700 wives?

24. A good wife is more precious than __________.

25. What does the author believe makes a happy life?

26. The race is not to the _________.

27. _______ and _______ happeneth to them all.

28. Give some of the examples about time and chance affecting our lives.

29. What is the life of man compared to in verse 12?

30. Solomon found that ________ controls everything.

31. What is verse 14 and 15.

32. What did the poor wise man do in verse 15?

33. ___________ is better than strength.

34. The poor man's wisdom is _____________.

35. Wisdom is better than __________ of ____.

36. Be wise unto ___________.

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 10

Ecclesiastes Chapter 10

(In verses 1-20), Solomon draws together assorted examples of the wisdom he has both scrutinized and touted.

Ecclesiastes "10:1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: [so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom [and] honor."

Folly in this verse, means silliness, or foolishness. We know that anything dead, has a bad odor. For the flies to be dead where perfume (apothecary) was, is worse. When a person expected sweet odor of perfume, they smelled dead flies.

What a disappointment. It is also, a disappointment to expect wise sayings to come from someone's mouth, and instead, they speak foolishness. What a disappointment this is.

Just as one would throw out an entire bottle of perfume because of a dead fly in it, so people often reject a prominent man because of one mistake or character flaw.

Ecclesiastes 10:2 "A wise man's heart [is] at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left."

"Right ... left": This proverb is based on the fact that, commonly, the right hand is more skillful than the left.

The right side of the body has always symbolized the spiritual side of mankind. The left hand speaks of his earthly nature. A wise man will let his spirit control him, and not his flesh.

Two examples: Jesus sits at the right hand of God; Sheep to the right and goats to the left.

Ecclesiastes 10:3 "Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth [him], and he saith to every one [that] he [is] a fool."

When the fool stays at home, no one realizes his foolishness. But when he goes out into the world, everyone he comes in contact with, knows he is a fool.

A person lacking wisdom will manifest that in daily conduct.

Ecclesiastes 10:4 "If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences."

This is just saying, be wise and do not answer back to the ruler. Just quietly accept what he says, and it will pass over.

Ecclesiastes 10:5 "There is an evil [which] I have seen under the sun, as an error [which] proceedeth from the ruler:"

Again, we see the expression "under the sun". We remember that this is speaking of those who are living on the earth. We will take note here, that Solomon sees that the ruler is not always right. He makes errors too, as he is human.

It is a great and far-reaching evil when leaders make bad judgments.

Ecclesiastes 10:6 "Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place."

Sometimes, a ruler will choose a foolish person for very high office, and that is a mistake. Perhaps, the person is a relative, friend, or someone he owes a favor. None of those reasons are correct for choosing a leader. In this, the king has acted foolishly.

Life presents some strange ironies and is not, in this world, always fair.

Ecclesiastes 10:7 "I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth."

To ride on a horse in the manner spoken of here, is speaking of the person being honored. What Solomon could be saying, is there were people being honored, who should not have been, and there were others who should have been honored, who were working as servants.

Ecclesiastes 10:8 "He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall bite him."

This is another way of saying, "Whatever you sow, you will reap".

Psalm 7:15-16 "He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch [which] he made." "His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate."

The hedge mentioned above, is possibly, speaking of the hedge the Lord puts around the faithful. For the hedge to be removed, would bring an attack from that old serpent, the devil.

Ecclesiastes 10:9 "Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; [and] he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby."

Working with large stones can be dangerous, if they roll back on you. Splitting wood can also be very dangerous, to the one who is splitting. The wood separates violently, sometimes, and can hit those standing there.

Everyday activities may result in disasters that no one can predict.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 "If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom [is] profitable to direct."

This is speaking of a knife, or an ax that needs to be sharpened, to make it cut more easily. Whetting the edge sharpens the blade. To cut with a dull ax, or knife, would take much more power, than if it were sharpened.

Wisdom helps us find better ways of doing things. Wisdom helps in practical living. It also helps in the spiritual life of man.

