Thought from Today's Old Testament Passage:
To correctly understand any book of the Bible, it is important to know the purpose for which it was written. We need to back off and get a perspective of the book. We need to put down the telescope on the Word of God before we pick up the microscope. The necessity for this is more evident here [in Ecclesiastes] than in many of the other books of the Bible.
This is human philosophy apart from God, which must always reach the conclusions that this book reaches. We need to understand this about Ecclesiastes because there are many statements which contradict certain other statements of Scripture.
Actually, it almost frightens us to know that this book has been the favorite of atheists, and they have quoted from it profusely. Voltaire is an example. Today we find the cynic and the critic are apt to quote from this book. And it is quite interesting to note the number of cults that use passages from this book out of context and give them an entirely wrong meaning.
Man has tried to be happy without God; it is being tried every day by millions of people. This book shows the absurdity of the attempt. Solomon was the wisest of men, and he had a wisdom that was God-given. He tried every field of endeavor and pleasure that was known to man, and his conclusion was that all is vanity. The word vanity means "empty, purposeless." Satisfaction in life can never be attained in this manner.
God showed Job, a righteous man, that he was a sinner in God's sight. In Ecclesiastes God showed Solomon, the wisest man, that he was a fool in God's sight.
J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, © 1981 by J. Vernon McGee