The Book of Ecclesiastes

James H. Cagle
pastorjameshcagle@yahoo.com

 
The Bible says, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecc.1: 1).
 
Solomon is the author of the book of Ecclesiastes. He refers to himself as “the Preacher” and uses the word “preacher” seven times in this book.
 
Solomon’s use of the word “preacher” is as one who “assembles.” The word “Ecclesiastes” means “assembly” or “one who assembles.”
 
This can be taken to mean either, “one who collects wise sayings” (cf. 12: 9, 10), or “one who addresses an assembly,” that is , a preacher or speaker, the implication being that one assembles a group for the purpose of addressing it.
 
Ecclesiastes was written in Solomon’s latter years. He finished it approximately two years before his death in 965 B. C.
 
Solomon also wrote Song of Solomon and for the most part the book of Proverbs. In Song of Solomon, Solomon is portrayed as a young man, passionate but pure. In Proverbs, as a middle-aged man, who is practical and prudent. In Ecclesiastes, as a man close to the end of life, who is filled with the weariness of life and sees all things “under the sun” as vanity of vanities, but rightfully concludes that man’s duty is to fear God (12: 13, 14).
 
A drastic change in Solomon’s outlook on life occurs between the time that he writes Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. In Song of Solomon he was full of life and love and was just beginning his life’s work. In Ecclesiastes he said that he “hated life” and all his life’s work (Ecc. 2: 17, 18).
 
The change in Solomon’s outlook on life came as a result of his heart being turned away from God by his idolatrous (1 Kgs. 11) wives and his disobedience to God’s commands (Deut. 17: 14-17).
 
We see in Ecclesiastes that Solomon tried everything to find solid happiness after turning his heart away from God, the true source of real happiness. He uses the phrase “vanity of vanities” some 38 times, because all his pursuits for happiness apart from God were like the grasping of the wind.
 
Solomon tried human wisdom and philosophy (1: 16-18), pleasure (2: 1-3, 8:15), wine (2: 3), work (2: 4), creating his own secular Eden (2:4-7), sex (1 Kgs. 11: 3), great wealth and music (2:7, 8) to find fulfillment, purpose and meaning to life. All the same things men are trying today to find happiness.
 
Ecclesiastes is written “To convince men of the uselessness of any world view which does not rise above the horizon of man himself. It pronounces the verdict of ‘vanity of vanities’ upon any philosophy of life which regards the created world of human enjoyment as an end in life.”
 
It would be good to note that Solomon was wealthy enough to buy anything he deemed necessary to complete his experiment and make him happy.
 
In spite of Solomon’s experiment and its result’s men today are spending their time and money it seems to prove Solomon wrong. But no one has yet nor ever will come up with different results from these experiments than what Solomon did.
 
 
Laid Full Length
 
Sunlight is born and grows from the east,
And its rays are buried in the west;
So man is born and tries, before death,
To accomplish his life purpose and quest.
Sons of men climb upward now,
Like the sun through its arch in the sky;
Ascending to their highest peak,
For earthly merits, they know not why.
As the sun descends and darkness falls,
So doth man’s glory and strength;
Success or failure, at sunset of life,
They’re buried ‘neath shadows full length.
The womb of the earth is ripped open wide,
And the remains of man laid inside.
Through years the earth reclaims the dust,
That before was animated and dignified.
From dust to dust and ashes to ashes,
The circle of life slowly comes around.
As naked man came so naked man leaves,
When he’s laid full length in the ground.
When he danced about in all his glory,
He may or may not have thought of that day,
When he would die and his remains be laid,
Full length, as his soul was taken away.
Taken away to Heaven or Hell,
Taken away in weakness and strength,
Taken away to shame or reward,
When all his remains are laid full length.
When all that remains are man’s remains,
And what remains to be said are memories.
Our memories are what remain of the man,
And may or may not help our pain to ease.
Tall or short, wide or thin, deep or shallow,
Man’s grave will vary in width and length.
Three score and ten may be our years, –
Yet ev’ry man’s life will vary in length.
But finally will come the end at last,
And gone will be our glory and strength.
Our soul passes on then beyond the dark veil,
As our body is laid ‘neath the shadows full length.
James H. Cagle

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