Ecclesiastes 1

I will be posting the 12 chapters of the Book of Ecclesiastes one chapter at a time on my blog. Look on the blog for new postings of new chapters as I post them. I am using bold text for the Word of God from the King James Version Bible as it is written. I will use italic for my commentary below the chapters and verses from the book of Ecclesiastes, This commentary is how I help people understand what is written in the Bible.

We begin with Ecclesiastes 1

The Book of Ecclesiastes, the King James Version (KJV)

Ecclesiastes 1

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:3 tells us the main subject in the Book of Ecclesiastes. It asks what a person really achieves by all his hard work in this world under the sun. Jesus asked a very similar question in Matthew 16:26. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” He knew that without a right relationship with God, a person achieves nothing worthwhile. A person may become rich or famous in life but these things do not last. At death, that person loses all such things and power. And afterwards, nothing matters except that person’s relationship with God!

The Book of Ecclesiastes uses Solomon’s life to teach that lesson. Solomon was the ‘Preacher’ that Ecclesiastes 1:1 refers to. He was one of Israel’s greatest kings, and he made he and his country wealthy. He was wise, and he became famous. But towards the end of his life, Solomon was not loyal to God. Yes Solomon had a close relationship with God. But Solomon lost that, and he even began to serve false gods (1 Kings 11:7-10).

“7 Then did Solomon build a Ehigh place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. 

8 And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 

9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,

10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.”

And after Solomon’s death, the good things and the bad things that he had achieved did not last. All his power and wisdom, which God gave him to start with, didn’t help him live his life. He left go of God at the end of his life and he paid dearly for his sins!

Ecclesiastes 1:4-7

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

Ecclesiastes 1:4-7

Some of the most noble people who have ever lived have wanted to change the world. They wanted to make the world a better place. So they worked hard, and used every effort to achieve that.

They did many good things, and they helped many people. But still, the results disappointed them. There were very many more things that they could not do. There were very many more people whom they could not help. The improvements that they made were not permanent. They tried so hard to change the world but, in the end, the world remained the same.The power of God is much more powerful then the power of men and women. These good deeds did not and will not impress God, He is looking for your sins. Deeds don’t get you into Heaven, but sins will definitely keep you out of Heaven. 

Compared to the power of man, the sun produces much more light and heat than all our fuels can. The wind is a stronger force than any army is. Water has a greater effect in our world than any king or ruler. These things were operating on our world before any person lived. And they will continue to operate after our deaths. But even these powerful things cannot change our world. They simply follow the rules that God gave them in the beginning after He created them. They repeat the same actions, day after day and year after year. They go round in circles. The sun returns to the same place in the sky. The wind blows back and forward. Clouds rise over the sea to give water to the rivers that flow back to the sea. 

Only God can really change the world. He created it, and he can change it (Romans 8:19-21). “19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

How can man’s power compare with God’s infinite power in this universe!

In the future, he will make a new heaven and a new earth. And only there will this world’s troubles end permanently (Revelation 21:1-4). “ 1 And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth: for the first Heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

2 And I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11

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 hath 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.

10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

11 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.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11

Most people have a genuine desire to achieve something good during their lives. They would like to make life better for their family and friends who live after them.

That may be our desire, but usually our lives seem much too hard to do anything about it, and we don’t seem to have the time to change anything anyway. Everything that we do feels like a hard task. Although we work hard, we cannot even satisfy our own immediate desires. Even if we do manage to do something to help our families or friends in the future, they will not be grateful. Soon, they will forget that we even existed.

Our desires should be an expression of the best things that we hope to do for our family and friends. In our desires, we imagine that we can find the solution to the world’s problems or even trying to help your children not do the mistakes you made. But there is something very wrong about our desires. Our wrong and worldly desires have nothing to do with what God’s desires are and they become the cause of our family and friends problems as well as the world. (Galatians 5:19-21). “19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

We have found that we cannot control our own desires. In fact, our wrong desires control us (Romans 7:17-20).

