Why are we here, what is the meaning and purpose of "life under the sun?" How do we live full and happy lives in the midst of a fast paced, cruel, and often unpredictable world?
Ecclesiastes is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Qoheleth, used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Ecclesia is used as a title for God’s assembled people—the church. Ecclesiastes literally means leader of the assembly and has been given English equivalents including, teacher, president, speaker, professor and pundit. In this book he will be known as the Preacher—the title used in the NKJV.
He describes himself as, ‘the son of David, king in Jerusalem’ (1:1, cf. 1:12). Our natural conclusion is that he is Solomon (about 971–931 B.C.), writing towards the end of his life, indicating that he has repented from his apostasy and turned back to God—although there is no evidence of this in the biblical account of his life (1 Kings 1–11).
Winter, J. (2005). Opening up Ecclesiastes (p. 10). Leominster: Day One Publications.
Under the sun/ heaven, does not indicate a “pessimistic” point of view, but rather refers to the world and to mankind in their current fallen state. (Eccl 1:3).
"Vanity," Meaningless, Having no value or significance." (used throughout Eccl).
Striving after wind, Life on the earth as a whole -- is vain, because it is like grasping or chasing after the wind (Eccl 1:2, 14; Eccl 2:17).
Ecclesiastes forces us to consider and view life in its totality. Life is busy and full of work. At times life can be pleasant, but for the most part it's full of negativity.
1) It's swift and short.
2) It repeats itself.
3) It's full of disappointments:
- Competition and struggle
- Unfair circumstances
- Suffering, poverty, crime etc.
- No matter how one lives his or her life (good or bad), it ends in death. Sometimes tragically.
Major Prevailing Question
If life frequently makes no sense and pleasures and achievements are “fleeting,” is there any significance to human existence?
Ecclesiastes Chapter 1 Questions
(Eccl 1:1, 12)
1) Who wrote Ecclesiastes? (cite Scriptures to support your answer)
2) What did the preacher learn about the human race, life-work, nature and history? In light of this, how should one live his or her life in this world? (see Mark 8:35-37; Luke 12:16-21; 2 Cor 5:8-9).
3) What did the preacher determine to learn by wisdom? What did the preacher do with his heart in order to use his wisdom?
4) What did the preacher conclude was the state of mankind's existence?
5) What is the problem with wisdom?
(Eccl 1:2, 14).
Ecclesiastes Chapter 2 Questions
1) What did the Preacher seek to learn about the sons/ children of men? How did he do this? Was this risky, and if so, how?
2) Which of these sums up verses 1-10? (a) Syncretism? (b) Hedonism? (c) Altruism? (d) Dualism?
3) The preacher laments the fact that the fates of the wise and the foolish are the same. What are their fates?
4) Any advantage gained by living with wisdom is lost in death. Does this mean the Preacher is advocating that one should avoid the extremes of living too wisely and too foolishly?
5) Read Eccl 2:18-25: Is the vanity of toil, toil itself? Or is it something else?
6) According to verse 26, how does God use the sinner? Can you think of an example of this in the Bible?
Lesson 3: “There is a time for every matter”
There is a time for all things. What can we learn from
them? How will we respond to them?
- Observing the realities of life.
- The work of God.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-22.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Questions
1) Using some of the illustrations from vs 2-8, explain how these could be demonstrated in your Christian walk.
2) Compare Eccl 3:9-10 with Eccl 1:13. Is the Preacher naming God as the source of all the world’s vanity?
3) From verses 11-14 the Preacher mentions five major facts about God. What are they? Describe how each one affects our daily living.
4) What vanity is found in verses 16-17? What hope is found as well?
5) The Preacher mentions that God test’s humans. How, and or when do you think God does this?
6) In view of man’s limitations, what does the Preacher say is good for mankind to do?
Lesson 4: “Cruelty & Hardship Is Everywhere"
Ecclesiastes Chapter 4 Questions
1) Give some examples of what constitutes oppression in life?
2) According to the Preacher, who is better off than the living? What are the positives and negatives of this?
3) What was the motivating factor for man's toil? Give some everyday examples of this.
4) How could a handful of quietness be better than two hands full of toil? What can too much toil deprive one of?
5) The Preacher addresses the value of companionship? What are some of its benefits. Can you think of any spiritual benefits of companionship?
6) In Eccl 4:13-16, the young poor man is wise, becomes king and was probably well liked at first. Yet, as the years go by, others do not respect him--regardless of how wise he is. People are sometimes like the weather--changing everyday.
What do theses Scriptures teach us about the dangers of trusting in others?
