In regards to 1:2, “The word “futile” could be rendered “fleeting.” It literally means “breath,” and implies that something only has fleeting value and then evaporates, like a puff of air. The verse is not saying that everything is worthless, but that everything is short-lived and quickly passing. Nothing under the sun last forever.” Verse 3 emphasizes this by saying, “What does a man gain for all his efforts he labors under the sun?” It does not take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that life is short. Only God knows when we will take our last breath. Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, the author provides a good plan of living. In this journal entry, I will do my best to summarize the plan. 2:16, “For, just like the fool, there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man, since in the days to come both will be forgotten. How is it that the wise man dies just like the fool?” What the author is saying, is that although it is good to be wise, it is important not to live so wisely that you start living a “holier-than-thou” lifestyle.

In regards to 1:8, “We long for truth and knowledge but are never satisfied with the explanations given us. We are unable to voice what we cannot comprehend. Taken in its full context, this is not an expression of cynical distrust in all belief systems. It is, rather, a humble recognition of our limitations as mortals. Unable to explain the world, we can only turn to God Himself as the source of truth. Again, the concreteness of Hebrew thought is seen in the way the writer expressed our inability to understand; it is the eye and ear that fail, not the invisible intellect.” When I first read the very last sentence of the comment made for 1:8, I had some difficulty comprehending it. After all, I assumed that it was the intellect that fails us when we live our lives selfishly. As I was praying about this, God gave me the insight that the comment is true. We all have intellect because that is simply the ability to learn and reason from a will or a feeling. The commentator pointed out that it is our eyes and ears that fail us figuratively speaking. There are a number of verses that point out the fact that human beings have eyes but do not see, and have ears but do not hear. It is important for Christians to use their eyes to see the big picture and to look around, paying attention to others around us and their needs. It is important to hear what God’s Spirit is telling us for His will to be done. 2:24-25, “There is nothing better for man than to eat, drink, and to enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand. For who can eat and who can enjoy life apart from Him?” 2:13-14, “And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness. The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.”

In regards to 2:3, “It seems absurd that the author claimed to have sought out “how to grasp folly” while asserting that his mind was still guiding him “with wisdom.” He was saying that he experimented in pleasure but never lost his perspective. In the process he came to a clear understanding that a life of refined self-gratification did not satisfy.” Pleasing only ourselves does not last very long, however, pleasing others can last a lifetime. 2:11 accentuates this as the author discovers what happens when one lives only for himself, “When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

3:1-8 are well known verses because of the famous song, Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKHstR6ndus
3:9-15 are worth pointing out as well, “What does the worker gain from his struggles? I have seen the task that God has given people to keep them occupied. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him. Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what has passed.”

In regards to 3:19-20, “Ecclesiastes appears to be rejecting the idea of an afterlife. What the author was questioning, however, may have been the materialistic notions of afterlife that predominated in ancient Egypt, where people thought that after death a powerful man could continue to enjoy his possessions, his women, and the services of his slaves. In short, this theology did not take seriously the finality of physical death (the great pyramids of the pharaohs were expressions of this view). Biblical theology, by contrast, takes death seriously as “the last enemy”; it is only by an act of God, the resurrection of Jesus, that we can overcome its finality.”

In regards to 4:2-3, “The author expressed his dissatisfaction with the wretched human situation in extreme terms, using hyperbole (exaggeration) to drive home his point. Statements such as “better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed” are not to be taken as literal assertions that the world would be a better place if people were never born. Nor are such declaration an indication of a depressed or suicidal state on Solomon’s part. Hebrew wisdom literature operates by encircling an issue and approaching it from a variety of viewpoints. Later, Solomon came to a clear affirmation of the value of life.”

In regards to 4:5-6, “These two proverbs illustrate the dialogue-like method of Hebrew wisdom literature. Verse 5 attacks the fool for his laziness, and verse 6 teaches that a life of vexation through overwork is miserable. The proverbs are set side by side to force the reader to consider the folly both of laziness and of working to exhaustion. Instead of going straight toward his point, the writer moved toward it from one direction, then another. The proverbs are not contradictory, but complementary.”

5:10-12, “The one who loves money is never satisfied with money, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile. When good things increase, the ones who consume them multiply; what, then, is the profit to the owner, except to gaze at them with his eyes? The sleep of the worker is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich permits him no sleep.” 5:18-20, “Here is what I have seen to be good: it is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward. God has also given riches and wealth to every man, and He has allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift of God, for he does not often consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.”

In regards to 6:4-5, “In verses 1-6, Ecclesiastes says that a wealthy man who never learns to enjoy life is no better off than a “stillborn child.” The description of the stillborn child is bleak: The child will have no experiences, no identity, and no place in the world. This was a rhetorical comparison to make the point that a life without joy is futile; the promise of the unborn child’s life is frustrated by his premature death in the same way that an outwardly successful man might never come to experience the benefits of living. This is not a teaching about the nature of life in the womb or a statement that abortion is morally insignificant because the fetus has no personhood. To the contrary, it is the futility of a stillbirth—in which the child at least has “more rest”—that exposes the equal absurdity of the man who has received life’s benefits but “aborts” his enjoyment of them.”

In regards to 7:16-17, “The text explicitly tells us not to be “excessively righteous” or “overly wise,” just as it tells us not to be “excessively wicked.” This would seem to say that a little wickedness and folly are acceptable, and even preferable. Ecclesiastes is concerned with the wise man’s efforts to gain control of life. Diligence is generally rewarded with prosperity and health, whereas those who are carefree or careless can quickly lose both. But the quest for prudence can go too far; a severely austere life can be joyless. By the same token, turning away from the constraints of a discipline life can bring trouble—even premature death. No one can avoid sinning to some degree in this life; it is part of our human condition, but the wise person will avoid such foolishness where possible, just as he or she will avoid carrying supposedly prudent behavior to a ridiculous extreme. The discussion here is not about God’s final judgment upon our lives, but about our daily conduct; in typical wisdom style the writer played one pole of behavior against another. If part of the book’s advice here seems to question what Jesus would later say about the need to “be perfect”, it is well to recall how Jesus illustrated that perfection in even-handed treatment of others reflected God’s love for all people. Nothing Ecclesiastes says in these verses contradicts that teaching; if anything, in its balanced approach to living, it reinforces it.”

7:29, “Only see this: I have discovered that God made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.” The commentary for 9:2 explains this, “This verse does not deny that righteousness is important. It asserts that right living cannot free us from mortality. Seen from the Christian perspective, this verse drives us to the grace of God, since nothing we can do will save us from the power of death.”

9:6-7, “Their love, their hate, and their envy have already disappeared, and there is no longer a portion for them in all that is done under the sun. Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes be white all the time.” From a Christian perspective, God has already accepted us from the blood of Christ and erased our sins, making us white as snow. There is no work to do for this kind of acceptance because Jesus has done it all.

12:13, “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.” In regards to 12:13, “Some argue that these words, “fear God and keep His commands,” are inconsistent with the rest of the book and that they must have been added by a later editor who wanted to make Ecclesiastes appear more “orthodox.” This view requires the interpreter to see the bulk of the book as the work of a cynical skeptic. In reality, Ecclesiastes is not “cynical” at all. It calls on us to face the significance of mortality: We will die, and all our accomplishments will die with us. Because life is short and we are weak, we should enjoy the time we have. But we should also abandon excessive and prideful efforts to control life; it is in the hands of God, not our own, and ultimately our mortality drives us to Him as “the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

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