A little wisdom will ease the efforts of life. Even though life's experiences often don't turn out the way one would have hoped. Wise living usually produces a good outcome. This is a very important conclusion for Solomon's testing of wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 10:11 "Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better."

This is saying, the serpent bites without provocation. The babbler here, is speaking of someone who uses his tongue to charm people into doing things his way. The babbler of this kind is just as dangerous as the serpent.

Ecclesiastes 10:12 "The words of a wise man's mouth [are] gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself."

A wise man is careful what he says, and how he says it. His speech is full of grace. His tongue is used to build people up, instead of to tear them down.

A fool talks loud, and says things he has not considered. He destroys others with his speech, and in turn destroys himself.

Man demonstrates wisdom in words as well as works. Foolish words yield unfavorable outcomes.

Ecclesiastes 10:13 "The beginning of the words of his mouth [is] foolishness: and the end of his talk [is] mischievous madness."

The more he talks, the worse it gets. This talk of this foolish person is what they are inside. Their hearts are filled with mischief, and that mischief comes out in their speech. The speech gets worse every time he speaks.

Proverbs 15:2 "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness."

Ecclesiastes 10:14 "A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?"

"Fool", in this verse means a dense, confused thinker. It is so strange, that a person with confused thoughts, talks continuously. Solomon says in this, that no one except God truly knows the future. The answer is no one can tell him. It is enough to live each day as it comes.

Proverbs 15:2 "The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness."

James 4:13-14 "Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:" "Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

Ecclesiastes 10:15 "The labor of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city."

The fool is characterized by incompetent behavior.

The foolish pretends he knows the way to the city, when in fact, he does not. If he does not know the way to the city, he definitely does not know what is to come. The following Scriptures are showing the way to everlasting life.

Matthew 11:28-30: "Come unto me, all [ye] that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." "For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light."

A Proverb for ignorance with regard to the most ordinary matters, which extends even to spiritual realities. If a fool can't find a town, how could he possibly locate God?

Ecclesiastes 10:16 "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king [is] a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!"

The position of king bears with it a great responsibility to rule the people fairly and wisely. A child is not trained. The princes that eat in the morning are speaking of those who sleep late. To be king, you must rise early and rule wisely.

The princes "eating in the morning" could have to do with rising early to start drinking.

Isaiah 5:11 "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, [that] they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, [till] wine inflame them!"

Ecclesiastes 10:17 "Blessed [art] thou, O land, when thy king [is] the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!"

This is saying that the king is a son of people of noble character. They do not get up early to drink, but to eat for strength. A king that was drunk could not lead his people properly. The people are blessed when their king is of noble character, and is not a drunkard.

Proverbs 31:4-5 "[It is] not for kings, O Lemuel, [it is] not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:" "Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted."

Ecclesiastes 10:18 "By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through."

All buildings require a certain amount of care. If they are not cared for, they will fall into ruin and decay. "Slothfulness" is speaking of laziness. This is still speaking of kings, or rulers. It is even worse for them to be lazy. The king leads the country. The leader must set an example for others to follow.

This is likely an analogy for the kingdom of a lazy monarch.

Proverbs 10:4 "He becometh poor that dealeth [with] a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."

Proverbs 12:24 "The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute."

Ecclesiastes 10:19 "A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all [things]."

The partying king (of verse 18), thinks he can fix all the disasters of his inept reign by raising taxes.

We must remember, once again, that Solomon is speaking of the things the way they are on the earth. This is speaking of kings, who have neglected their office. They are spending their time laughing and drinking.

On this earth, there is need for money. Without money, you cannot pay the rent, or the utilities. You need money for food, and for Dr. bills.

Having enough money to live on helps in your marriage, as well. The love of money is sin. To work and make enough money to provide for your family is honorable. The king is actually provider for all of his people. It is doubly important that he stays sober, and provides for his people.

