Let me start by giving you some advice. Don't read Ecclesiastes if you are depressed. I'm reading through the Bible this year and knocked out this book a few days ago in my quiet time unaware that later in the day I'd receive some sad news. Of course I had no way of knowing that, but I'm just saying, maybe skip it. I'll sum it up for you. There's a season to everything but overall there's nothing new under the sun, everything is pointless, then you die and other people get your stuff.
Also a summation of every estate sale you've ever been to.
If you haven't read it in a while you might remember it being beautiful and poetic, uplifting even. That's probably because in the sixties the Byrds took the coolest part of the book and made it into a song.
Turn, Turn, Turn.
You can hear it now, right?
Solomon, who as you will recall was on a lifelong quest for wisdom which he asked God for, comes up with advice on how to live a worthwhile life. His conclusion for how to live is to fear God and keep his commands and be happy in your work. Not bad advice but everyone up to him had been saying the same thing without the vocational recommendation.
His more practical advice for living is found in Proverbs.
How much richer are we than Solomon that we live in the light of the grace of Jesus and as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living in us? We have the Gospels and all the writings of the New Testament. While the things Solomon says are true he lived his entire life without knowing the fullest truth of God's plan for the salvation of mankind.
When you read Ecclesiastes you can almost hear him saying, "This is it?"
For the full context of his final conclusions about the meaning of life you'll need to read the accounts of all he accomplished. (1 Kings 4-9 and 2 Chronicles 3-9)
It's far more than you or I could hope to achieve in our wildest dreams.
Maybe the best way to approach Ecclesiastes is to read it with sympathy for the man who achieved such incredible things in his lifetime, a man who's name is still remembered and associated with great wisdom and building the Temple. But for all of that he did, he didn't have access to the completed plan of God. He lived and died with the greatest event in history hundreds of years in the future and never having heard the greatest news of all.
So for all his vast wealth, reputation, and wisdom you and I are in a better position to have hope for the future than Solomon. We live in the light of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. We have the gift of grace and the assurance of our own resurrection and eternity with God.
Solomon in all his wisdom could not have imagined such a thing.
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