1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3 What profit does a man have of all his labor that he does under the sun? 4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the earth remains forever.
- Ecclesiastes records Solomon’s search for the meaning and purpose of life.
- God gave Solomon more wisdom, wealth, and power than any man on earth. It didn’t make him happy.
- His conclusion was that all is emptiness or for nothing, all is for vain pride.
5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hurries to his place where it rose. 6 The wind goes toward the south, and turns about to the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to his circuits. 7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; to the place from where the rivers come, there they return again.
- Solomon’s simple descriptions of earth’s sun, wind, and water systems (stated in 977 BC, before man had ‘scientific’ knowledge of these things) have proven to be perfectly accurate.
8 All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
- Physical things cannot satisfy man for very long.
- Man is made in God’s image.
- And God alone truly satisfies the heart of man.
- We were made by Him and for Him.
- Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
- John 4:14 But whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst; but the water that I give him will be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
9 The thing that has been, it is that which will be; and that which is done is that which will be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing of which it may be said, See, this is new? It has been already of old time, which was before us.
- The ‘time before us’ refers to the civilization that was destroyed by the flood in the days of Noah.
- If we have developed nuclear energy and cloning couldn’t it be possible that they also did? Wouldn't it be arrogant to think otherwise?
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither will there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that will come after. 12 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail God has given to the sons of man to be exercised with.
- The word ‘exercised’ means to be humbled. At the fall, man’s focus became himself rather than His Maker. Self-centeredness is pride. The labor that God gave man was to humble man and show him his need of his Creator. Labor exorcises evil or removes evil from our hearts.
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is lacking cannot be numbered. 16 I communed with my own heart, saying, Look, I have come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all those that have been before me in Jerusalem: yes, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. 17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.
- Jesus gives us the peace that passes all understanding.
- It is the peace of the One who has all the power and therefore controls all things.
- Nothing can touch you that He doesn’t allow. Whatever He allows is for your benefit and blessing.
- Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all those that do his commandments: his praise endures forever.
- John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled; do let it be afraid.
1 I said in my heart, Come now, I will test you with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and behold, this too is vanity. 2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of glee, What does it accomplish? 3 I sought in my heart to give myself to wine, yet acquainting my heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, until I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under the heaven all the days of their life.
- Solomon tested the value of pleasure.
- The Hebrew of ‘give myself to wine’ is ‘drag the flesh’ with wine.
- Wine slows down the whole body. It drags the flesh.
- The satisfaction provided by partying and ‘good times’ is fleeting and leaves our hearts empty and the body tired.
- Solomon was ruler of God’s people. He searched to find what was good for people.
4 I made me great works; I built houses for myself; I planted vineyards for myself: 5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: 6 I made irrigation pools to water the forest. 7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of herds and flocks above all that were in Jerusalem before me: 8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the special treasure of kings and of the provinces: I got men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men—many concubines. 9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.
- All that Solomon had was from God.
- 1 Kings 11:30 tells us that Solomon had 700 concubines and 300 wives.
- 1Kings 3:11 And God said to him, Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life; neither have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies; but have asked for yourself understanding to discern judgment; 12 Behold, I have done according to your words: behold, I have given you a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like you before you, neither after you will any arise like you. 13 And I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.
10 And whatever my eyes desired I kept not from them, I did not withhold my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my portion of all my labor. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done, and on the labor that I had worked to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
- Nothing satisfied Solomon’s heart for very long.
- That is because God made us for Himself and He is infinite and eternal.
- We can search out God all of our lives and throughout eternity and always find some new thrilling wonder about God.
- In Deuteronomy 17:18, 19 Israel’s king was told by God to write himself a copy of God’s word and read in it all the days of his life so that he might do what pleases God.
- Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life: in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
- Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that comes after the king? Even that what been already done. 13 Then I saw that there is an excellence in wisdom more than in folly as far as light is more excellent than darkness. 14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walks in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happens to them all. 15 Then said I in my heart, As it happens to the fool, so it happens even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. 16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool forever; because that which now is will all be forgotten in the days to come. And how does the wise die better than the fool?