Ecclesiastes 10:20 "Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter."

Careless words have a way of being discovered by those in authority.

Some people curse whoever is in office. Solomon is saying here, it is dangerous to curse the one who rules over you. Even if you curse him in privacy, someone might hear, and tell him. In the days of the kings, this could cost you your head.

It is also wrong to curse the rich. Someone will tell what you have said, and then, you will be in trouble. Jesus says it best in the following Scriptures.

Luke 12:2-3 "For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known." "Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."

Here is one more Scripture on the matter.

Acts 23:5 "Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the High Priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people."

Ecclesiastes Chapter 10 Questions

1. What does folly in verse 1 mean?

2. What does "apothecary" mean?

3. When they were expecting to smell the sweet odor of perfume, they smelled what?

4. A wise man's heart is at his _________ hand.

5. When a fool stays at ___________, no one realizes his foolishness.

6. What is meant by verse 4?

7. What does "under the sun" indicate?

8. Why would a king choose a foolish person for high office?

9. I have seen servants upon ___________.

10. What did this usually show?

11. What was Solomon really saying in this?

12. Verse 8 is another way of saying what?

13. If the hedge were removed, what might happen?

14. What dangers are spoken of in verse 9?

15. What is verse 10 speaking of?

16. _________ helps us find better ways of doing things.

17. What is the babbler speaking of in verse 11?

18. How does a wise man speak?

19. How does a fool speak?

20. Why do they speak mischief?

21. Where did Jesus say to come in Matthew 11:28-29.

22. Why is it woe for a child to be king?

23. What is "eating in the morning" speaking of?

24. In verse 17, the princes eat for what?

25. Why is strong drink not for kings and princes?

26. What happens to a building that is neglected?

27. The love of money is ______.

28. Curse not the __________.

29. Thou shalt not speak evil of the _________ of thy people.

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 11

Ecclesiastes Chapter 11

The first six verses contain a series of sayings about the uncertainty of human industry, and are held together by the fourfold occurrence of the expression "thou knowest not". Although man cannot comprehend God's work, nor predict success, he needs to be involved in life's activities and trust God for the results.

Ecclesiastes 11:1 "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days."

"Cast thy bread": Take a calculated and wise step forward in life, like a farmer who throws his seed on the wet or marshy ground and waits for it to grow. (See Isa. 32:20).

"Cast thy bread upon the waters" is speaking of sharing bread with those less fortunate. When you give to those in need, you are giving to God. God will give back to you in such abundance, you will never know need.

Psalms 112:9 "He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honor."

Luke 6:38 "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

Ecclesiastes 11:2 "Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth."

This is expounding on verse 1. It is saying, do not stop by giving one person bread, but give to everyone in need. A person never knows what time he will need help himself. Those who have helped others will be helped themselves.

Psalms 41:1 "Blessed [is] he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble."

Be generous while there is plenty, and make friends while time remains, because one never knows when he might need them to return the favor.

The world is full of things over which one has no control including the purposes of God. There is no virtue in wishful wondering, but there is hope for those who get busy and do their work.

Ecclesiastes 11:3 "If the clouds be full of rain, they empty [themselves] upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be."

Some things are inevitable. The clouds being full and pouring rain is natural, the tree falling is not under our control either. This is just saying that life is uncertain.

We do not know when troubles will come. We must be thoughtful of others in trouble, and then, God will take care of us in our trouble. Trouble is inevitable. It comes to everyone sometime. We must learn to accept things the way they are.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 "He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap."

This is speaking of someone who makes excuses for not doing things.

Just because the wind is blowing, is no reason not to sow. The idea is to find a way to sow in the wind, not to make excuses why you cannot sow.

The very same thing is true regarding reaping. There are a thousand excuses that could be made why you cannot reap, but that will not bring in the crops. No one will benefit from the crop then.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 "As thou knowest not what [is] the way of the spirit, [nor] how the bones [do grow] in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all."

