The Genesis To Revelation Bible Course
By WILLIAM M. GROOM, Th.M., D.D.
Lesson No. 20 – Ecclesiastes
COPYRIGHT, 1921 BY THE BIBLE STUDY PUBLISHING CO.
Book of Ecclesiastes
* KEY VERSE–Ec 1:2.
* KEY PHRASE–“LIFE IS A DISAPPOINTMENT APART FROM GOD.”
Read the whole of Ecclesiastes this week, or:–
* Sunday–Pleasure Ends in Emptiness,–Ec 2:1-11.
* Monday–A. Time for Everything,–Ec 3:1-14.
* Tuesday–The Worship of God,–Ec 5:1-8.
* Wednesday–Foolishness of Greed,–Ec 6:1-10.
* Thursday–Value of a good name,–Ec 7:29.
* Friday–The Value of Wisdom,–Ec 9:1-10.
* Saturday–Satisfaction Only in God,–Ec 12.
NAME–The name Ecclesiastes means preacher, so-called because this book contains the meditations and sermons of the wise man, Solomon; so that another name would be “The Book of the Preacher.”
TIME OF WRITING–979 B. C.
SPECIAL NOTE–In reading, this book do not form spiritual judgments on the isolated verses. Inspiration set down accurately what the preacher said, just the same as the words of Satan are set down, Ge 3:4; Job 2:4. But just as we recognize that the words of Satan do not express the mind of God, so we should also recognize that the reasonings of a mere natural man, who leaves God out of account, will very often not express the mind of God. Solomon had been holy and happy, but in his old age became backslidden and cynical. In lamenting his own folly and mistakes, he utters many pessimistic sayings that show how he felt about life, but not what God teaches about life. However, he was wise enough to see the emptiness of pleasure, riches, folly, and impiety.
PURPOSE–To show that true happiness apart from God is impossible.
The Emptiness of:–
Great Fact I. The Emptiness of Pleasure
Ec 1; 3; 3.
The preacher first lays down the proposition that all things are unreal, and the results of human effort are deceitful, and that life is one unending round. As a scholar and thinker he finds no satisfaction, so he turns to mirth and pleasure. He engaged in banqueting and revelry, fleshly indulgence and worldly excitements; but the feverish excitement soon passed away and left him in a deeper gloom, so he exclaims in Ec 1:2, “All is vanity.”
LESSON–Disappointed men are found, not only on poor farms and in the ranks of the unemployed, but also in the ranks of high society and in the mansions of the fortunate in life. There is the man who is disappointed because he does not get, and there is the man who is disappointed because he DOES get, and the latter is by far worse of the two. The man who is disappointed because he does NOT get may have still the fascination of his hopes before him. But the man who has got what he desires and is then disappointed has pricked the bubble and knows the
meaning of emptiness and vexation of spirit. The last was the disappointment of Solomon. The selfish man always a disappointed man. This book reveals utter selfishness. It is all I, I, I,–I made, I got, I did, I had, I sought, and that is the end of it all. There is a great art in choosing beneficial pleasures. No Christian in his best moments would sanction those pleasures that lead to immorality or gambling. On the other hand, after all the questionable things are left out there are so many pure and elevating enjoyments, left, that there is no real self-denial, but rather self-enrichment. Mr. Beecher said, “Upon this broad earth, purified with flowers, scented with odors, brilliant in colors, vocal with echoing and re-echoing melody, I take my stand against all demoralizing pleasure.” God made all men to be happy! * * * He has set before us a thousand right and ennobling avenues of enjoyment–let us not sacrifice true and permanent happiness for questionable pleasures.
Great Fact II. The Emptiness of Riches
Ec 4; 5; 6.
Solomon has shown the emptiness of pleasure, honor, and power. Many will agree with him on this but at the same time will think that money is the supreme good in life. Solomon combats this error in these chapters. and shows that neither the gathering of great riches nor in the spending of them, is there real happiness, Ec 5:10. It is true that honest labor leads to prosperity, and this is desirable. More often it is the ungodly who increase in riches through dishonesty, speculation, or oppression. Both their wealth and a furious lust of wealth increase, and when they possess the most they seek for more. Their anxieties increase, they do not get refreshing sleep, they get in love with the world, become proud, are much tempted, they draw their hearts away from God and from duty, and make it very difficult for themselves to enter the kingdom of Heaven, Mt 19:23.
