Too soon old, said a wise old sage, too late smart! Ecclesiastes is a rare treasure of the wisdom of experience — the experience of someone who had the capacity to try everything in life and concluded that life is basically empty and even absurd. Ecclesiastes is the sum total of the thoughts of a man who comes to the end of his life and has the wisdom to look back drawing some very important conclusions. I love the book because it is such a candid appraisal of the foolish nature of so much of human endeavor.
Ecclesiastes could well be the song of the post-modern mind because of its rejection of the optimism of the modern mind. It also is post-modern because it tends to emphasize the good of the here and now. It applauds an attitude that enjoys the blessings that God has given — good food, a glass of wine, the enjoyment of one’s work, wealth and good health to enjoy it (5:18-20; 8:15). The writer also commends marriage as a gift from God which is God’s compensation, he says, for one’s earthly toil (9:9-10).
In these latter thoughts lies the hint of grace for which the great need is so magnified by the contents of the rest of the book. The writer’s observations about life demonstrate that man’s obsessions with the world are absolutely futile without the experience of God’s grace which ultimately comes through the fear of the Lord (12:13). This grace theme is certainly not explicit, but it is in comparing this Scripture with every other piece that we realize why it is included in God’s Holy Word. This Book is a very important expression of why it is so important for us to reach out for the grace that has been extended to us in Jesus Christ.
I love this book because, strictly speaking, it is a philosophical treatment of the subject of life rather than a religious one. The older I grow and watch the ceaseless pursuits of all of humanity, the more I realize how foolish it all is — unless those endeavors are motivated by the fear of the Lord and the establishment of His kingdom. I think Ecclesiastes offers one of the most important messages of the Bible for our times because it is a very candid and realistic appraisal of life that can’t help but make us want to reach out for God in a way that overcomes human foolishness.