Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon approximately 935 B.C. late in his life. He looks back on his life, much of which was apart from God. In this profound book, Solomon takes the reader on a journey through his life, and he explains how everything he tried, tested or tasted was vanity – useless, irrational, pointless, foolish and empty – an exercise in futility.
These are words from a king who had it all – tremendous intellect, riches, honour, reputation and God’s blessings. Solomon searched for satisfaction almost like it was a scientific experiment. He discovered that life with God was a long and fruitless search for enjoyment, meaning and fulfilment.
Solomon learned that meaning in life is not found in knowledge, money, pleasure, work or popularity. True happiness is not in our power to accumulate or attain, because we always desire more than we have. True satisfaction comes from knowing that what we are doing is part of God’s purpose for our lives. If you are chasing after happiness, you will never find it in this material world. On the other hand, if you are seeking God you will find endless joy.
Human wisdom does not contain all the answers. Knowledge and education have their limits. To understand life, we need the wisdom that can only be found in God’s Word to us – the Bible. Because life is short, we need wisdom. The certainty of death makes merely all human achievement futile. God has a plan for human destiny that goes beyond life and death. The reality of aging and dying reminds us of the end to come, when God will judge each person’s life.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon teaches us that we should enjoy life, but this does not exempt us from obeying God’s commandments. Those who lack purpose and direction in life, should respect God and follow his principles for living. No matter what the mysteries and apparent contradictions of life, each of us must work toward the single purpose of knowing God.