“17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

We live in enemy territory (the world). All the old solutions to our problems always fail to help. Our own best efforts cannot save us. All our money and wisdom cannot save us. We struggle like slaves to solve our problems, working at our jobs, our family problems, helping our friends, even helping others in need, we can’t help them or ourselves. The world we live in just operates like that (Galatians 4:3). “3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:”

We see the old problems are still with us so we look for new solutions. But they don’t seem to work either. It seems nothing can help us. Wrong, with God, all things are possible! (Mark 9:23) “23 Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Jesus told us here in Mark 9:23 “all things are possible to him that believeth” and Jesus can not lie! God is the only one that can truly do something that is completely new (2 Corinthians 5:17). “17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

God can make people who were once slaves into His children (Galatians 4:3-7). “3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:

4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirt of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.

7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

He truly can make His people free! What freedom is God speaking of? (Romans 8:1-2) is the answer. “1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirt of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

With the help from the Holy Spirt God can change our desires completely. (Galatians 5:22-23). “22 But the fruit of the Spirt is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Ecclesiastes 1:12-15

12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.

13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-15

King Solomon was famous across the world for his  wisdom (1 Kings 4:29-34). “29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 30 And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.32 And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. 33 And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. 34 And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.”  

King Solomon studied hard to become wise. King Solomon even asked God for wisdom, and God gave it to him to help rule over his people. And now he wanted to use his God given wisdom to help his people. He saw how hard they struggled, often because of wrong and foolish decisions. And he thought that, perhaps, he could help them. Solomon quickly realized that he had given himself an extremely difficult task. In fact, it would be impossible to complete that task. People have more problems than anyone can count. It is impossible for a person to make right everything that is wrong. And the thing that Solomon found most seriously wrong in this world is the state of people’s hearts. In other words, their desires, attitudes and thoughts are completely wrong in God’s eyes (Romans 3:9-20). “9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

People’s wrong deeds are the result of the state of their hearts (Mark 7:20-23).”20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

For that reason, God has ruled that people must work hard for their whole lives (Genesis 3:17-19).”17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Because of the curse God put on man, God did not intend that people should never rest (Exodus 20:8-10). ”8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:”

But for many people, life seems a constant struggle. (Psalm 90:7-10).”7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.

8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

It is hard for people to earn their money. It is hard for people to provide for their families. It is hard to do what seems right or necessary. Solomon discovered that it was hard for him even to think about these matters. These facts make Jesus’ offer in (Matthew 11:28-30) “28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Even more impressive and desirable, He invited people to serve him and to learn his wisdom. He would not give them tasks that are too hard for them. He offers them comfort and rest.

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18

16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18

Foolish and stupid behavior does not improve anyone’s life. That is a clear fact. People suffer much because of their foolish decisions. When Solomon decided to study people’s behavior, he included the study of foolish and unwise behavior. King Solomon was a great scholar and liked to study, but this kind of study brought him knowledge that gave him no pleasure. He saw how people were wasting their lives. He realized that they were causing unnecessary trouble for themselves and others. Their situation seemed hopeless, because they did not even want to be wise. And Solomon’s situation seemed hopeless too. He had hoped to use his wisdom in order to help save his people from their troubles. But the people did not want Solomon’s wisdom or advice. And Solomon could not even convince them that wisdom was a good thing. Even Solomon had to declare that his knowledge about these things made him sadder and more depressed. Worse yet the people could not believe that it was good to be sad at times, like their king! It is interesting to compare Psalm 1:1-6 “1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” With  Ecclesiastes 1:16-18. “16  I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” Most people do not have a relationship with God, and they do not even want to know God. They think that knowledge of God’s word (the King James Version Bible) would make them sad or mad or even afraid of what God will do to them for their sins! They might feel the same way even if they knew God’s opinion about the true state of their lives.

But the author of Psalm 1 declared that constant study of God’s word (the Bible) gave delight in the law of the Lord. Psalm 1:2. This is the kind of wisdom that changes people’s lives completely as we see in (Proverbs 3:13-16) “13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.

15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

16 Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honor”. And it comes only from God. (Job 28:28) shows this as well: ”28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding”.(Proverbs 2:6) “6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding”. With Gods help you can overcome your grief and sorrow using the wisdom and knowledge found in the Bible. 

The end of Ecclesiastes 1

All Glory to God

His humble servant Lee M Buchanan