• Ecclesiastes 1:1-2:17


  • The writer appears to be Solomon.
  • Solomon (971-931 BC): I Kings 1-11; II Chronicles 1-9
    • Blessed with wisdom, riches, and honor (I Kings 3)
    • Built temple (I Kings 6-8)
    • Wrote Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
    • Women: 700 wives, 300 concubines, “turned his heart away” (I Kings 11:3)
    • Last king of the united kingdom


  • Vanity / wind / evil / futility
  • Under the sun
    • The scope of the book is life “under the sun.” That helps explain these strange statements (Ecclesiastes 4:2-3; 10:18).
  • Nothing new / things go in circles (Ecclesiastes 1:3-11)
  • Death (Ecclesiastes 2:14-16)
  • Hard work / possessions (Ecclesiastes 2:18-26)
  • Pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11)
  • Time / chance / random / unfair (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
  • Wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)


  • Brutally realistic
  • Contrast with Proverbs
Proverbs Ecclesiastes
Living according to God’s will tends to lead to a happier, healthier life … … but not always.
Emphasize the rules. Emphasizes the exceptions to the rules.
Solomon as the wise father giving optimistic advice about how to prosper and succeed. Solomon as the cranky old grandfather who says, “Life’s hard, then you die.”
“In all labor there is profit …” (Proverbs 14:23) “Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me.” (Ecclesiastes 2:18)
“For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” (Proverbs 2:10) “in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

Notes on the book

  • Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 – Everything is circular and there is no progress.
    • Ecclesiastes 1:7 – This seems to be a reference to the water cycle, which may be an example of scientific foreknowledge in the Bible.
  • Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 – Solomon did the experimentation, so we don’t have to. He explored by wisdom but found only vanity.
  • Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 – Solomon tried all sorts of pleasure, but never found fulfillment.
  • Ecclesiastes 2:12-17 – Wisdom is better than folly, but will not save you from death.