LESSON–It is lawful to gather wealth, if we can do so without violating the laws of God and man, and if we consecrate it to the service of God and man. Two questions will be asked rich men at the Judgement: How did you make your money, and how did you spend it? If riches increase, set not your heart upon them, Ps 62:10. On the other hand, remember that it is easier to be contented without riches than with them. It is so natural to make gold our god. to trust in it, and to depend upon it for happiness. The Bible depreciates the value of money because the best things, like salvation, blessedness and peace cannot be bought with it. It is not along golden roads that God’s children pass to bliss. Therefore, happy are those who have learned to be content with little, whose wants are few and moderate, who, having the necessaries of life, are thankful and hopeful. “I never complained of my lot,” said a Persian poet, “but once–when my feet were sore, and I had no money to buy shoes, but I met a man without a foot, and became contented with my lot when I saw him!”
Great Fact III. The Emptiness of Folly
Ec 7; 8; 9; 10; Ec 11.
The thought of these chapters is “Be not foolish,” Ecclesiastes 7-17. Seek a good name and cherish it above all earthly distinctions, cultivate meekness, be diligent, make the best of the present instead of dreaming about the past, or the future. Serve God with intelligent reason and prudence instead of rushing to extremes in anything. Perish in righteousness, rather than prosper in wickedness. Wisdom is the highest good. “Wisdom giveth life to those who have it!” Ecclesiastes 7:12.
LESSON--The root of folly is represented as in the heart, Proverbs 12:23. There is more folly in the heart of man than in the head. Foolishness stands first in the catalog of evils, Ro 3:3.
Examples of folly are, the foolish builders, Mt 7:26; the foolish virgins, Mt 5:48-23:1; the rich fool, Lu 12:16. On the other hand, the wisdom that is from above will preserve the soul’s life, by
imparting to it the gift of God, which is eternal life, it will preserve the mind’s life, by flooding it with truth; it will preserve the body’s life by giving it length of days and a glorious resurrection
at the last day!
Great Fact IV. The Emptiness of Impiety
This chapter is a call to young people to “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” Ec 12:1. Not to flatter themselves with vain expectations, but to guard against the spiritual disease of youth. Rutherford said, “A young man le often a dressed lodging for the devil to dwell in. Satan has a friend at court in the heart of youth, and their pride, luxury, lust, and forgetfulness of God are his hired agents. Therefore, what a sweet couple, what a glorious couple are youth and grace, Christ and a young man!” The period of youth has the responsibility of shaping all one’s afterlife, and if we do not remember our Creator in early days we shall not be able, nor shall we want to do so, in the later days of life. The philosophy of Ecclesiastes is summed up in these words:–“Reverence God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man!” Ec 12:13.
LESSON–There are many reasons why we should become devout Christians in early days.
1. In youth, the foundations of life are laid. Some workmen in building a tower laid one brick a little out of line. The work went on without it being noticed, but as each course of bricks was kept in line with those already laid the tower was not put up exactly straight, and the higher they built, the more insecure it became. One day there was a tremendous crash. The building had fallen,
burying the men in the ruins. Lives were sacrificed, time lost, materials were wasted, all because one brick was laid wrong at the start. Think of that ruin that comes of one bad habit, or one brick laid wrong, while you are building a character for life and eternity. Keep the foundation straight.
2. Because life is always uncertain, there are graves in the churchyard just your length. God will not spare you on account of your youth if you die without an interest in Christ.
3. Because if you seek Christ early and find Him, your life will be more eminently useful to God, and more serviceable to men. Augustine repented, and so have many others, that they began the
Christian life so late, and knew God no sooner.
4. Because your whole life will be happier if the morning of it is dedicated to the Lord. The first fruits sanctify the whole harvest. This will have a sweet influence upon all your days, whatever changes may come. Let every young person say today.
Now that my journey’s just begun,
My course so little trod,
I’ll stay before I further run,
And give myself to God!
Questions on the Lesson
1. What does the name of the book mean?
2. Who wrote it and when?
3. Why ought not to form a judgment upon isolated verses?
4. What is the purpose of the book?
5. What the great facts?
6. Name the keyword and key verse.
7. Have you read Ecclesiastes?
8. Did Solomon find satisfaction in pleasure?
9. Name the two classes of disappointed men.
10. Who is always a disappointed man?
11. Should Christians, too, sanction questionable pleasures?
12. Are there lots of elevating pleasures? Name some.
13. Is money the supreme good?
14. Name some of the disadvantages of being rich.
15. In what way is it lawful to gather wealth?
16. What things cannot be bought with money?
17. Show that contented people are the happiest.
18. Where is the root of foolishness?
19. Give some examples of folly?
20. What will wisdom do for us?
21. What is the philosophy of Ecclesiastes?
22. Why should we become Christians in early days?
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. — 1 Peter 5:7 KJV