The basic theme of Ecclesiastes is the futility of living for this world without any concern for the next world which is eternity.  It also speaks about having a world view which includes the fear of God and obedience to him plus it speaks about contentment.  The name “Ecclesiastes” means “the or a preacher.”  The book was penned by Solomon who reigned from 970-930 B.C. and was probably written toward the end of his reign since no specific date is given.  The wisdom given in this book looks like it was amassed over the years.  Ecclesiastes is not be confused with the apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus which was written by a man named Ben Sira in Jerusalem between 200-175 B.C.  Ecclesiasticus is not a canonical book.


Ecclesiastes 1:1

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.


When we think of a preacher we assume it is one who is bringing the gospel message in a church setting but here the word preacher refers to an official title of one who addresses an assembly.  Here Solomon identifies himself as the son of David who lived in Jerusalem.


Ecclesiastes 1:2

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.


Here Solomon begins with a statement that all is vanity which means everything which is done in our lives on earth which is not done for the Lord and in light of eternity.  The word “vanity” is the Hebrew word “heh'bel” which carries with it the meaning of “emptiness, transitory, or worthless.”  The Apostle Paul had a similar theme in 1 Corinthians 3 when he penned, Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  (1 Corinthians 3:12)  Vain works are built upon wood, hay and stubble which means they will be burnt up because they were of no value.


Ecclesiastes 1:3

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?


Then Solomon asks the question concerning the profit that a man garners from his labor.  God has commanded men to work for a living but if that man spends his time concerning himself with only the things of earth and does not concern himself with eternal life, then what has been his profit?  Jesus spoke about this in the gospels.  For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  (Matthew 16:26) 


Ecclesiastes 1:4

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.


Solomon speaks about the cycle of life whereas one generation will pass away as a new generation comes on the scene and this will continue until the last day.  My paternal grandfather was born in 1887 and died in 1975, my father was born in 1917 and died in 2007, I was born in 1953.  This same scenario continues on in every earthly family.  The earth abiding forever means that the generations come and go but the earth on which they are born remains.  There will come a time when the earth will actually remain forever when God remakes the New Heavens and the New Earth.  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  (2 Peter 3:13) 


Ecclesiastes 1:5

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.


Then Solomon refers to the creation itself.  The sun rises on the earth in the east and goes down in the western sky and then we have night until the sun once again repeats its daily routine of bringing light to the part of the earth which was darkened by night.  This verse also reveals how the sun has been appointed by God to continue to give warmth and light to the world, even an inanimate object like the sun obeys the commands that God gave it when he created it.  And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.  (Genesis 1:16) 


Ecclesiastes 1:6

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.


Then Solomon turns to the wind.  At one instance the wind will be coming from the north and blows towards the south and then as weather patterns change, the wind will then shift to a northerly direction.  The wind continues to blow all over the earth and when it finishes its circuit, which is the circle of the earth, then it returns and starts all over again.


Ecclesiastes 1:7

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.


This is something I never thought about until I became saved and started studying the Bible.  The rivers of the world all empty out into a lake, ocean, gulf, sea, or whatever and the rivers keep pouring the water into the outlets and the outlets are never filled or overflowing.  For example, the Mississippi River flows 2320 miles (3734 km) south beginning in Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and emptying in the Gulf of Mexico and yet the source never dries up and the Gulf of Mexico never overflows the banks of the coast lines.  The Nile River in Egypt keeps flowing and emptying.  The Amazon River in South America keeps flowing and emptying.  The Volga River in Russia keeps flowing and emptying.  The Danube River in Europe keeps flowing and emptying.  These rivers have been doing this cycle for thousands of years and will continue until the last day.


Ecclesiastes 1:8

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.


Everything on this earth has some form of labor attached to it.  The labor can be so great that man cannot even speak about it or understand it.  Basically, it is speaking about the weariness which labor causes.  How many times have you come home from work exhausted just to start the routine all over again at the break of day?  The eye was made for seeing and the ears were made to hear but the inward desires of man craves more beyond their senses.  Since the eyes and ears are also part of the routine which a person does each day, the senses want to look beyond the normal daily routine and discover better and new things which in and of themselves would soon become routine and send a craving for more.  Many in Hollywood are multi-millionaires and can have anything this world offers and yet how many get hooked on drugs, alcohol, or become sex addicts because their wealth does not satisfy and their restless spirits desire grander things to heighten the senses which eventually spells their doom.  The Apostle Paul spoke of being content in whatever position he was in.  {11} Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  {12} I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  (Philippians 4:11-12)  Contentment is a lesson all people can learn from. 


Ecclesiastes 1:9

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.


Things that existed in the past will also exist in the future.  For example on this earth many tried to rule the earth through empires such as Babylon, Assyria, Rome, Greece, and those things are those that had been.  In modern times we saw Germany and Japan desiring to have empires and rule the world but now they are those that had been.  In our time we saw the Soviet Union and Red China desiring to rule the world.  Now we see the American Empire being spread throughout all the world until it to will become something that had been.  Things which were done in the past will also be done in the future.  People invented many things in the past and people are inventing things today and that will also be done in the future.  Organized crime has been around for thousands of years and continues to today and will continue in the future.  Solomon then tells us based upon the history of man, there is nothing new under the sun.  We may have new toys but the same desires direct those toys to whatever end we want.  The issues of life all remain the same.  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  (Proverbs 4:23)