How To Interpret Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes is often seen as the most depressing Book in the Bible. There is a reason why it is so bleak, and unless one understands this reason, he is doomed to misunderstand the majestic theme and beauty of this part of Sacred Writ.

“Under the sun. You will find this important phrase twenty-nine times in Ecclesiastes, and with it the phrase “under heaven” (1: 13; 2: 3; 3: 1). It defines the outlook of the writer as he looks at life from a human perspective and not necessarily from heaven’s point of view. He applies his own wisdom and experience to the complex human situation and tries to make some sense out of life. Solomon wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (12: 10–11; 2 Tim. 3: 16), so what he wrote was what God wanted His people to have. But as we study, we must keep Solomon’s viewpoint in mind: he is examining life “under the sun.” In his Unfolding Message of the Bible, G. Campbell Morgan perfectly summarized Solomon’s outlook: “This man had been living through all these experiences under the sun, concerned with nothing above the sun … until there came a moment in which he had seen the whole of life. And there was something over the sun. It is only as a man takes account of that which is over the sun as well as that which is under the sun that things under the sun are seen in their true light” (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1961, p. 229).” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Satisfied: Looking For The Answer To The Meaning of Life-OT Commentary, Ecclesiastes, 18-19 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, CO; David C Cook)

When you try to find ultimate meaning and lasting joy in life apart from God and His Word, all will be “vanity of vanities.”

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