- John 10:28 And I give to them eternal life; and they will never perish, neither can any man pluck them out of my hand.
God uses the emptiness of life to test the hearts of man
17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is done under the sun is grievous to me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
- Isaiah 30:28 And his breath, as an overflowing stream, will reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity.
18 Yes, I hated all my labor that I had taken under the sun: because I would leave it to the man that will be after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I have labored, and in which I have showed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. 20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labor which I took under the sun. 21 For there is a man whose labor is in wisdom, in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that has not labored in it he will leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 For what does a man have of all his labor, and of the vexation of his heart, in which he has labored under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yes, his heart does not take rest in the night. This is also vanity.
- Jesus taught a simple way to avoid this problem.
- Solomon didn’t have to leave all his wealth to his heirs.
- He could transfer some of his hard work into eternal accounts.
- Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell that you have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags that do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens does not fail, where no thief approaches, neither moth corrupts. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
God gives the ability to enjoy to those good in His sight
24 There is nothing better for a man, than for a man to eat and drink, and to make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? 26 For God gives to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he gives 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.
- Good in God’s sight is different than good in man’s sight.
- Man’s good is self-righteous and leaves out God.
- Good in God’s sight begins with acknowledging our Maker, His Son, and obeying what He says by faith.
- Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteous nesses are as menstrual rags; and we all fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
- Romans 4:3 Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
- Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God…
- Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe…
- Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God has appointed a time for everything
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 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; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
- Matthew 10:30 tells us ‘the very hairs of your head are all numbered.’
- God’s appointed times takes into account all the facts because He knows everything (1 John 3:20).
- Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things in it, since that he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, since he gives to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the boundaries of their dwelling; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after him, and find him, though he is not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being…
He made everything beautiful in His time
9 What profit is there to the laborer in that which he labors? 10 I have seen the travail, which God has given to the sons of men to be humbled by. 11 He has made everything beautiful in his time: He has put eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. 13 And also to eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.
- The profit of labor is that it humbles man’s heart.
- Man lifted himself up against God at the fall.
- That pride is the fallen nature of man.
- Job 5:9 Who does great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number:
What God does lasts forever
14I know that, whatever God does, it will be forever: nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it: and God does it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which has been is now; and that which is to be has already been; and God searches out what is past. 16 Moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
God will judge the righteous and the wicked
17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. 18 I said in my heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might show them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. 19 For what happens to the sons of men happens beasts; one thing happens to them: as the one dies, so dies the other; yes, they have all one breath; so that a man has no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
- Jude 1:14 … the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
- John 5:22 For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son:
- Job 33:4 The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty has given me life.
- Job 12:10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
20 All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knows the spirit of man that goes upward, and the spirit of the beast that goes downward to the earth? 22 Therefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than for a man to rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who will bring him to see what will be after him?
- Solomon gave some false impressions.
- The body becomes dust.
- The spirit goes back to God who gave it.
- Also God has revealed truth from the beginning.
- 2Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
- Isaiah 41:26 Who has declared from the beginning, that we may know? And beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous.
- Psalm 115:18 But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.
1 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of those that were oppressed. They had no comforter; and there was power on the side of their oppressors; but they had no comforter.
- God uses oppression to open mans ears so that man will listen to God. Man does have a comforter who is always near.
- Job 36:15 He delivers the poor in his affliction, and opens their ears in oppression.
- 2Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
- Acts 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being…
2 So I praised the dead that are already dead more than the living that are still alive. 3 Yes, better is he than both of them, who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun. 4 Again, I considered every labor, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
- John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, I give unto you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
5 The fool folds his hands together, and eats his own flesh. 6 Better is a handful with quietness, than both fists filled with labor and chasing the wind. 7 Then I returned, and saw vanity under the sun. 8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yes, he has neither child nor brother: yet there is no end of all his labor; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither does he ask, For whom do I labor, and deprive my soul of pleasure? This is also vanity; yes, it is an evil task.