These are speaking of some of the mysteries of God. The spirit is like the wind. The wind blows, and we enjoy the freshness of the air, but we cannot see it, or describe it.

The bones in the mother's womb is another mystery that truly only God knows. God is the Creator of life. Every time a baby is born, we know that God has not given up on mankind. Somehow, mothers and daddies are coupled with God in the process of creating this new life.

Man and woman are the instruments God chooses to create life through. That is one really good reason that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle. Sex occurs to create life. Two men cannot create. For men to sleep with men is against nature. The same is true with two women.

The natural thing is for a man and a woman to sleep together and pro-create life with God. We do not understand the process. We just know that is the way God made things.

Ecclesiastes 11:6 "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both [shall be] alike good."

Generally, early in the morning, the wind is not blowing. You also, are fresh and energetic in the morning. You have more energy to work. This is not just speaking of farming, but is speaking of all who have work to do.

Do not be lazy, get up and be about your work. It is also saying, do not quit half-way through the job. If the sowing in the morning happens not to take, then the sowing in the evening will. We must put out whatever effort is needed to succeed. We do the work, and it is God who prospers the effort. If both morning and evening efforts prosper, how great that prosperity will be.

(In 11:7 - 12:8), Solomon crystallizes the book's message. Death is imminent and with it comes retribution. Enjoyment and judgment, though strange partners, come together in this section because both clamor for man's deepest commitment. Surprisingly, one does not win out over the other. In a world created for enjoyment but damaged by sin, judgment and enjoyment/pleasure are held in tension. With too much pleasure, judgment stands as a threatening force, with too much judgment, enjoyment suffers. In the final analysis, both are prominent themes of life that are resolved in our relationship to God, the primary issue of life and this book.

Verse 9 can hardly be taken in a hedonistic sense, because the controlling factor in the youth's enjoyment is said to be God's judgment. Rather, it is a warning against a life misspent in self indulgence.

Verse 8 adds a cautionary note to enjoyment that may be summarized in two ideas:

(1) There will be many days of darkness, calamitous day;

(2) All that cometh is vanity: That is, joys will not come easily; they must be wrested from a puzzling and futile life.

In verses 7-10 once again the exhortation to enjoyment is put in the imperative mood. Here the appeal is particularly addressed to the youth to admonish him to enjoy life before the onset of the feeble years described (in chapter 12 verses 1-7). The comparison with light (verse 7), speaks of the enjoyment of life.

Ecclesiastes 11:7 "Truly the light [is] sweet, and a pleasant [thing it is] for the eyes to behold the sun:"

Light, in this sense, could be also speaking of life.

We do know that all believers are children of the Light. We are not in darkness. Very little can be accomplished in the dark. After the night is passed and the sun comes up in the morning, it is very pleasant. The darkest time is just before the sun comes up.

1 John 1:5 "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."

1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

Good times in contrast to "darkness" (verse 8, meaning bad times (12:1).

Ecclesiastes 11:8 "But if a man live many years, [and] rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh [is] vanity."

The time of darkness, spoken of here, is speaking of tribulation that comes upon all men. It is not the amount of trouble we have that makes us what we are. It is our attitude toward that darkness.

We must use that time of darkness to make us better appreciate the Light. The time of darkness makes us remember how wonderful the Light is. If we had light all the time, we would not appreciate the Light.

There is physical darkness, and there is spiritual darkness. I believe this Scripture is speaking of both. Solomon again, feels that man has little control over the times of darkness and light. He does have control of his own attitude about that darkness.

Ecclesiastes 11:9 "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these [things] God will bring thee into judgment."

In the book of Proverbs, Solomon went into great detail about the conduct of a young man. He explained that his mother and father had taught him well in this matter. Young people are supposed to enjoy their youth, but they are also, apt to get themselves in trouble.

They must control their desires, to avoid sinning against God. Youth do not have the problems that older people do. Older people are already in the process of making a living and meeting the bills for the family. Youth, who follows the call of his flesh, will bring himself into the judgment of God, because of the sins he commits.

