Ecclesiastes: Search for Meaning

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Search for Meaning

Futility of life, False advantages in life, True advantages in life.

Background: Written by Solomon concerning his own search for the meaning of life
Theme: The futility of life "under the sun"
Outline: Introduction, Limits of Human Effort, Limits of Human Wisdom, Conclusion
Key Verse: "... Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." (Eccles 12:13-14, NIV)

Ecclesiastes Index


The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Vol I, Old Testament) is an excellent resource and is referred to as the BKC.


Authorship: Without strong evidence to the contrary, it is simplest and best to accept Solomon as the author. Reasons once given on the basis of language development have been shown to be inconclusive.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary prefaces: "He was a believer who sought to destroy people's confidence in their own efforts, their own abilities, their own righteousness and direct them to faith in God as the only possible basis for mening, value, and significance to life 'under the sun'."

I. Introduction (1:1-11)

II. Futility of Human Efforts (1:12-6:9)

3:14-15 The understanding that God is consistent, that events occur in an orderly fashion, and that identical actions have identical reactions, is the basis of Western engineering and science. Our scientific and mechanical advances would not have taken place with a mystic world view in which cause and effect are arbitrary.

3:16 Injustice even in the court. A modern example may be the Supreme Court upholding a woman's right to chose an abortion over an unborn's right to live, even to the extent of so-called 'partial birth' abortions.

4:9-12 Companionship is also helpful in our endeavors for the Lord. We should not try to live in isolation from our Christian family, the local church, but develop at least one or two close friendships in the Lord.

5:10-12 My daughter has learned how material wealth brings cares - with the gift of a car came insurance bills, an always emptying gas tank, and unexpected repairs.

III. Futility of Human Wisdom (:10-11:6)

7:16-18 I agree with the translation of both rather than all. This verse is often misapplied.

7:20-22 These verses point out the need for a redeemer apart from ourselves. No human is good enough for his whole life to merit God's favor and deserve an eternal home in heaven. For this reason we depend upon Jesus and His death on the cross as the way our sins may be dealt with. Even the best of people around us sin and need forgiveness through Jesus.

7:29 Sin is not in any way God's fault. How often we hear the excuse, "God made me this way!". This is unacceptable as an excuse for laziness, greed, drunkeness, sexual immorality, and even homosexual practice. The only acceptable response is, "I have sinned, forgive me and help me, O Lord!"

8:10-12a Still true today. Many are dissatisfied with the legal system, delays in punishment, and perceptions of unfair advantages given to some under the law.

10:18-20 "Money is the answer for everything." This is only what the rulers think, and unfortunately this thought was not limited to ancient kings. This answer is used by national, state and local governments, as well as civic organizations of all kinds throughout the modern world.

IV. Conclusion (11:7-12:14)

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Updated March 2012

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