Today’s Scripture Focus: Ecclesiastes 1:2-14
Today we begin our annual six week study in the Wisdom section of scripture. This section of the Bible includes the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Wisdom literature is different from other sections of the Old Testament, in that it is meant to teach general observations and truths, rather than theology, history, or covenant. Most of the Old Testament is built around telling the story of God’s agreement with Israel, how God blessed them when they kept that agreement, and how they suffered when they broke it. Wisdom literature, however, often uses poetry to explore questions that arise if it seems God is silent or absent.
This year we will focus on Ecclesiastes. The name of the book means “gatherer”, and is one of the earliest forms of the word “teacher” or “preacher”. This is how the author identifies himself in the first verse. Traditionally, Ecclesiastes has been attributed to Solomon, though the work itself is anonymous. The reason the church has generally given Solomon credit for writing Ecclesiastes is because the author is identified as a son of David, a king, as someone known for his great wisdom, and as someone who accumulated great wealth. We will assume for our study that the book was at the very least written in the spirit of Solomon.
The main theme of Ecclesiastes is given in the second verse—”Vanity of vanities!” This is a difficult phrase to translate. The NIV captures the idea with the word “meaningless”, but “vanity” goes beyond that. It is a form of the word “vapor”. The Teacher wants his audience to know that everything “under the sun” is as fleeting as a wisp of smoke. Anytime the Bible describes something as “_____ of _____’, it means it is the greatest or largest (ie. Song of songs, king of kings, etc.) So in other words, the “vanity of vanities” is the greatest puff of smoke imaginable! What is this huge vanity? Life itself.
“What is the meaning of life? How can I be happy?” These are questions that have been around since long before Solomon. Ecclesiastes is written from the perspective of someone who has spent years pursuing wisdom and wealth. We will discover a timely message as we journey through these scriptures together—one that is possibly more needed in our day than in the days of Solomon. The pursuit of wealth and pleasure does not result in happiness. Work and study do not always lead to happiness. The truth is, there is no happiness guarantee in this life. Instead, each moment has value in and of itself as an opportunity to please God.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
A recent poll showed most Americans are less happy than they were ten years ago. Why do you think this is? What would it take for people to be happier today?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?