The book of Ecclesiastes is one in which perspective is paramount. The author who penned these words paints a realistic picture of “life under the sun.” Each chapter is filled with situations in life that feel like vanity. The word “vanity” throughout the book is used over 30 times and carries the idea of chasing the wind or attempting to grab smoke. The endless pursuit of power, wealth, prestige, and the delicacies of life all fall under the umbrella of chasing the wind or attempting to grab smoke. Even the pursuit of endless wisdom is not worth the effort in the long run.
Each chapter of this Old Testament book is full of wisdom in the form of warnings, proverbs, and realities. A couple of examples include Ecclesiastes 5:1 which states, “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.” The majority of this chapter describes the difference between meaningless and meaningful worship. The phrase, “Keep thy foot” carries the idea of taking time to consider what it means to come to the house of God and how our approach should be. Even the steps leading up to the temple mount that were hewn out of Mount Moriah were staggered to make those approaching the house of God slow down! Sunday mornings are often the most rushed mornings of the week. There is great value in taking time to slow down, to consider what going to church means, and what we are going for. One other example is found in Ecclesiastes 5:19-20, “Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.” This encourages us to be thankful for the gifts of God in this life. Life is short, and time flies, but we are called to enjoy the blessings of God! Instead of wishing for what we do not have, Ecclesiastes 6:9 says, “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.”
This book is sometimes described as depressing or discouraging, but when read and studied with the proper perspective, it can be encouraging! Life is hard, but God is good. And as believers we wait on the day when He will make all things new. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)
So let us, with the writer of these words, “hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”