Solomon writes the book of Ecclesiastes as a warning to those who want to live their lives as if God doesn’t exist.
He does that by stepping into the shoes of someone who believes that this life is all there is. So, many of his statements in this book are written from the point of view of someone who doesn’t trust in God, or believe in eternity.
Without that understanding, Ecclesiastes can be a very confusing book to read. Over and over again Solomon makes the statement that “Everything is meaningless!” And then he defends the statement with one illustration and argument after another.
Now that doesn’t sound very much like a believer’s point of view, does it?
Because it’s not. Solomon, in essence, is authoring a one-person drama in which he is both the antagonist and the protagonist. The antagonist has major doubts about God. But the protagonist — though he only appears on rare occasions in the drama — boldly states his fear of God, and his trust in God.
Solomon ends the book of Ecclesiastes by moving back one final time into the position of the protagonist. Here he tells us “the conclusion of the matter.”
And what is that conclusion?
The conclusion is, “Listen to the words of the Wise Shepherd. His words are constant and faithful. They are like nails that can’t be pulled out because they are so firmly and completely nailed down.”
“And yes, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of self-improvement books written every year. But you don’t need to add anything to what your Shepherd teaches you. He has all you need.”
“Just respect him, put his words into practice, and most of all, trust his gracious, hope-giving promises of forgiveness, new life, and eternal salvation.”
“Because, Jesus, your Good Shepherd, will bring you to and through the day of judgment by making a gift of his goodness and righteousness.”
“The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:11-14, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Friday, August 14, is Ecclesiastes 9:13 – 12:14, 1 Corinthians 9:1-18, and Psalm 96:1-13.
Lord, I am sorry for all the times when I’ve doubted you and your word. Please forgive me. Restore me to a place of complete trust in you, Jesus, so that your words, your promises and your commands are never far from my heart. I believe, Lord. Help me with my unbelief.
Header image based on "The Good Shepherd 136" by Waiting for the Word, CC By 2.0