It is best to let the Spirit of God teach and direct your life from an early age, to avoid much sin.

"Rejoice ... Judgment", the two terms seem to cancel out the other. How can this be explained? Enjoy life but do not commit iniquity. The balance that is called for insures that enjoyment is not reckless, sinful abandonment. Pleasure is experienced in faith and obedience, for as Solomon has said repeatedly, one can only receive true satisfaction as a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 11:10 "Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth [are] vanity.

Children and youth make a lot of mistakes. They are not trained in the school of experience.

Enjoy childhood and youth while you can because they are fleeting and are soon gone.

2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

1 Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

As never before, the youth of our generation should follow after their spirit, and not their flesh. Lust of the flesh is not only sin in the sight of God, but today can also, get you exposed to A.I.D.S. In this sense, the warning above is physical, as well as spiritual.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 11 Questions

1. Cast thy bread upon the ___________.

2. What does that expression mean?

3. When you give to those in need, you are giving to _______.

4. What is verse 2 saying?

5. What causes the clouds, full of rain, to empty themselves upon the earth?

6. Who is verse 4 describing?

7. The spirit, in verse 5, is like the _______

8. The things mentioned in verse 5, are ____________ of God.

9. ________ is the Creator of life.

10. What do we realize every time a new baby is born?

11. Sex occurs to _________ ______.

12. Two men having personal relations is ___________.

13. Verse 6 says, sow _________ in the __________.

14. Do not _________ half-way through the job.

15. In verse 7, the light is spoken of as being ________.

16. It could also, be speaking of what?

17. Why is it necessary to have darkness?

18. What book, in the Bible, is about the conduct of the young man?

19. The youth that follows his flesh has what happen?

20. Why do the youth make so many mistakes?

21. What are some of the dangers today, that go with lust of the flesh?

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu

Ecclesiastes 12

Ecclesiastes Chapter 12

Verses 1-7: Describe old age and are actually addressed to the youth (verse 1). The gradual darkening of the heavenly bodies represents declining vitality and joy. The approaching clouds represent the storms of old age (verse 2). The keepers of the house are the arms; the strong men are the legs; the grinders are the teeth; and those that look out of the windows are the eyes (verse 3). Growing old is further compared to the decline of a great estate (verse 4).

The almond tree is a reference to the white hair of old age; the crippled grasshopper pictures the halting gait of the elderly; and desire that fails many be the loss of sexual desire (verse 5). Finally, life itself in all its preciousness is cut off. Death is pictured as the irreversible shattering of a golden bowl when cut from the end of a silver cord and the similar smashing of a pitcher or wheel (verse 6). After death, the spirit returns to God for judgment and the body returns to dust.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;"

We were discussing the problems of youth in the last lesson. Now Solomon is bringing answers for those problems.

Remember you are God's property, so serve Him from the start of your years, not the end of your years, when service is very limited.

The earlier a person comes to the Lord, the fewer problems he, or she, will have. Sometimes, I believe it is easier for the youth to come to the Lord. The average age of those who come to Christ in America today is 16.

My own personal view is that as soon as a person is aware of sin, he is old enough to consider Jesus as his Savior. For some, it is very early. Some people are old before they realize their need for a Savior. The age that you come is unimportant, if you are sincere.

When a person comes to the Lord at an early age, the Lord helps him through those difficult years, when the lust of the flesh is so great. God left us a roadmap to get to heaven with. It is His Bible.

If we study the Bible, we have no difficulty in determining what is sin, and what is not. In our later years, it seems that the lusts connected with youth fade away. In each person's life, there is an end. We all grow old and die.

(In verses 2-6), Solomon uses the imagery of aging, incorporating elements of a dilapidated house, nature and a funeral procession to heighten the emphasis (of 11:7 - 12:1).

