A book of the Bible that deals with real issues in life.
[Darris McNeely] I'm going to begin with this BT Daily a series on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. Ecclesiastes is one of those books that, quite frankly, a lot of people are not familiar with. And in fact, sometimes when people read it they walk away with a rather negative feeling because it's not as uplifting perhaps as certain other sections of the Bible. In fact, it can be rather depressing and even discouraging, and leaving some to wonder, "Why is it in the Bible?" I had a friend that, a few years ago, who didn't like to teach from the book of Ecclesiastes because he just felt that it was a real downer. And I volunteered to say to him, I said, "Well, you know what, I love to teach it all the time. It is one of my favorite books, one that I try to read at least once a year and to go through, because of what it teaches and what it says." So we're going to start a series on the book of Ecclesiastes and take a few of these Dailies to go through and to talk about exactly what is in this book, and some of the lessons that we can apply to our own life.
The book starts off by making a statement that's rather startling. It says that everything is meaningless, completely meaningless – which gives you the idea, well, it can be a bit depressing, it could be a bit pointless in that one sense. It says, "What do people get for all of their hard work under the sun? Generations come, generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows from the south and turns around, rivers run into the sea and the water returns to the rivers, flows out again to the sea." Life is rather cyclical. "Everything is worrisome beyond description." He goes on to say that history merely repeats itself; it's all been done before (Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 Ecclesiastes 1:1-18  The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
 Vanity of vanities, said the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
 What profit has a man of all his labor which he takes under the sun?
 One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the earth stays for ever.
 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to his place where he arose.
 The wind goes toward the south, and turns about to the north; it whirls about continually, and the wind returns again according to his circuits.
 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; to the place from where the rivers come, thither they return again.
 All things are full of labor; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
 The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been already of old time, which was before us.
 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail has God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.
 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
 I communed with my own heart, saying, See, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yes, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.
American King James Version×).
This is from chapter 1, and the first few verses of the book of Ecclesiastes, which speaks to really an approach and an observation that life, if you just look at it for what it is at times and what it appears to be, it might be indeed vanity or meaningless, or sometimes rather empty and without purpose and without meaning. And though the book starts like that, one of the things to keep in mind is that this book is really a very realistic approach to what life often is, not always what we would hope and even achieve in our life. And I think we all have to recognize that we must deal with life as it comes to us, life as we see it, and sometimes it may look a bit futile. That doesn't mean that it has to end up that way and it would be for us.
It has long been accepted by the Jewish scholars who put together the Bible that the book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon, son of David, who is identified within the first few verses of the book as King David's son, who ruled in Jerusalem. Take it for what it says, without a lot of the other analysis that critics can put upon the book. I think it's best just to look at this book and take it as it is indeed a book written by Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, the son of David, who was a king in Jerusalem, and with what it says it can teach us a great deal about how a king looked at life in the ancient world, but drew lessons that apply to us in this modern time and in this modern place.
There's a key to understanding the book of Solomon – or the book of Ecclesiastes written by Solomon, one a very important key. I'm going to come back in part 2 and tell you what that key is that I think will help you and I, and any of us that take the time to sit down and study the book, to understand the wisdom and the application for our own life that can be found there.
That's BT Daily. Join me next time.