The Bible says, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1).
Solomon is the author of the book of Ecclesiastes. He refers to himself as “the Preacher” and uses the word “preacher” seven times in this book.
Solomon’s use of the word “preacher” is as one who “assembles.” The word “Ecclesiastes” means “assembly” or “one who assembles.”
This can be taken to mean either, “one who collects wise sayings” (cf. 12:9-10), or “one who addresses an assembly,” that is, a preacher or speaker, the implication being that one assembles a group for the purpose of addressing it.
Ecclesiastes was written in Solomon’s latter years. He finished it approximately two years before his death in 965 B.C.
Solomon also wrote Song of Solomon and for the most part the book of Proverbs. In Song of Solomon, Solomon is portrayed as a young man, passionate but pure. In Proverbs, as a middle-aged man, who is practical and prudent. In Ecclesiastes, as a man close to the end of life, who is filled with the weariness of life and sees all things “under the sun” as vanity of vanities, but rightfully concludes that man’s duty is to fear God (12:13-14).
A drastic change in Solomon’s outlook on life occurs between the time that he writes Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes. In Song of Solomon he was full of life and love and was just beginning his life’s work. In Ecclesiastes he said that he “hated life” and all his life’s work (Ecclesiastes 2:17-18).
The change in Solomon’s outlook on life came as a result of his heart being turned away from God by his idolatrous (1 Kings 11) wives and his disobedience to God’s commands (Deuteronomy 17:14-17).
We see in Ecclesiastes that Solomon tried everything to find solid happiness after turning his heart away from God, the true source of real happiness. He uses the phrase “vanity of vanities” some 38 times, because all his pursuits for happiness apart from God were like the grasping of the wind.
Solomon tried human wisdom and philosophy (1:16-18), pleasure (2:1-3, 8:15), wine (2:3), work (2:4), creating his own secular Eden (2:4-7), sex (1 Kings 11:3), great wealth and music (2:7-8) to find fulfillment, purpose and meaning to life. All the same things men are trying today to find happiness.
Ecclesiastes is written “To convince men of the uselessness of any world view which does not rise above the horizon of man himself. It pronounces the verdict of ‘vanity of vanities’ upon any philosophy of life which regards the created world of human enjoyment as an end in life.”
It would be good to note that Solomon was wealthy enough to buy anything he deemed necessary to complete his experiment and make him happy.
In spite of Solomon’s experiment and its result’s men today are spending their time and money it seems to prove Solomon wrong. But no one has yet nor ever will come up with different results from these experiments than what Solomon did.
James H. Cagle lives in Ray City, Ga., and is a former Hamilton County resident.