Ecclesiastes 12:2 "While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:"

In these last lessons Solomon has used the expression "under the sun". Perhaps this is speaking (in verse 2), of the time when life is no more. In the later part of our lives, the sun and all other natural lights are dimmed to us. Our vision is not as good, as it was in our youth.

Youth is typically the time of dawning light, old age the time of twilight's gloom.

Ecclesiastes 12:3 "In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,"

All of this is describing the later years of a person's natural life. The strongest man will be bowed, if he lives long enough. The tremble could be for weakness, or for fear of his last days.

The hands and arms which protect the body, as guards do a palace, shake in old age. The legs, like supporting pillars, weaken. The Grinders are the teeth and those who watch through the windows are the eyes.

In the United States, when a person reaches 65 he stops working every day. He stays at home a great deal, usually and sometimes stands at the window looking out contemplating his past life. It is not as bright as it was in his youth. Life is fading away. His vision becomes weaker as he nears the end of life on this earth.

Ecclesiastes 12:4 "And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low;"

"Doors": Lips that do not have much to say. "Sound of the grinding" refers to little eating, when the sound of masticating is low. "Rise up" indicating light sleep; "daughters of music": The ear and voice that once loved music.

The sounds that go with normal life will not be as loud and distinct as they had been, because the hearing is gone. This speaks, also, of a time when the person, who is aged, does not desire the music and parties that went with youth.

Ecclesiastes 12:5 "Also [when] they shall be afraid of [that which is] high, and fears [shall be] in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:"

The aged become fearful of heights. They are not as sure of themselves, as they were in their youth. There is fear of falling and breaking something. We do not mend as quickly as we did in our youth. Fear is not the only reason. Our strength is not what it was when we were young.

Fear, in the verse above, is speaking of a time when we are not as self-confident as we were in our youth. The almond tree blooms turn from pink to white when the season is about over. This, probably, symbolizes the grey hair that goes with age. The grasshopper is associated with pestilence. Even the lowly grasshopper becomes a problem, when we are old.

"Desire" is speaking of the lusts of youth which fade away with age. Man "goeth to his long home" is speaking of heaven. The mourners are there, because the time of his funeral is near.

(Verses 6 and 7), are speaking of death.

Ecclesiastes 12:6 "Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern."

The silver "cord being loosed" and the "bowl being broken" is speaking of the life of man being over, or poured out. Age has cut him off from life. The water of life, now, does not flow.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

The flesh of man returns to the dust.

Solomon recalls (Gen. 2:7 and 3:19), as he contemplates the end of the aging process. The sage ends his message with the culmination of a human life.

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away" (Job 1:21; 1 Tim. 6:7).

Genesis 3:19 "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return."

The life within the flesh is the spirit of man. It lives on.

Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

1 Corinthians 15:44 "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

The spiritual body rises to heaven.

This gloomy picture of old age does not negate the truth that old age can be blessed for the godly (Proverb 16:31), but it does remind the young that they will not have the ability to enjoy that blessing of a godly old age and a life of strong service to God if they do not remember their Creator while young (verse 1).

Ecclesiastes 12:8 "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all [is] vanity."

Solomon is speaking of the natural side of life being vanity. Solomon sees the frailty of mortal things. What is born of the flesh is flesh. Flesh returns to dirt, or nothing.

Solomon is described as a wise man who taught what is upright and true, not as a cynic, pessimist, skeptic, and so on. From one shepherd, who is God, is the origin of the book's teaching.

Ecclesiastes 12:9 "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, [and] set in order many proverbs."

The wisdom of Solomon was for him to judge his people justly. He used proverbs and parables to teach the people how to lead a better life upon the earth. His goal was to help his people. He has certainly done that, and in so doing taught us as well.

1 Kings 4:32 "And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five."

(In verses 9-14), come Solomon's final words of advice.

Ecclesiastes 12:10 "The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and [that which was] written [was] upright, [even] words of truth."

