I think that today and next time will still be sort of introductory to Ecclesiastes, not yet getting into the book itself for a real study. Today I will try to look briefly at the author of the book, Solomon, as I believe. Next time, I will look at my simple outline of the book, that is, my basic, overall, simple outline, which we can fill in in more detail as we study the sections of the book.
First of all, let’s look at the author. I won’t go into all the other ideas that commentators have about the author. To me, it is self-evident that Solomon is the author and no argument I have read to the contrary can shake that conviction. In fact, each time I have found the arguments against Solomon as author to be futile.
Solomon was in the prime of his life. He had become king in Israel following David’s death. He had married his first wife and built her a palace all to herself. He had built the Temple of God. He had made Jerusalem so beautiful that it was the envy and confusion of all who visited there. He had acquired innumerable servants and built a host of projects in industry and in architecture and in agriculture. He had invaded the fine arts’ arena by acquiring musicians and singers, the finest of that day. He had traveled enough and conversed with enough people so that he felt that his experience covered the whole range of all human experiences everywhere, both their joys and aspirations and also their frustrations and sorrows.
While Solomon may have begun also to multiply wives by this time, it is my conviction that he had not yet been dragged down by them to the spiritual poverty that marked the end of his life. This book is written after much and varied experience but also while he was at the apex of spiritual understanding, before he departed from God and ruined his reputation.
The fact that Solomon had all this experience and all this understanding and still fell into sin later is a strong warning for us as God’s people. We can see that often Christians can have things straight, can be well used of God, but can stand so in their own strength that at length they fall – not from grace, for they are still God’s children, but – into great and grievous sin that destroys their future usefulness in God’s kingdom. This happened to David, the “man after God’s own heart” who found himself in constant chastisement after the great sin near the end of his life. And it happened also to Solomon, who did so many wonderful things for God’s people, who even wrote three books of Scripture besides several Psalms, but who then found himself falling into gross sins near the end of his life which resulted in great chastisement and loss of influence…in fact, a whole chapter of KINGS is devoted to discussing how great his departure and sins were!
The warning for us is the warning against spiritual pride. For those of us who do seek the will of God, who try by grace to walk in His ways, it is possible for us at length to begin to see that God has indeed been working in us and using us…and then to fall into the pride of comparing ourselves with others. Following this, God may chasten us by allowing us to fall into serious sin so that we again must give Him all the glory and praise for our salvation instead of exalting ourselves.
The truth, of course, is that any good found in any Christian is only of grace, is only the work of God. If He gives us dedicated Christian parents…that is His work, His gift to us, nothing of ourselves. If He gives us insight into His Word, that is His gift, nothing of which to be proud but only something to cultivate. If He gives us the ability to make friends, it is a gift, and we may not exult in that but use it carefully for Him. Whatever we have, it is all of Him and must be used unto Him.
P.S. I must add yet that there is no PROOF one way or the other whether Solomon wrote this book before or after his fall into sin. My minister believes it was after his fall into sin! I believe it was before his fall into sin because: (1) nowhere else does Scripture picture a repentance on Solomon’s part following his fall, while it talks much about the fall itself; and (2) in his fall he lost his “wisdom” which in Ecclesiastes was still with him. Yes, he remained a child of God despite his fall, so there must have been a private repentance before God, but publicly there was no open repentance and he was strongly indicted. Even after the Captivity nearly 1000 years later, he was cited as an example of what the people should not do!
- What are some reasons why others believe Solomon is not the author of Ecclesiastes? Can you refute their arguments?
- What arguments are there for Solomon writing this after his fall into sin?
- What arguments are there for Solomon’s writing this before his fall into sin?