(Psalm 20:7; Psalm 40:4; Psalm 118:8-9; Isaiah 26:4; Jeremiah 9:4; Jeremiah 17:5-8 ).
Lesson 5: “Vanity persists because of carelessness"
- Spiritual Carelessness.
- Careless Decisions & Pursuits.
- Financial Carelessness.
Read Ecclesiastes 5:1-20.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 5 Questions
1) According to the Preacher, what should one do when they go to the House of God? (Worship). What
does this mean? List some practical ways we can do this today.
2) Vows are very similar to swearing. And although they were not required under the Law of Moses,
they had to be completed once someone made a commitment (Eccl 5:4-5; Deut 23:21). Should
Christians be involved in this today? (see Matt 5:33-37; Matt 23:16-22; James 5:12).
3) What do the cravings for money and the cravings of sin have in common (see Eccl 5:10)?
What are the lasting dangers of these cravings? (consider John 8:31; 2 Pet 2:19).
4) Why does the greedy rich person have a difficult time sleeping? (consider 1 Tim 6:9-10; Lk 10:41;
1 Cor 7:32-34).
5) How can riches be kept to one’s “hurt?”
6) What does the Bible say about providing for our loved ones? (see Prov 13:22; 1 Tim 5:3-4, 8).
7) In spite of universal vanity, what does the Preacher say is good and fitting for mankind to do?
Lesson 6: “The vanity of an empty life"
- Appreciate and cherish your blessings.
- Focus upon what's most important.
- Do not contend with God.
Read Ecclesiastes 6:1-12
Ecclesiastes Chapter 6 Questions
1) What evil had the Preacher seen under the sun?
2) According to the Preacher, what is essential for mankind in life?
3) Where's the one place we all go? (consider 1 Kings 2:1-2; 2 Samuel 14:14; Isaiah 14:1-16).
4) Which of these describes verse 7?
d) Misguided lust.
5) Is the Preacher referring to optical abilities or is there a deeper meaning? Explain your answer.
6) As humble creatures of God's design, what lessons can we learn about God from verses 10-12?
Lesson 7: “Contrasting Wisdom & Folly"
- Wisdom improves life and avoids vanity.
- Wisdom comes from God, folly comes from man.
Read Ecclesiastes 7:1-29.
Ecclesiastes 7 Questions
1) How is a good name better than precious ointment?
2) How can the day of death possibly be better than birth?
3) After reading Eccl 7:2 what is taken to heart?
4) How is the heart “made better” by sorrow?
5) What is the vanity of looking to the past? (see v. 10)
6) With all of his knowledge, why is it difficult for Solomon to understand the reasoning's
behind what is done by men? (see vs. 23-29).
Lesson 8: “The Value Of Prudence & Fear"
Passion and impulse before fear of God and prudent living can be very destructive.
- The influence of wisdom.
- The value of prudence.
- Fearing God is better.
Read Ecclesiastes 8:1-17.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 8 Questions
1) How does wisdom affect a person?
2) The Preacher discuses some practical ways a servant can exercise prudence in dealing with a king. Contrast some
of these with the relationship between the Christian worker and the non Christians in high positions authority.
3) In this particular context, why are the hearts men determined (set) to do evil?
4) If sinners continually do sinful things and live long lives, how are they still not better off than those who fear God?
(consider also Psalm 24:19-20; Psalm 37; Psalm 94:1-9, 23; Romans 2:6-11; Heb 10:30-31). What are the benefits
of fearing the Lord? (consider Ps 25:12–13; 31:19; 34:7,9; 85:9; 111:5; 115:13; 145:19).
5) Give some examples of verse 14.
6) What does the Preacher conclude?
Lesson 9: “Don’t Waste Your Life!”
Life under the sun is filled with unpredictability, and unfairness.
There is no such thing as a “normal life,” just life as it is.
- Life is unpredictable.
- Live life to the fullest.
- Wisdom is better than power.
Read Ecclesiastes 9:1-18
Ecclesiastes Chapter 9 Questions
1) In view of Eccl 9:1-6, list various ways one’s life can affected both mentally and practically.
2) Though he is not advocating sin, what are some reasons why the Preacher advises one to live life to the fullest?
3) What happens to all? Knowing these facts, what should one’s attitude be in this life? (consider Rom 12:3; 1 Pet 5:6-8).
4) What is the irony of seeking to become a hero? How should this influence the motivation behind doing good deeds for others? (consider Galatians 1:10; Matthew 6:1-4).
