Summary of Ecclesiastes

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 20, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

I’ve been writing through the book of Ecclesiastes throughout 2020 so far, and we have finally reached the end! Last week, I wrapped up going through the actual text, so this week I want to provide you with a summary of the Teacher’s wisdom from this great book. You can read all of my blog posts on this book here or at the links throughout this post.

Way back in my introduction post, we first needed to figure out who wrote this book and why in order to have a better understanding of its meaning. Ecclesiastes is written by the Teacher (“Qohelet” in Hebrew), who is generally believed to be King Solomon. If that is true, then it was written near the end of King Solomon’s reign and life. It is considered to be wisdom literature, similar to proverbs.

Ecclesiastes 1 starts out on a seemingly depressing note, talking about how meaningless this life is. It first looks at nature and how all of the natural processes just keep on going regardless of what’s going on in the lives of humans. Next in this chapter, the Teacher looks at the chasing of knowledge and wisdom and how it seems meaningless. In both of these examples, the important thing to remember is that God created this world and put us in it to worship and glorify Him, and that is what gives meaning to our lives.

Ecclesiastes 2 starts out with the Teacher’s discussion on pleasure in this life. His emphasis is on how the pleasures of this life are only temporarily enjoyable but ultimately meaningless when we die. These pleasures will never truly satisfy us. The chapter continues with comparing wisdom to folly, very similar to many passages in the book of Proverbs. The Teacher emphasizes that whether we live our lives wisely or foolishly, all of us are going to die. That may sound depressing, but for those of us who believe in Jesus, physical death brings us that much closer to eternal life with Him, if we have made the choice to live our lives out of faith in Him. This chapter concludes with the Teacher’s thoughts on work and how it, too, seems to be meaningless in this life after we die. Work is important because God created us to do it, and our goal should be to glorify God in our work.

Ecclesiastes 3 begins with that “famous” passage of there being a time for everything under the sun. We go through rhythms of good and bad times in our lives, and God is there for us through it all. The Teacher shares his perspective on this concept in the next part of the chapter as he discusses where our focus is, discovering our purpose, and how we react to God and what He has done in our lives. The chapter ends with a discussion on death - a topic we’ve probably all thought about, but most people don’t want to discuss it.

After that depressing note, the Teacher begins to discuss ambition and power in Ecclesiastes 4. Achieving power is meaningless in this world if that’s all we’re living for, so we need to check out motivation on why we live the way we live so that we’re not living meaningless lives. He then moves on to discussing working together for good purposes and being in leadership roles. We’re encouraged in this chapter to work with others for the good of the community rather than to be isolated, and to be a wise leader and to pray for and encourage our leaders.

Ecclesiastes 5 begins with the Teacher reminding his readers that true purpose and fulfillment are only found in God’s presence. Everything outside of fearing God and doing His will is meaningless. Next, the Teacher goes back to addressing the meaninglessness of various topics; next up is money. We need to keep a proper perspective on money, that it’s all from God anyway so we need to use it as He wants us to. The Teacher then addresses the evils of money, and how accumulating wealth can be a distraction from what is really important in this life - glorifying God and trusting in Him for all our needs.

Ecclesiastes 6 continues the discussion on money by addressing our desire for accumulating possessions. We frequently think that having more possessions will make us happier, but the Teacher has learned from his wisdom that this is not the case. Our attitude toward material wealth is important; are we content with what God has given us, or are we always wanting more?

The Teacher switches gears in Ecclesiastes 7 by starting out the chapter with a selection of proverbs, or wise sayings. The chapter then continues by addressing the question of what happens to people who live righteous lives or wicked lives. We all disobey God in our lives, but some people seem to have better or longer lives than others. We are all called to obey God, and it’s up to God how He blesses us or not. The Teacher wraps up the chapter by looking at how to deal with those who appear to be less wise than us. We may become frustrated in such situations, but God calls us to share the wisdom He has given us with others.

Ecclesiastes 8 begins with instructing us on obeying the authorities that are in power over us. We need to respect our authorities, knowing that all of us will answer to God (the ultimate authority) for all of our actions. The rest of this chapter deals with the idea of injustice in this world. We all struggle with this idea of why the world seems to be so unfair, but the key is to remember that God is God and we are not, so we cannot understand His ways.

Ecclesiastes 9 first looks at our destiny - both what we will end up doing on this earth, and where we will end up after this life is over. As believers in Christ, we know our destiny is ultimately to be with Him. That is a certainty, unlike all of the uncertainty we face in this life. We can (and should) always turn to God in every situation we face in this life because He is the one certainty we have. That wisdom is better than physical strength or size.

Ecclesiastes 10 is full of proverbs from the Teacher on a variety of topics. While these proverbs were written many centuries ago in a different culture, they have timeless wisdom that still applies to us today.

Ecclesiastes 11 continues with more proverbs, but these are centered around the theme of how to live in the present with not knowing what the future will hold. The Teacher then discusses the idea of growing up and growing old. We should strive to enjoy the days we are given and always be growing in wisdom and maturity.

Ecclesiastes 12 first continues the discussion on old age and how our life should not be meaningless when we look back on it. We then read the Teacher’s concluding thoughts. I’ll leave you with the ultimate summary of this great book from Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

Fear God and keep His commandments; everything else is meaningless under the sun.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.