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Sabbath School Lessons on Ecclesiastes
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- The Author - the Bad
- 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
- Read 1 Kings 2:1-4. What final charge does King David give
- How faithful was King Solomon in following the charge
given to him by King David?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- The Author - the Good
- 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.)
- Read 1 Kings 4:29-34. What have we to learn from King
Solomon? (A great deal!)
- What We Can Learn from the Author
- 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.)
- If everything is meaningless, would that include the
book of Ecclesiastes?
- 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?"
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:11. How do we learn from the words of
- 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.)
- 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
- Who is the "Shepherd," the source of the wisdom in
Ecclesiastes? (See Psalms 23:1. Solomon says God is
the source of these words.)
- Overview of the Teacher's Truth
- 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.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:11-12. How does this help to define
what Solomon means by "everything" is meaningless?
- Are the words of God meaningless? (When Solomon says
"everything" he is not including the words of God.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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
- 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.)
- 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 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.)
- 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?
- 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.