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The Author of Ecclesiastes
It is a common understanding that the Book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. The phrase, “son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1), is evidence supporting Solomon as its author. It is also the undisputed opinion of all scholars that Solomon wrote the wisdom books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and also the Song of Songs.
Solomon stands as the sole qualified person to write the Book of Ecclesiastes simply because no other writer can match his wisdom. “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs” (Ecclesiastes 12:9). Such an understanding makes the “Preacher” of the Book of Ecclesiastes none other but King Solomon.
When Was it Written?
Although the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes is identified, we can’t determine the exact date for the writing. Modern scholars commonly believe that the author wrote the book in the 3rd century B.C. However, king Solomon died in the year 931/930 b.c. So, if we assume that he is the author, the date of writing would be before that time.
The order of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew canon can pinpoint the estimated date of the addition of the book into the canon. First, the Book of Ecclesiastes is added to the Megilloth, the five miscellaneous books—Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. Second, the Book of Ecclesiastes is one of the last five books in the Hebrew canon—Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra–Nehemiah, and Chronicles.
In both cases, we find the Book of Ecclesiastes immediately preceding Esther. This may propose that these two books became part of the canon at around the same period. Also, it is likely that the author wrote the book centuries before compilers added it to the cannon.
Wisdom Literature and the Song of Solomon
The difference in the style of Book of Ecclesiastes, as compared with that of Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, is due to the various subject matter. Also, it could be due to growth in Solomon’s later experience in life. The Song of Solomon ascribed to the time of Solomon’s first love for God in his early youth. Whereas Proverbs to a later period and the Book of Ecclesiastes to the close of his life (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
12 Famous Verses in the Book of Ecclesiastes
There are famous verses that were written by Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Let us look at some of them:
- “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). The Preacher says that anything a person may seek in place of God and obedience to Him is “vanity.” Solomon emphasizes the futility and unsatisfactory end of all human life unless it be focused on the Creator. And he adds, “I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
- “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4).
- “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). In early life, a person is physically at the maximum of his strength. It is then that his strength should be devoted to God and used for His glory. Because when he becomes old and feeble, he will suffer infirmities and disabilities.
- “For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it” (Ecclesiastes 7:12). True wisdom can bring a man into a right relationship with God, which leads to eternal life (Psalms 111:10).
- “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The wise person will put his heart into the work of his life, knowing that after death there will be no chance to make up for opportunities ignored in this life (John 9:4; Galatians 6:10).
- “For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God” (Ecclesiastes 5:7). Knowing God is the most important purpose in life.
- “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). It is man’s duty to obey God, and in so doing he will find ultimate happiness.
- “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him” (Ecclesiastes 8:12). God’s judgment will vindicate His children (Isaiah 3:11; Matthew 16:27; Revelation 20:11–15).
- “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, so that man can find out nothing that will come after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14). When things go well with one, he should be happy and thankful. But if things do not go well, he should not complain.
- “Better a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more” (Ecclesiastes 4:13). The humble poor youth is teachable whereas the old king is stubborn and set in his ways.
- “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Even with man’s mind darkened by sin, he still knows that he should live beyond the sad path of this unfulfilling life.
- “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work” (Ecclesiastes 3:17). People should remember that they will stand before God for judgement one day.
In His service,