"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"
The Preacher’s Search For Meaning – I (Ec 1:4-18)
1. Why am I here? What am I to be doing?
a. These are questions that nearly everyone asks at some point in
b. They are questions the author of Ecclesiastes sought to address
2. In our introductory lesson we saw…
a. The author identified – Ec 1:1
1) The Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem
2) I.e., Solomon
b. The theme stated – Ec 1:2
1) All is vanity
2) I.e., life from an earthly perspective ("under the sun") is
futile, meaningless – Ec 1:14
c. The question raised – Ec 1:3
1) What profit is there for a man from all his labor under the
2) I.e., what benefit can one derive from all his efforts in this
3. In the first two chapters, Solomon demonstrates how he came to this
a. From his observations regarding the cyclical nature of life and
its apparent meaninglessness
b. From his own experiences as he sought to find meaning through
[As we continue to listen to the "Preacher", then, we find him
I. THE FUTILITY OBSERVED IN THE CYCLES OF LIFE
A. NOTHING SEEMS TO CHANGE – Ec 1:4-7
1. The earth appears to abide forever, even as generations of men
come and go
2. The sun is constant with its rising and setting
3. The winds continue their whirling cycle
4. The water cycle also continues, as rivers run into the seas, and
then through evaporation and rain returns to the rivers again
— Looking at nature, it seems nothing ever changes; it just goes
in circles and remains the same!
B. NOTHING SEEMS TO SATISFY – Ec 1:8
1. Despite all our labors, man is never truly satisfied
2. What satisfaction one may think he has is only fleeting
3. Given time, we soon desire something else
C. NOTHING IS NEW UNDER THE SUN – Ec 1:9-11
1. What will be done is that which has been done
2. If thought to be new, it is only because we have forgotten
what occurred before
a. What about our modern technological advances?
b. What about the technology that created the pyramids,
— Given time, future civilizations will forget what we are doing
today, and only "rediscover" what has been learned again and
[Faced with what appeared to be such meaningless cycles in life, the
"Preacher" sought to determine man’s true purpose. He first shares
with us his own experience with…]
II. THE FUTILITY OF HUMAN WISDOM
A. THE PREACHER PREFACES HIS SEARCH – Ec 1:12-15
1. He was king over Israel in Jerusalem
a. I.e., Solomon
b. Who had been given wisdom from God – 1 Ki 3:9-12; 1 Ki 4:29-34
2. He determined to use such wisdom to seek and search all that
has been done "under heaven"
a. A task that he understood God had given to all men
b. A task for which he knew he had been especially equipped
3. He summarizes what he found, having seen all the works done
"under the sun"
a. He concludes they are vanity and grasping for wind
b. For there is little one can do to make significant changes
B. THE PREACHER APPLIED HIS GOD-GIVEN WISDOM – Ec 1:16-17a
1. He acknowledged the greatness and wisdom he had obtained
a. In answer to prayer, Solomon had obtained great wisdom
1) Again, cf. 1 Ki 3:9-12
2) Compare this also to Ja 1:5
b. This is "God-given wisdom", to be contrasted with "human
2. He therefore sought to apply it to wisdom, madness, and folly
a. The "wisdom" here we believe is "human wisdom"
b. For this is wisdom that he set his heart to know (learn)
C. THE PREACHER CONCLUDES HUMAN WISDOM IS FUTILE – Ec 1:17b-18
1. He perceived that such wisdom was like grasping for wind; it
did not provide the answer to his problem
2. He also saw that such wisdom and knowledge provide much grief
a. As we might say today, it provides "information overload"
b. One becomes burdened as we learn of many things in life
1) Things we have no control over
2) Yet things we often worry over
1. In beginning his search for meaning, the wise Preacher naturally
began with wisdom…
a. Thus he set his heart to "know wisdom"
b. But he found such wisdom to be "grasping for the wind"
2. Some do not believe we are to take his words as an indictment against
a. For there is a "God-given wisdom" for which one should seek
– cf. Pro 2:1-9; Ja 1:5
b. This kind of wisdom can bless one’s life – cf. Pro 3:13-18
3. But it is an indictment against "human wisdom"…
a. A wisdom that seeks to understand life, but leaves God out of the
b. A wisdom that can only leave one "grasping for the wind"
In our next study, we shall continue with the Preacher’s "search for
meaning" and notice his observations regarding pleasure, madness, and
In the meantime, remember what Paul wrote in contrasting human wisdom
with God’s wisdom:
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom
from God; and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;
that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the
LORD." (1 Cor 1:30-31)
Have you accepted and obeyed the true wisdom from God, Jesus Christ,
who gives meaning and purpose for life?