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Ecclesiastes (Index thread);- Remember your Creator

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posted on Apr, 9 2021 @ 05:00 PM
The central message of the book of Ecclesiastes is “Remember your Creator, because otherwise your life is vanity”.

It is not easy to understand the structure of this book and follow the thread of the argument. One popular summary of the books of the Old Testament compares Ecclesiastes to “ a five-year diary”- because the writer begins by describing what he’s been doing, I suppose. The comparison that occurs to me, on first glance, is the “commonplace book”; that is, the kind of notebook often used by literary men over the last few centuries, to record thoughts and observations for future use.

In fact it is fairly easy to follow a thread through the early chapters, as far as a preliminary conclusion. The basic message at that point is that men should be pursuing their work quietly under God, without going astray by attempting to go beyond what God has given them. But then the thread gets lost through a series of apparently unconnected meditations. Much of what follows looks like an assortment of “footnotes” under the general heading “other flaws noticeable in human life when God is disregarded”. The final chapters complete the original argument, drawing upon the thoughts which emerge in the intermediate chapters.

if this book has a reputation in the modern world as an unspiritual work, offering “merely human wisdom”, that is probably because the casual reader finds it hard to seize hold of the basic thread of the message and see where the book is heading. The attention is drawn, instead, by some of the preliminary remarks which the Preacher makes on the way to his final conclusion.

One factor which complicates the structure is that a second writer must be involved. The original writer clearly intended his manuscript to begin and end with “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, all is vanity” (ch1 v2, ch12 v8). Another person seems to have added the opening verse (the title page) identifying the Preacher, and the last six verses (the blurb on the back cover of the paperback) praising the Preacher and “the sayings of the wise”. My theory on this feature was that the manuscript was being presented to the world after the death of the original writer. I did wonder if the second person also found the “footnotes” on separate pieces of paper and incorporated them into the main text, but I’ve given up on that thought. The basic plan of the book is fundamental, though it seems to have evolved over time.

In case anyone is offended by my suggestion that another writer took part, even to that limited extent, I will repeat the answer I gave in the last thread. That is, supposing a book of the Bible to contain words by more than one person does not necessarily clash with any theory of inspiration. If God wants to bring a book into the world, he can work through two people just as easily as he can work through one.


Vanity of vanities

Ch1 vv1-11
Variations on the theme that the natural world is always the same, and that changes take place only in the form of repetitive natural cycles. The human mind looks for new things and does not find them.
“This is vanity” is not really about finding fault with the world. The fault is in the human mind, which is looking for the wrong things instead of being satisfied with what is there already.

Two inquiries

Ch1 vv12-18
What satisfaction is achieved, if anything, by the things which men do? Are they able to take pleasure from the world?
What satisfaction is achieved, if anything, by the things which men think? Are they able to gain prosperity and reputation?

The pursuit of pleasure

Ch2 vv1-11
On the first inquiry, he establishes that there is no satisfaction in the pursuit of pleasure, whether pleasure of sensation or pleasure of ownership.

The limits of wisdom

Ch2 vv12-26
On the second inquiry, he establishes that prosperity does not outlast a man, nor does his reputation. Indeed, his reputation and his prosperity may both pass to men who haven’t earned it.

In summary, men are ambitious to achieve things beyond immediate enjoyment of life. But these “better” things are unavailable to men, and working with wisdom instead of folly does not make them more available.
That is why he concludes that there is “nothing better” than a plain enjoyment of the means which God supplies for maintaining life. “This is from the hand of God.”

There is a season

Ch3 vv1-8
Illustrating the conclusion just reached. The positive things and the negative things of this world all have their duly appointed place and time.

Everything beautiful in its time

Ch3 vv9-15
We now learn that everything is beautiful as long as it keeps to its right place and time. That is where the human worker should be finding satisfaction.

