Question: What can we learn from Ecclesiastes?

    Answer: Someone has remarked that without knowledge of the book of Ecclesiastes, one is not truly wise.

    Some basic facts about the Book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is spiritually, morally, and intellectually challenging and rewarding. The writer not only wrote by inspiration, but also had himself experienced what he taught. The author, apparently Solomon, had sought fulfillment in secular knowledge, physical pleasure, architecture, agriculture, and materialism (Eccl. 1: 16-18; 2: 1-3; 2: 4; 2: 4-6; 2: 7-10). His quests had been extraordinary but still not the answer to true success (Eccl. 1: 16, 2: 7, 9, 10). He said such is "vanity and vexation of spirit" (Eccl. 1: 14, 2: 11). Some have thought the book is pessimistic, however, we must understand that he writes about the comparative futility of the secular (without God). Some even view the author as a materialist, no life after this life (cp. Eccl. 9: 10). Again, we must realize that he wrote about matters pertaining to this life (see "under the sun," Eccl. 9: 5, 6). This book of wisdom teaches life after this life, be assured (Eccl. 12: 7).

    Division of Ecclesiastes. The book seems to be naturally divided as follows: Part 1 (1: 12-6: 12) pertains to the evidence of the vanity of physical things; Part 2 (7: 1-12: 8) contains deduced truths and conclusions from the evidential presentation of the first section; and Part 3 (12: 9-14) the epilogue.

    Even though the book is ancient, the lessons are timeless. The often inequities of life (Eccl. 2: 18-21, 3: 16, 7: 15, 8: 14, 9: 13-18) and the fact that we cannot know the future are plainly taught (Eccl. 10: 14, 3: 22, 6: 12, 8: 7, 9: 12, 11: 5). The message is to enjoy life, based on the true understanding of life (Eccl. 2: 14, 3: 12, 5: 18, 8: 15, 11: 9). "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man" (Eccl. 12: 13, 14).

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