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Bible

The Book of Ecclesiastes

I am confounded by the book of Ecclesiastes.  As mentioned in the post “…and Then You Die,” Ecclesiastes is a depressing read.  It is pessimistic and its main point to put God first is easy to miss.

Ecclesiastes abounds with negativity and hyperbole, yet it also contains some wise thoughts and astute observations.  Separating the two takes effort and focus.  Yet doing so means to discount some parts of this book as foolishness and to embrace other parts as sound.  This is unwise, because to do so we must apply our own biases and perceptions of what to accept (such as, obey God) and what to reject (such as, death is better than life).  Reading Solomon’s words in this manner merely reinforces what we already know and teaches us nothing new.

What I do know is that given Solomon’s proclivity towards hyperbole in Ecclesiastes, using his words by themselves as a basis for understanding God is not warranted.  It is imperative to make sure any conclusions made are also supported elsewhere in biblical texts.

So if Ecclesiastes is not much use for direct instruction, then what good is it?

If I read Ecclesiastes strictly as a story, then I do see one lesson emerge: smart people can be pretty whacked out and morose in their thinking.  Is that the point?

By Peter DeHaan

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan shares his passion for life and faith through words. Peter DeHaan’s website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages.

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly.