I remember when I first read the book of Ecclesiastes. It was soon after I had made the decision to take my faith seriously and pursue Jesus. I had read through Psalms and Proverbs and then I got to a book I didn’t know too much about. Ecclesiastes. I started to read through chapter one in my morning devotional time and was shocked to discover that the tone of the book was summed up in verse two;
“ ‘Everything is meaningless’ says the Teacher, ‘Completely meaningless’ “ – Ecclesiastes 1:2
By the end of chapter one I had branded Ecclesiastes a ‘negative and depressing’ book, and one that I would not be in a hurry to read again. Maybe you have done the same if you have ever skimmed past Ecclesiastes in the bible. However, God had different ideas, because later on in my walk with Him, I came to read Ecclesiastes again – and now it’s probably one of my favourite books in the Old Testament.
So what do you need to know about Ecclesiastes?
- First of all, it is important to know that there are two people speaking in Ecclesiastes; the narrator and the teacher. The narrator begins and concludes the book of Ecclesiastes and the teacher writes thoughts on what he thinks of ‘life under the sun’, life on Earth.
- Ecclesiastes is classed as one of the books that make up the ‘wisdom literature’ in the bible (Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Job and Ecclesiastes).
- The narrator sums up what the teacher has been saying in Ecclesiastes in chapter 12 verses 13-14;
“That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusions: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing whether good or bad”.
The purpose of Ecclesiastes is to show that you will always be looking for meaning in life if you are apart from knowing God. It is a call for us to live with the purposes of God in mind and to realise that true fulfilment can only be found in Him, since we do not know what will happen in life from one day to the next. It is not meant to be a depressing book; rather the sobering words are simply to encourage us to find the meaning of our lives in God. The teacher says;
“Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear we are not content” – Ecclesiastes 1:8
If you would like to know more about how to find your satisfaction in God, Ecclesiastes is definitely a good place to start. If you want to find out more about Ecclesiastes, then I encourage you to watch this video from The Bible Project