1. An Anonymous Source
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem. –Ecclesiastes 1:1
Let’s start from the beginning. The first verse in Ecclesiastes is the closest thing we are given to the identity of the author. This is intentional. The mystery of the author allows us to focus less on the individual who wrote the book, and more on the familiar journey of wrestling with God.
We are meant to identify with the struggle the author is going through. “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is Meaningless.” This phrase is repeated over and over, questioning the significance that our life has.
While later in the book, more clues are dropped of the author’s identity, no name is specifically given. The consensus among biblical scholars is that Solomon wrote it. Whoever the author was, let’s take this as a message to every person, from an individual who is struggling in the same ways we are.
2. Distance From God
As you read through Ecclesiastes, something begins to strike you as odd. Ecclesiastes is a sermon, given to individuals to share its wisdom. However, the language of the sermon never becomes personal with God. If you look, you will not find “Yahweh”, “the Lord”, or “God of Israel” written anywhere.
Like many of us, the author is struggling with an internal battle. This battle has caused him to distance himself from God. However, just because we distance ourselves from God, doesn’t mean God finds us out of reach. We cannot go anywhere God cannot find us.
With the author specifically, God blessed him with wisdom. Much like lifting weights, in which we tear down our muscles in order to build them up stronger, God is allowing the author to go through this struggle in order to build greater strength in the end.
3. The Conclusion of the Matter
Now all has been heard;
Here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
For this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
Including every hidden thing,
Whether it is good or evil. –Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Say what you will about the author, but the guy can really bring it home! After all of the internal struggles, all of the arguments, and all of the conflict, the author comes to a strong conclusion in the end. Our purpose, as the children of God, is to fear him and follow his commandments for our lives.
This is comforting, because how many times do we find ourselves asking why we’re here? Why am I made this way? What is the significance of my life? It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone. In the grand scheme of things, Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, Michael Jordan, Tom Cruise, and I all have the same purpose. “Fear God and keep his commandments”.
The last part of the author’s conclusion is also uplifting. God will bring judgement to everything we do. While this usually brings up grim images in our minds because of all the sin in our lives, the author specifically states that God will remember the good and the evil. God wants to rejoice in our good works with us. He finds pleasure when he sees us living out our lives the way we were created to. Just like a parent glowing about their child, God wants to celebrate these things with us.