1 The words of the Preacher [Divrei Kohelet], the son of David [Ben Dovid], king in Jerusalem [Melech in Yerushalayim].
The book of Ecclesiastes is a book for deep study and meditation. It is concerned with the age-old search for happiness and satisfaction. What is good? What is real? What is worthwhile? What is the great purpose and meaning of life?
Every verse is a well of knowledge -- a well of living waters. As we read them let us remember that they are the words of life to the Ecclesia of God -- Ecclesiastes -- a message to called-out ones. *
2 Vanity of vanities [Hevel havalim], saith the Preacher [Kohelet], vanity of vanities [Hevel havalim]; all is vanity [hevel].
3 What profit hath a man of all his labour [amal]which he taketh [hath toiled] under the sun [shemesh]?
Where does it all lead to? What does it accomplish? What is the basic purpose of life? We are reminded of Jesus' words--
"What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own life?"
5 The sun [shemesh] also ariseth, and the sun [shemesh] goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose [there to arise again].
Facts about the Sun and the Bible.-First fact: There is a sun. Second fact: There is to our earth but one sun. Third fact: Without the sun there would be no light to speak of. Fourth fact: We cannot understand the nature of the sun, its origin, or the mode of its existence: but this does not interfere with its reality or its usefulness to us. All these facts about the sun are facts about the Bible. It is to man what the sun is to the earth - the light of the world and the means of life; and its difficulties do not interfere with its power.
There are spots in the sun. There are difficulties in the Bible. It would be strange if it contained no difficulties. It has been written for the infancy, the youth, and the manhood of mankind. It is the great school-book of the world. And as such, it is always ahead of the foremost thinkers; presenting problems intellectual and moral for solution.
How it quickens the energies of man, may be seen in the immense amount of literature it has called into existence. Is the Bible a dull book? It certainly is to dull people, but to none besides. And the dullest of mortals, if he will read it patiently and perseveringly, will find that it will act like a whetstone upon his faculties, making him not only thoughtful, but intelligent. -Selected and Amended.
The Christadelphian, April 1887.
11 There is no zichron (remembrance) of former things; neither shall there be with those who come after any zikaron (recollection) of things that are to come.
The Sun, the wind, the rivers,--an endless cycle, over and over, generations come and go, and are forgotten--millions upon millions--there is nothing new. In our brief hour of existence, we are but a tiny speck in the endless, apparently meaningless stream. *
17 And I gave my heart [applied my lev] to know wisdom [da'as of chochmah], and to know madness [have da'as of holelot] and folly [sichlut]: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit [striving after ruach (wind)].
18 For in much wisdom [chochmah] is much grief [ka'as]: and he that increaseth knowledge [da'as] increaseth sorrow [mach'ov].
He considers knowledge and wisdom, the study of all things that exist, the endless marvels and beauties of creation. Is that the answer? -- the purpose of our life? No, not of itself. Fascinating as such study is -- still of itself it has no purpose or final satisfaction,
This is a very important point -- that we do not get side-tracked into the mere pursuit and esteeming of knowledge for its own sake:
"Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth" (1 Cor. 8:1).
Knowledge of itself and for itself is sterile, and caters only to pride.
Truly creation is marvellous, and natural curiosity is continually delighted with its infinite variety, but such knowledge of itself--though fascinating -- is lifeless and vain.
Even the knowledge of the Scriptures--though this is the only important knowledge--pursued simply as knowledge, is empty and dead if it does not transform the character and purify the heart.
"For in much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow" (v. 18).
Knowledge and wisdom of themselves just open up the heart to a greater experience and discernment of grief and sorrow and the utter vanity of all earthly things. *
* This Is The Whole Man - Brother Growcott