Solomon was committed to the truth. The words he brought were not his own, they were placed into his mind by God, when he received the gift of wisdom.

1 Kings 4:29-30 "And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that [is] on the sea shore." "And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt."

His wisdom was not of this world, it was a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 12:11 "The words of the wise [are] as goads, and as nails fastened [by] the masters of assemblies, [which] are given from one shepherd."

"Goads ... as nails": Two shepherd's tools are in view: one used to motivate reluctant animals, the other to secure those who might otherwise wander into dangerous territory. Both goads and nails picture aspects of applied wisdom.

"One Shepherd": True wisdom has its source in God alone.

God has not answered every problem of life, but He has commanded man to live joyfully, responsibly, and wisely. Finally, the controlling factor of all of life should be the fear of God, that is, submission to God and His revelation. The certainty of divine judgment demands it.

Proverbs 1:7: "The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction".

Solomon's final word on the issues raised in this book, as well as life itself, focus on one's relationship to God. All of the concern for a life under the sun, with its pleasures and uncertainties, was behind Solomon. Such things seemed comparatively irrelevant to him as he faced the end of his life. But death, in spite of the focused attention he had given to it in Ecclesiastes, was not the greatest equalizer.

Judgment/retribution is the real equalizer as Solomon saw it, for God will bring every person's every act to judgment. Unbelievers will stand at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15), and believers before Christ at the Bema judgment (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-10). When all is said and done, the certainty and finality of retribution give life the meaning for which David's oft-times foolish son had been searching. Whatever might be one's portion in life, accountability to God, whose ways are often mysterious, is both eternal and irrevocable.

Ecclesiastes 12:12 "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books [there is] no end; and much study [is] a weariness of the flesh."

This is very true today. There are hundreds of thousands of books written just on the Bible subjects. There would be literally millions on all subjects. Even these Bible studies will add to that number.

In the flesh, mankind is constantly trying to learn new things in books. All gaining of knowledge takes much work. The continuous study of books becomes wearisome, as we grow older.

But, books written on any other subject other than God's revealed wisdom will only proliferate the uselessness of man's thinking.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man."

Solomon has searched to find the secret of life. He ponders every natural situation that man has experienced. Suddenly, Solomon turns from the natural man to the spirit of man. He finds the answer there. The only solution to any problem we have is in God. The secret to a truly successful life is to fear God and keep His commandments.

Jesus summed it up like this.

Mark 12:30-31 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment." "And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

Ecclesiastes 12:14 "For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil."

Let me give a few Scriptures for us to ponder on this last statement Solomon makes here.

Matthew 12:36 "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."

John 5:22 "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:"

John 5:25-29 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." "For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;" "And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice," "And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

Revelation 20:15 "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Ecclesiastes Chapter 12 Questions

1. Remember now thy ___________ in the days of thy youth.

2. Why is it important to come to the Lord early in life?

3. What is the average age of those who come to Christ in America?

4. When does the author believe a person is old enough to come to the Lord?

5. In each person's life, there is an ______.

6. What is verse 2 speaking of?

7. Verse 3 is speaking of the _________ years of the natural life of man.

8. Who will be bowed?

9. What is the trembling from?

10. Why is it not as bright in old age, as it was in youth?

11. Verse 4 speaks of impaired ________.

12. The aged become fearful of _________.

13. Why is this so?

14. What is "desire", in verse 5, speaking of?

15. What does the "bowl broken" symbolize?

16. The flesh of man returns to the _______.

17. The life within the flesh is the ________ of man.

18. Solomon is speaking of the _________ side of life being vanity.

19. How many proverbs did Solomon speak?

20. Solomon was committed to the _______.

21. What is a "goad"?

22. Who is the "One Shepherd"?

23. What is the conclusion of the whole matter?

24. Which of the Scriptures at the end of this lesson are more exciting to you?

Go to Previous Section | Go to Next Section | Return to Top

Return to Ecclesiastes Menu | Return to Bible Menu