God has put “eternity” into man’s mind. That is, the awareness that there is something beyond himself.
This incomplete knowledge puts him halfway between the beasts, who know nothing about eternity, and God, who knows everything about eternity.
God has established this arrangement so that men should “fear before him”.
That is the preliminary conclusion of the main argument.

posted on Apr, 9 2021 @ 05:01 PM

The fate of men and beasts

Ch3 vv16-22
Aspects of eternity.
The writer observes that righteousness and wickedness are not judged properly in this world, and infers that God will establish his own judgement at a later stage.

He also observes that while men resemble beasts in many ways, there is a possibility, which must not be ignored, of a difference in what happens to their spirits. Perhaps the human spirit really does go “upward”. Who knows, for certain?

Coveting and isolation

Ch4 vv1-12
He notes the vexations which are caused by covetousness
“Oppression” is covetousness directed against the less powerful.
“Envy” is covetousness inspired by the more wealthy.
Then there is the miser, who toils to accumulate for his own benefit alone, without giving himself time to enjoy the benefits.
This prompts thoughts on why it is better for men to work in company instead of working alone..

The new gets old

Ch4 vv13-16
A little parable on the way that a fresh new king, perceived as a welcome replacement for the tired old king, becomes in turn the tired old king who will be replaced by a welcome new arrival.

We learned even in the first chapter that looking for new things in the world was “vanity”. We now learn not to look for any lasting benefit in being the new thing in the world for other people. In other words, the quest for fame achieves as little as the quest for prosperity.

Wasted words

Ch5 vv1-7
Men spend too much time talking, when they should be listening to God

Lost gains

Ch5 vv8-20
The various ways in which our toil is wasted, so that we cannot enjoy the results.
Some of it, by corruption, goes to benefit other people.
Misers are so obsessed with keeping their gain that they will not allow themselves to enjoy the benefits.
Some wealthy people find their wealth dissipated in the cost of keeping their servants.
Others lose their wealth in the accidents of bad fortune.

This brings the writer back to the conclusions reached in the main argument;
“What I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life which God has given him, for this is his lot.”

Lost enjoyment

Ch6 vv1-6
Further thoughts on this theme.
Some wealthy men have no children to inherit from them.
Others, perhaps because they are misers, may as well have no children.
Such men have no peace in life, no proper burial, no peace after life.

This is where I first noticed a similarity to the complaints in Job.

Don’t argue with God

Ch6 vv7-12
The previous three passages have shown how our efforts are wasted when we seek for more than what God has given us. Once again, the moral is that we should be content with what God is giving us.

We need to remember that we are not God. Only God knows the future, and only God can decide how to make things work out for the best.

Remember to die

Ch 7 vv1-12
This passage looks like a collection of proverbs.
The writer has been promoting “enjoyment of life, with reference to God”.
He now begins to stress the importance of being aware of the prospect of death. This is another way of detaching ourselves from the over-active business of this world and referring ourselves to God. Either way, the patient man submits himself to God, for the sake of the work which God has given him to do.

The passage ends with a “wisdom is a good thing” statement. Over the next few chapters, the writer seems to insert these almost as “paragraph markers” between themes.

For better or for worse

Ch7 vv13-19
The thought running through these verses is that God has put us into a world of mixed experiences, containing things that feel good and things that feel bad. It is for us to accept both kinds of experience as the gift of God. A prose version of the poem about “there is a season”.

We are deliberately left with gaps in our knowledge, especially in our knowledge of the future. Thus we may understand our subordinate place. We cannot “master” the universe by knowing it, to show us that we do not master it in any other sense.

The last verse is another “paragraph marker”.

Not one righteous

Ch7 vv20-29
This passage is dominated by the word “find”. The summit of knowledge which the writer finds in his quest for knowledge is that mankind is not righteous. God made them upright, but they found many ways to become sinful.

In this case, the paragraph marker is at the beginning of the next chapter.

edit on 9-4-2021 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 9 2021 @ 05:02 PM
Obey your king

Ch8 vv1-9
This advice to the servants of the king is also applicable to the servants of God. In fact there is an almost seamless transition from the issue of “obedience to the king” to the issue of “man’s relationship with God”. We are reminded, again, that man cannot know the future, which remains in God’s hands. In particular, we have no power over the time of our death.

