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Lesson 1: The Rise and Fall of the House of Solomon *

Introduction: This week we begin the study of a new book of the Bible - Ecclesiastes! I am excited to be studying this book because it has so much practical and interesting advice for us. We realize that the Bible teaches us in different ways. Sometimes it lays before us the errors of others - not to give us an example, but rather to give us an illustration of what not to do. Other times, the Bible gives us direct advice on how to live. Our challenge in Ecclesiastes will be to separate what the Holy Spirit led Solomon, who had one of the greatest minds, to record as the depressed thoughts of a man who realizes that he has wasted part of his "God-potential," from those thoughts inspired to give us direct, positive advice for living. Let's jump right in!

  1. The Author - the Bad

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 1:1. Who is the author of Ecclesiastes? (The book says it was written by the "Teacher" who is the son of David and the King in Jerusalem. That points us to King Solomon.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 2:1-4. What final charge does King David give Solomon?

    3. How faithful was King Solomon in following the charge given to him by King David?

      1. Read 1 Kings 3:1-3. What problem do we see starting in the life of Solomon? (That he compromises on the worship of other gods.)

      2. Read 1 Kings 11:1-6. Where does this compromise lead? (His heart was turned to other gods and he was not fully devoted to the Lord.)

  2. The Author - the Good

    1. Read 1 Kings 3:5-14. What has God promised Solomon that is not conditioned on his future behavior? (Wisdom, to a greater degree than any other human. Honor and riches above every other king during his life. The length of his life depends on his faithfulness.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 4:29-34. What have we to learn from King Solomon? (A great deal!)

  3. What We Can Learn from the Author

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 1:2. Why does Solomon repeat the word "meaningless?" (He does it to give it emphasis. Like the reference to the "holy of holies" in the temple it is an indication of degree. Everything is really meaningless.)

      1. If everything is meaningless, would that include the book of Ecclesiastes?

        1. If so, what is the point of studying Ecclesiastes? Or, is this the author's way of telling us "Don't continue, turn away now?"

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:8-10. We have jumped to the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, and we see the reference to the opening statement. Is it God's truth that everything is meaningless? Or, is this just the description of a bad attitude that we should avoid? (Ecclesiastes tells us that the Teacher (Solomon) was right in saying these words.)

      1. Why does Solomon say we should believe what is in the book of Ecclesiastes? (He is wise-something we earlier saw was a gift specifically given to him by God. He "pondered" (i.e., carefully considered), he researched, and organized what he wrote. He chose just the right words to convey truth. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says that "just the right words" would be better translated "pleasing words," meaning that a teacher should make his teaching interesting without sacrificing the truth.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 12:11. How do we learn from the words of Ecclesiastes?

      1. What is a "goad?" (It is a prod - a sharpened stick - that you would shove into the hide of a cow to get him to move in the correct direction. Compare Hebrews 4:12.)

      2. How are wise words like embedded nails? (They hold the truth in place in our mind. You assemble an understanding of truth that is not constantly changing shape.)

      3. Who is the "Shepherd," the source of the wisdom in Ecclesiastes? (See Psalms 23:1. Solomon says God is the source of these words.)

  1. Overview of the Teacher's Truth

    1. We have this very strong endorsement of the importance and truth of the book of Ecclesiastes. Yet it begins and ends with "Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless." How are these words like a goad? (They spur your thinking. My general conclusion is that about everything is important. This tells me just the opposite.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 12:11-12. How does this help to define what Solomon means by "everything" is meaningless?

      1. Are the words of God meaningless? (When Solomon says "everything" he is not including the words of God.)

      2. Read Deuteronomy 4:2. What does this text and Ecclesiastes 12:12 suggest about the GoBible lessons and the sermons you hear at church? Should they be ignored as meaningless? (The goal of every good Bible study, the goal of every good sermon, is to point the student to the Word of God. Human views are meaningless and wearisome. God's words are truth.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 12:13. We have further definition of what is meant by "everything is meaningless." Tell me what Solomon tells us is meaningful? (To fear God and keep His commandments.)

      1. Is this a truth that survives the cross? Is this a message consistent with righteousness by faith? (Read John 14:15. Jesus tells us that if we love (fear) Him, we will obey Him. This is eternal wisdom and truth.)

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:14. Is the judgment something that is meaningless? (No! In our meaningless world, what we should keep in mind is the judgment. The idea of judgment should drive our actions.)

      1. Is this wisdom, or scare tactics? (I just read a fabulous little article on which I am going to base my next sermon. It argues that if we are Christians because we think it will make our life more comfortable and more prosperous, then when things become less comfortable and prosperous we will leave. But, if we become Christians because it is the only way for us to hold on to life and avoid eternal death, then we will hold on to the gospel no matter what.)

      2. What is meant by our "hidden things" being brought into judgment? (Our actions are generally seen, but our thoughts are hidden. God judges both our actions and our thoughts. See Matthew 5:27-28.)

    2. Friend, is life meaningless or worth living? Solomon tells us that a relationship with God makes life worth living. Will you determine today to give your heart to God and begin that relationship with Him?

  1. Next week: Nothing New Under the Sun.

* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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