- The Lord has told us what can be done that is not empty and will profit forever.
- Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said to him, One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he does not have another to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they will be warm: but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one prevails against him, two will withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
- The trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—the all powerful Ones, are a threefold cord that cannot be broken.
- 2Corinthians 1:21 Now he that establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God; 22 Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
13 Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. 14 For out of prison he comes to reign; although in his kingdom he was born poor. 15 I considered all the living that walk under the sun, with the second child that will stand up in his place. 16 There is no end of all the people, or of all that have been before them: they also that come after will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
- Isaiah 41:4 Who has performed and accomplished it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they do not consider that they do evil. 2 Do not be hasty with your mouth, and do not let your heart be impulsive to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and you are on earth: therefore let your words be few. 3 Just as being too busy gives you nightmares, being a fool makes you a blabbermouth.
- God wants us to listen to Him.
- The forces of evil like to keep Christians to busy doing things for Christ that they do not have time to be with Christ (Revelation 2:4).
- Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man does not live in bread alone, but in every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
God has no pleasure in fools
4 When you vow a vow to God, do not hesitate to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools: pay what you have vowed. 5 It is better not to vow, than to vow and not pay. 6 Do not allow your mouth to cause your flesh to sin; nor say before the angel that it was an error: why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the many dreams and many words there is emptiness: but revere God. 8 If you see the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, do not be bewildered at the matter: for a high one over a high one is observing; and high ones over them. 9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.
- Jeremiah 32:19 Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for your eyes are open on all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:
- Job 36:15 He delivers the poor in his affliction, and opens their ears in oppression.
10 He that loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loves abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
- To love the things of life more than the giver of life is out of balance and cannot satisfy.
- Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment.
11 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to its owners, except the beholding of them with their eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep. 13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun, that is, riches being horded for its owners to their hurt. 14 But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begets a son, and there is nothing in his hand. 15 As he came out of his mother’s womb, naked he will return to go as he came, and will take nothing of his labor, which he may carry away in his hand. 16 And this also is a grievous evil, that in all points as he came, so he go will: and what profit does he have that has labored for the wind?
- When we leave this life we will only carry away with us what is in our heart.
- But we can send something on ahead of us. We can invest in eternity.
- Luke 18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said to him, you still lack one thing: sell all that you have, and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
17 All his days he eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and wrath with his sickness. 18 Behold what 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 takes under the sun all the days of his life, which God gives him: for it is his portion. 19 Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat of it, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life; because God answers him in the joy of his heart.
- Psalm 16:11 … in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
God gives riches, honor, and wealth and the ability to enjoy it
1 It is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: 2 A man to whom God has given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he lacks nothing for his soul of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a stranger eats it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. 3 If a man beget 100 children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul is not filled with good, and also he has no burial; I say that an untimely birth is better than he. 4 For he comes in with vanity, and departs in darkness, and his name will be covered with darkness. 5 Moreover he has not seen the sun or known anything: this one has more rest than the other. 6 Yes, though he lives 2000 years, yet he has seen no good: do not all go to one place?
- 2Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
- Revelation 20:15 And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
- Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.
7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the soul is not filled. 8 For what has the wise more than the fool? What has the poor, that knows to walk before the living? 9 Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the soul: this also is vanity and vexation of spirit. 10 Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is: and he is not able to contend with Him who prevails over him. 11 For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a man? 12 For who knows what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life that he spends as a shadow? For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?
- Is it not foolish to contend with the Maker of heaven and earth?
- A wise man seeks God and receives the gift of eternal life.
- John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me will never hunger; and he that believes on me will never thirst.
SUMMARY: Ecclesiastes 1-6
- God uses the emptiness of life to test the hearts of man
- God gives the ability to enjoy to those good in His sight
- God has appointed a time for everything
- He made everything beautiful in His time
- What God does lasts forever
- God will judge the righteous and the wicked
- God has no pleasure in fools