The wrong people get rewarded and punished

Ch8 vv10-15
The title expresses the theme, which was also Job’s main grievance. Once again, the moral is that man should settle down to enjoy life under God, accepting the work which God has given him. That is, instead of questioning the way that God has arranged the world.

We cannot find it out

From ch8 v16 to ch9 v6
What me cannot “find out” is the way God works in managing the world. His knowledge is far beyond us. That includes the previously-mentioned problem of why the righteous and the wicked are rewarded in inappropriate ways. In fact, in a prose version of the “times and seasons” poem, we are shown that good and evil human conduct form part of the system of contrasting pairs which have their appropriate time and place in the world which God has made.

However, there is compensation in the fact that everybody dies. Once the wicked are dead, that goes some way towards restoring the balance of justice

Rejoice in God’s approval

Ch9 vv7-12
When the righteous enjoy the life that God has given them, that is the other side of restoring the balance of justice, if only provisionally. The statement that God already approves of what they do implies that their sins have been forgiven.

They are told to do with all their might whatever their hand finds to do, another version of the injunction to “enjoy the work which God has given you.” Here there is the additional motive, that they won’t get any chance to do all these things in Sheol. And it is God who decides when our death comes.

Ch8 began with a “wisdom is a good thing” statement, and the end of this chapter has more of the same. If these are understood as “paragraph markers”, the implication is that these two chapters (these four threads) form one long theme.


The fool’s heart inclines to the left

From ch9 v13 to Ch10 v7
The repeated advice to “enjoy the life and work that God has given you” may be regarded as the epitome of wisdom. So these proverbs (collected from elsewhere?) focus on describing the Fool.

The fool and his pitfalls

Ch10 vv8-15
The fool is prone to endanger himself at work.
Also he talks too much.

When the princes feast in the morning

Ch10 vv16-20
One particular form of “folly” is the problem of the land which does not have a king strong enough to restrain corruption.


Cast your bread upon the waters

Ch11 vv1-6
The writer returns to giving advice to those who want to regard God in their lives.
Since they cannot know the future, they should not allow their uncertainty about the future to deter them from getting on with the work God has given them. They need to live in trust.

While you are young

From ch11 v7 to ch12 v1
This now updates and completes the original argument, drawing on the thoughts which emerged in the intervening chapters.
He declares that “the light is sweet”, which is even more affirmative than “There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil”.
However, there are three things which young men should remember, to encourage them to make the best use of their lives.
Remember that you must die.
Remember that there will be a judgement.
And above all, Remember your Creator.

Men get old and die

Ch12 vv1-8
Young men should consider these things while there is time, before they get old and die. To emphasise this point, the fact that men get old and die is elaborated at length.

The culmination of these things is that the physical body returns to the earth and the spirit returns to the God who gave it. But which of those two represents “man goes to his eternal home”? The writer leaves that question open.

The original manuscript evidently ends, as it began, with the declaration “Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, all is vanity.”


Ch12 vv9-14
The final six verses, praising the Preacher and supplying a new ending, must have been added by a second writer, at the time of (posthumous?) publication.

edit on 9-4-2021 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 9 2021 @ 05:13 PM
I will add links to two other thread series, which come from the same thought-world and pperhaps even the same generation.


edit on 9-4-2021 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 10 2021 @ 12:06 PM
A man could remember God all the days of his life and it would be of no avail to him. He would still go to hell!

posted on Apr, 10 2021 @ 12:13 PM
a reply to: ChesterJohn
I am simply reporting what the Preacher wrote. He's the one you're attacking now.
Presumably remembering God is better than not remembering God, which would be the point.

posted on Apr, 10 2021 @ 01:14 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

NO attack But at the same time don't give anyone false hope in somthing that wont benefit them one Iota.

It is not written to you today it is for you to learn from but no knowledge of God, even thanking him will get anyone to heaven apart from the finished work of Christ work of the cross. Which was no where in sight when SOLOMON wrote the book of Eccl.

It wouldn't do you any more to remember him or not to if you don't know Christ as personal Lord and Savior.
edit on 4/10/2021 by ChesterJohn because: (no reason given)

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