Friday, July 14, 2006

My Thoughts on Ecclesiastes

Well, I must admit it has been a while since I opened my Bible to the book of Ecclesiastes. I just finished reading it, and boy am I depressed. The whole book basically lays out what life would be like if God didn't care about us and there were no afterlife. It doesn't matter if you
are good or bad because there's no justice, everything is left up to chance. So you'd be best off not toiling away to grasp things that are here today and tomorrow forgotten. Everyone dies in the end. So eat, drink, and be merry today, for who knows (or even cares) what tomorrow brings?

I found myself not willing to trust the author. He seemed like a thoroughly bored rich guy. He talks about how he's wise, and how he knows everything that happens under the sun, and how he's had every pleasure humanly possible-- with a very arrogant flair. He says, "It's all vanity, futility" with a smug self-pity that I just don't respond well to. But then I remember that this isn't a personal letter, it's a well-crafted peice of literature with intentions to provoke this exact response in me, probably.

But I honestly don't know why this book is even in the Bible. We don't need to read about this way of life, the pleasure-seeking, nothing matters because God doesn't care attitude. It's all around us. It has saturated our culture. When I open my Bible I want to find hope... and Ecclesiastes doesn't offer any. Not even a "Hey reader, I was just making a point- aren't you glad that God isn't like this?" at the end, which would've been nice.


  1. I agree totally with you about the futile feelings you get from reading Ecclesiastes. That's why my favorite verse is from Philippians 4:8-9.


  2. Lots of people over the last 1600 years or so have had trouble with this book. One way to look at it is that the author is writing in reaction to the style of wisdom literature found in Proverbs or Song of Solomon, which he views as platitudes, too simple to cover the really complex questions of life. He is intentionally elliptical, making many of the same points that God himself makes in the last few chapters of Job. He wants us to realize that faith is has nothing to do with knowing the answers to these questions. Faith is NOT knowing the answers, but still believing.

  3. ...But do you really believe if you don't know for sure?


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