Introduction: This week we begin the study of a new book of the Bible
– Ecclesiastes! I am excited to be studying this book because it has
so much practical and interesting advice for us. We realize that the
Bible teaches us in different ways. Sometimes it lays before us the
errors of others – not to give us an example, but rather to give us
an illustration of what not to do. Other times, the Bible gives us
direct advice on how to live. Our challenge in Ecclesiastes will be
to separate what the Holy Spirit led Solomon, who had one of the
greatest minds, to record as the depressed thoughts of a man who
realizes that he has wasted part of his “God-potential,” from those
thoughts inspired to give us direct, positive advice for living.
Let’s jump right in!

  1. The Author – the Bad

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 1:1. Who is the author of Ecclesiastes?
      (The book says it was written by the “Teacher” who is the
      son of David and the King in Jerusalem. That points us to
      King Solomon.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 2:1-4. What final charge does King David give

    3. How faithful was King Solomon in following the charge
      given to him by King David?

      1. Read 1 Kings 3:1-3. What problem do we see starting
        in the life of Solomon? (That he compromises on the
        worship of other gods.)

      2. Read 1 Kings 11:1-6. Where does this compromise lead?
        (His heart was turned to other gods and he was not
        fully devoted to the Lord.)

  2. The Author – the Good

    1. Read 1 Kings 3:5-14. What has God promised Solomon that is
      not conditioned on his future behavior? (Wisdom, to a
      greater degree than any other human. Honor and riches
      above every other king during his life. The length of his
      life depends on his faithfulness.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 4:29-34. What have we to learn from King
      Solomon? (A great deal!)

  3. What We Can Learn from the Author

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 1:2. Why does Solomon repeat the word
      “meaningless?” (He does it to give it emphasis. Like the
      reference to the “holy of holies” in the temple it is an
      indication of degree. Everything is really meaningless.)

      1. If everything is meaningless, would that include the
        book of Ecclesiastes?

        1. If so, what is the point of studying
          Ecclesiastes? Or, is this the author’s way of
          telling us “Don’t continue, turn away now?”

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:8-10. We have jumped to the end of
      the book of Ecclesiastes, and we see the reference to the
      opening statement. Is it God’s truth that everything is
      meaningless? Or, is this just the description of a bad
      attitude that we should avoid? (Ecclesiastes tells us that
      the Teacher (Solomon) was right in saying these words.)

      1. Why does Solomon say we should believe what is in the
        book of Ecclesiastes? (He is wise-something we
        earlier saw was a gift specifically given to him by
        God. He “pondered” (i.e., carefully considered), he
        researched, and organized what he wrote. He chose
        just the right words to convey truth. The Wycliffe
        Bible Commentary says that “just the right words”
        would be better translated “pleasing words,” meaning
        that a teacher should make his teaching interesting
        without sacrificing the truth.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 12:11. How do we learn from the words of

      1. What is a “goad?” (It is a prod – a sharpened stick –
        that you would shove into the hide of a cow to get
        him to move in the correct direction. Compare Hebrews 4:12.)

      2. How are wise words like embedded nails? (They hold
        the truth in place in our mind. You assemble an
        understanding of truth that is not constantly
        changing shape.)

      3. Who is the “Shepherd,” the source of the wisdom in
        Ecclesiastes? (See Psalms 23:1. Solomon says God is
        the source of these words.)

  1. Overview of the Teacher’s Truth

    1. We have this very strong endorsement of the importance and
      truth of the book of Ecclesiastes. Yet it begins and ends
      with “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is
      meaningless.” How are these words like a goad? (They spur
      your thinking. My general conclusion is that about
      everything is important. This tells me just the opposite.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 12:11-12. How does this help to define
      what Solomon means by “everything” is meaningless?

      1. Are the words of God meaningless? (When Solomon says
        “everything” he is not including the words of God.)

      2. Read Deuteronomy 4:2. What does this text and
        Ecclesiastes 12:12 suggest about the GoBible lessons
        and the sermons you hear at church? Should they be
        ignored as meaningless? (The goal of every good Bible
        study, the goal of every good sermon, is to point the
        student to the Word of God. Human views are
        meaningless and wearisome. God’s words are truth.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 12:13. We have further definition of
      what is meant by “everything is meaningless.” Tell me what
      Solomon tells us is meaningful? (To fear God and keep His

      1. Is this a truth that survives the cross? Is this a
        message consistent with righteousness by faith? (Read
        John 14:15. Jesus tells us that if we love (fear)
        Him, we will obey Him. This is eternal wisdom and

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:14. Is the judgment something that is
      meaningless? (No! In our meaningless world, what we should
      keep in mind is the judgment. The idea of judgment should
      drive our actions.)

      1. Is this wisdom, or scare tactics? (I just read a
        fabulous little article on which I am going to base
        my next sermon. It argues that if we are Christians
        because we think it will make our life more
        comfortable and more prosperous, then when things
        become less comfortable and prosperous we will leave.
        But, if we become Christians because it is the only
        way for us to hold on to life and avoid eternal
        death, then we will hold on to the gospel no matter

      2. What is meant by our “hidden things” being brought
        into judgment? (Our actions are generally seen, but
        our thoughts are hidden. God judges both our actions
        and our thoughts. See Matthew 5:27-28.)

    2. Friend, is life meaningless or worth living? Solomon tells
      us that a relationship with God makes life worth living.
      Will you determine today to give your heart to God and
      begin that relationship with Him?

  1. Next week: Nothing New Under the Sun.