21: Ecclesiastes: The Book of Disillusionment

“Ecclesiastes” means “one who addresses an assembly; a preacher.” But rather than sermonizing, Solomon presents a philosophical quest for the meaning and purpose of life. The book addresses how to rise above the meaninglessness and frustrations of secular humanism. It is unique because it is written from the perspective of carnal reasoning. Solomon argues that knowledge, fame, power, wealth, labor, and pleasure cannot bring lasting contentment.

In Solomon’s final years, he writes in order that younger men may learn from his vast array of experiences. He contrasts egocentricity with a God-centered life. He discovers all human pursuits and achievements ultimately result in pessimism and frustration.

Powerful statements are made concerning God’s power, sovereignty, and justice. After sharing his observations, reflections, and logic, the author arrives at the only possible conclusion: without a firm relationship with the Lord, life is perplexing and futile. True satisfaction is only found in serving God and following His will.

Essay Questions

1. From 7:1-12 and 9:13-10:15, show the contrasts between wisdom and folly. What are some characteristics of wisdom? What are Solomon’s conclusions regarding wisdom?

2. What are Solomon’s frustrations regarding:
A. The attainment of wisdom (1:12-18)

B. A life lived for pleasure (2:1-3)

C. Wealth and accomplishments (2:4-17)

D. Hard work (2:18-23)

What conclusions does he reach regarding these things?  (2:24-26 and 3:11-22)

3. What is Solomon’s advise concerning submission to authority? (8:1-9)

4. Scan the book for key words and phrases. List the ones that are used most frequently. What conclusions can be drawn from their frequent use?

5. “Apart from a relationship with the Lord, life is not worth living.” Share your views regarding this statement. Is this sentence an accurate summation of the book of Ecclesiastes?

6. According to Philippians 4:4, what is the key for enjoying life?

7. What can be learned in one’s final years that cannot be learned when one is younger?  What advice does Solomon have for young people? (11:7-12:7)

8. What is Solomon’s ultimate conclusion and final solution? (12:9-14).


Maxim of the Moment

Success is getting up one more time than the number of times you fall down. - Julie Bowden