Ecclesiastes Lesson 2 Study Plan
II. Read 5:1, 3, 5, and 6.
If all is futile, why is Solomon challenging the reader to act in one way versus another? Rather, what is he teaching?
(The decisions we make do matter. As in Proverbs, we should fear God and act in accord with the wisdom of Divine teachings. It’s interesting that Solomon begins here with guidance as to speech. Why?
III. Read 5:7.
We’re seeing here what underlies most of the book. Solomon sees things that are wrong or don’t make sense and is asking how we are to deal with it.
First, he saw the futility in the material world. Here he sees injustice and opines on the reality that many evildoers persist in what they do because they think they can get away with it. Solomon concludes our comfort is the faith in a God who will - in Divine time - respond, and that justice will always ultimately be done.
Look, too, at 7:15-16 and 8:5-7, 11-13, 14.
IV. Read 5:9.
We return to the futility of seeking material abundance in chapter 5. It continues at the beginning of chapter 6. Ironically, God does not bless those with great riches with “the power to enjoy it.” Rather “a stranger will enjoy it.” (6:1-2) This condition, along with anxiety and worry is a source of the feeling of futility, “a vexation of the spirit.” 6:9
Working the land and being satisfied with the work and its yield is the right way. (5:17-19)
This is totally consistent with the teachings of Proverbs.
V. A. Read 7:1. Explain.
(The good one does matter more than the finest commodity, especially one that was used in ancient times to preserve the body.
A life well lived should be the marker of the day of death. While there’s potentiality, to be sure, there is no development yet of the soul on the day of birth.)
B. Read 11-13, 19.
Has Solomon changed his mind? He earlier wrote disparagingly about wisdom, money, and that which is “under the sun.” Can you explain the meaning here?
(“Wisdom is good with an inheritance” can mean many things. It does help to have means to afford the time to study. But, more important, inheritance likely means tradition - good family upbringing, the teachings one inherits in the sacred (like Solomon’s writings, the Bible, et. al.).
It matters a lot to have this wisdom when living in the world, under the sun, to distinguish on behalf of the soul and for its interests and simply to fare well in life in the world.
Why the mention of: “In the shelter of money?” While Solomon preaches against seeking excessive riches, it is never argued that one shouldn’t have the support and comfort of resources.
Wisdom does persevere, and it helps preserve our lives. This is especially important as to the spiritual, the enduring.
VII. Read 8:15-9:1.
Here we see an internal summary of a good part of Solomon’s thinking. What is it?
(He began by thinking the life is futile and one should simply eat, drink, and be merry. But he came to understand it more truly, that all is the work of God, and that while one cannot understand all that is under the sun, one can, through wisdom, see that “the righteous and the wise together with their actions are in the hand of God.”
This has led him to realize that how he lives matters. Thus, we now understand his recent teachings.
Let’s go further.)
VIII. A. Solomon repeats the basis for his (and our) concern in 9:3. What does he say?
(All (that is material) under the sun is futile (evil), and we all die. This is painful to him and to us.)
B. What do we do about it?
First: 7-10. Live fully with what you have been blessed and earned and do so with joy, and with your wife.
Second: 13, 16, and 17. Follow the direction of wisdom. This leads us back to Proverbs, which is reflected throughout the pearls of chapter 10.
Read 10:10, 11, 12-15, 16-17, and 18 as a commentary on Solomon’s conclusions, and discuss their meaning to our discussion.
Solomon’s advice continues in 11:1-3, 6. Discuss.
IX. Conclusion – Solomon wraps up with 12:1 (with an amazing account of aging in the subsequent verses!) and 11, 13-14.
Let’s wrap up by reflecting on the journey that Solomon has taken. Where are we? What have we learned? What do we take away from our study?