The Book of Ecclesiastes does not directly identify its author. There are quite  a few verses that imply Solomon wrote this book. There are some clues in the  context that may suggest a different person wrote the book after Solomon’s  death, possibly several hundred years later. Still, the conventional belief is  that the author is indeed Solomon.

Date of Writing: Solomon’s reign as king of Israel lasted from around 970 B.C. to around 930  B.C. The Book of Ecclesiastes was likely written towards the end of his reign,  approximately 935 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: Ecclesiastes  is a book of perspective. The narrative of “the Preacher” (KJV), or “the  Teacher” (NIV) reveals the depression that inevitably results from seeking  happiness in worldly things. This book gives Christians a chance to see the  world through the eyes of a person who, though very wise, is trying to find  meaning in temporary, human things. Most every form of worldly pleasure is  explored by the Preacher, and none of it gives him a sense of meaning.

In the end, the Preacher comes to accept that faith in God is the only way to  find personal meaning. He decides to accept the fact that life is brief and  ultimately worthless without God. The Preacher advises the reader to focus on an  eternal God instead of temporary pleasure.

Key Verses: Ecclesiastes 1:2, “’Vanity of vanities,’ says the  Preacher, ‘vanity of vanities, all is vanity’” (NKJV).

Ecclesiastes 1:18,  “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more  grief.”

Ecclesiastes 2:11, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands  had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing  after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 12:1,  “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble  come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in  them.'”

Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Now all has been heard; here is the  conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the  whole duty of man.”

Brief Summary: Two phrases are  repeated often in Ecclesiastes. The word translated as “vanity” in the KJV, and  “meaningless” in the NIV appears often, and is used to emphasize the temporary  nature of worldly things. In the end, even the most impressive human  achievements will be left behind. The phrase “under the sun” occurs 28 times,  and refers to the mortal world. When the Preacher refers to “all things under  the sun,” he is talking about earthly, temporary, human things.

The  first seven chapters of the book of Ecclesiastes describe all of the worldly  things “under the sun” that the Preacher tries to find fulfillment in. He tries  scientific discovery (1:10-11), wisdom and philosophy (1:13-18), mirth (2:1),  alcohol (2:3), architecture (2:4), property (2:7-8), and luxury (2:8). The  Preacher turned his mind towards different philosophies to find meaning, such as  materialism (2:19-20), and even moral codes (including chapters 8-9). He found  that everything was meaningless, a temporary diversion that, without God, had no  purpose or longevity.

Chapters 8-12 of Ecclesiastes describe the  Preacher’s suggestions and comments on how a life should be lived. He comes to  the conclusion that without God, there is no truth or meaning to life. He has  seen many evils and realized that even the best of man’s achievements are worth  nothing in the long run. So he advises the reader to acknowledge God from youth  (12:1) and to follow His will (12:13-14).

Foreshadowings:  For all of the vanities described in the Book of Ecclesiastes, the  answer is Christ. According to Ecclesiastes 3:17, God judges the righteous and the  wicked, and the righteous are only those who are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).  God has placed the desire for eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and  has provided the Way to eternal life through Christ (John 3:16). We are reminded that striving after the  world’s wealth is not only vanity because it does not satisfy (Ecclesiastes 5:10),  but even if we could attain it, without Christ we would lose our souls and what  profit is there in that (Mark 8:36)?  Ultimately, every disappointment and vanity described in Ecclesiastes has its  remedy in Christ, the wisdom of God and the only true meaning to be found in  life.

Practical Application: Ecclesiastes offers the  Christian an opportunity to understand the emptiness and despair that those who  do not know God grapple with. Those who do not have a saving faith in Christ are  faced with a life that will ultimately end and become irrelevant. If there is no  salvation, and no God, then not only is there no point to life, but no purpose  or direction to it, either. The world “under the sun,” apart from God, is  frustrating, cruel, unfair, brief, and “utterly meaningless.” But with Christ,  life is but a shadow of the glories to come in a heaven that is only accessible  through Him.