5) Even if no one cares about the wise and righteous thing to do, is righteous wisdom always the best course of action? (consider also Prov 1:32-33; Eccl 2:13-14; Eccl 7:19; James 4:17).
Lesson 10: “The Power of Foolishness”
A little folly can drastically transform the present and future outcomes of our lives.
A little folly does a lot of harm!
Folly in high places destroys justice.
Folly undermines success.
Read Ecclesiastes 10:1-20.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 10 Questions
1) Why should one avoid folly (foolishness)?
2) What are some ways one can show or demonstrate to everyone he is a fool?
3) What happens to decency and justice when folly is in high places?
4) Verses 8-11 demonstrates how a fool’s own actions can be his or her undoing. According to the Preacher, why can’t fools succeed?
5) Verses 16-17 illustrates both wise and foolish ways to conduct a governing office. How should one use his authority in such a high governing position? (consider Proverbs 31:1-9).
6) According to the Preacher, how big of a role does money play in our lives?
Lesson 11: “Be Productive”
Although there is much vanity in the world, it doesn’t mean that we have to add to it by living vain and unproductive lifestyles.
- God will reward you.
- Do not live by Idealism.
- Enjoy life wisely.
Read Ecclesiastes 11:1-10.
Ecclesiastes Chapter 11 Questions
1) What do you think the Preacher is trying to emphasize in verses 1-2?
2) Can anything be done to control the rain, a falling tree, or the wind? What life principles can be gleaned from these?
3) In light of verse 9 How should one view his or her younger years?
4) In view of the preacher’s warning, and the temporary nature of youth and life, how should one choose to live?
Lesson 12: “View Life In Its Totality”
“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come.” -Ecclesiastes 12:1a, (NKJV)
- Remember God.
- Life isn’t all about the physical.
- The Preacher’s conclusion.
Read Ecclesiastes 12:1-14.
1) What do you think the Preacher means by “Remember?”
2) Why will pleasure dwindle?
3) What happens to the soul?
4) Why is the Preacher’s conclusion so important in this vain life?
Circle the correct answer. ONLY ONE IS CORRECT!
1) According to the Book, who wrote Ecclesiastes?
c) The Preacher
2) He who increases knowledge increases...
3) Why did the Preacher test himself with pleasure?
a) To see what was vanity
b) Because he was bored
c) To test his faith under temptation
d) To see what was good for man
4) After the Preacher acquired and tried everything he wanted to, what did he conclude?
a) There was no profit
b) He wasted his time and resources
c) He wanted more
d) Life under the sun was very pleasurable
5) Which one does not belong?
"To everything there is a season... A time to..."
6) What has God put (set) in the hearts of men?
a) A Conscience
7) Nothing is better for mankind than to...
a) Eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor.
b) Be wise
c) Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God
d) Save for retirement
8) Two are better than...
9) "The fool ____________ his hands and consumes his own flesh"
a) Sits on
10) What kind of attitude should one have when going to worship God?
a) Prudent and ready to listen
c) Upbeat, zealous, and alert
11) When one makes a vow to God what should he or she do?
b) Take it back
12) What could happen if we don't appreciate our blessings from God?
a) We could appreciate vain things
b) God will turn his back on us
c) We could lose our souls
d) God will let someone else enjoy them
13) According to the Preacher, what is to be sought after?
a) Having many children
b) Living many years
c) A soul satisfied with good things
d) A proper burial
14) "It is better to be in the house of _________ than the house of feasting"
a) The Lord
15) If God made man upright, how has man become so sinful?
a) Because all is vanity
b) God made a mistake
c) Because they sought out many schemes
d) Because the devil is very powerful
16) What does wisdom do
a) Causes one's face to shine
b) Makes one wise
c) Keeps the soul from trouble
d) Prolongs one's life
17) The hearts of men are set to do evil because
a) All is vanity
b) They do not fear the law
c) They do not fear God
d) A sentence isn't executed quickly
18) Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with...
b) Fear of the Lord
c) Your might
19) The power of a little folly is compared to what insect
20) "The labor of a fool ___________ him"
21) "Cast your ____________ upon the waters..."
22) How should the young live?
a) Walk in the ways of their hearts, knowing future judgment to come
b) With wisdom, recognizing all is vanity and grasping for wind
c) With someone they truly love
d) With eternity on their minds
23) What should we remember in the days of our youth?
a) To eat our fruits and veggies
b) Our Creator
c) To respect our elders
d) To become a Christian
24) What is the whole duty of man?
a) To do good to all people
b) To love God and his Son Jesus Christ
d) Fear God and keep his commandments
e) To repent and believe