Life is a perplexing paradox, an enigma whose meaning and depth cannot be analyzed or measured,
or even understood fully. Indeed, the small child at innocent play seems to know
as much about life as the man who has lived a lifetime of ninety years.
Neither can really explain the meaning in living.
There may be nothing simple about life, but some things are within the grasp of understanding— life has both a beginning and an ending. And maybe this is the place to begin any analysis for in the last analysis we can safely say that life does not change— we are born in this world; we grow up in this world; we grow old in this world, and we eventually die and leave this world. Whoever we may be, whatever language we may speak, and whenever we may have lived, the story is the same. In Shakespeare’s words, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” (Tempest IV.i.).
Ecclesiastes talks about living in a way perhaps no other book ever does— either in Scripture or in profane literature. “There is nothing new under the sun” says this book, and it says it over and over again. The phrase, in fact, is a running refrain, reminding us that despite all the complexities, despite all the joys and sorrows, life does not really change. We may live in a modern world, but we live our life the same way our grandfathers lived theirs, and their grandfathers before them.
If you want to know how to live, it is here in this book. All your philosophy, all your psychology, all your wasted moments of trying to make sense out of the senseless cannot measure up to what you will find in Ecclesiastes. Here is God’s commentary on life. Here are the goads and nails, the words that prompt us into action and the words that hold things together— “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd” (Eccl. 12:11). Here is that which is secured with nails and on which we can hang things. Here is that which will direct and goad us in the right direction so that we do not take the wrong paths. Here is bedrock.
In our future studies we will look more closely at what Ecclesiasts has to say. We hope you’ll go on this journey with us. Maybe this book will become one of your favorites. I hope so. May you live all the days of your life. I wish you that.
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