King Solomon, son of King David wrote three books in the Old Testament.  He wrote the Proverbs around 970 BC.  He wrote the Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs, or as the Canticles) around 940 BC.  He wrote the Ecclesiastes around 935 BC.  Although Ecclesiastes appears between the Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes was written after the Song of Solomon.

Let’s begin by reading Ecclesiastes 1:1-3, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?”  In the later years of his life, despite his great wealth and incomparable wisdom, Solomon became discouraged when all his earthly wealth and pleasures could not bring him true happiness.  In these verses, he said that all is vanity under the sun.  Solomon had been exceedingly rich, and his wisdom was known far and wide, yet as he tried to find satisfaction in the world, he was distraught and realized that everything in the world was vanity or empty and unsatisfying.

In fact, many of the things he warned us about not doing in Proverbs and Song of Solomon, he fell into these acts and habits himself.  He wrote in Proverbs 5:20, “And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?”  He also wrote in Proverbs 6:32, “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.”  We also read of Solomon in 1 Kings 11:1-4, “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.”  While Solomon warned the people against going after strange women and committing adultery, we find that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (girlfriends).

The scope of Ecclesiastes is really to show the vanity of all mere human quests for happiness, when earthly happiness is all we are interested in.  This is a book of man “under the sun,” reasoning about life.  It is the best man can do, with the knowledge that there is a holy God, and that He will bring every-thing into judgment.  This book is often regarded as a pessimistic book, but it is really a warning to all to seek our happiness in Christ.  This book sees things from an earthly perspective, which is pessimistic itself.

Ecclesiastes is also a warning to us that we can still fail, even though we have lived a life of following Christ, we are still capable of getting away from the Lord and falling into sin.  We are warned in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”  We see a word of warning even when we seek to minister to others in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  Ecclesiastes is very important for us today.  While losing your salvation is not a possibility, there is a great possibility of losing our closeness with our blessed Lord.  Surely, none of us wants that to happen.  (196.6)