The old testament is a collection of thirty-nine unique books with an in-depth revelation into the earth’s foundation and rich history. Of all the books, Ecclesiastes stands out as the most depressing. This book spurs lots of debates among philosophers and bible scholars about the thoughts of the writer, King Solomon.
You cannot escape the overwhelming emptiness after reading even the first chapter. Why is that? The simple answer is that Ecclesiastes has bitter truths about life that you can’t escape as long as you’re human. It reveals that life is short and vain. In the end, what matters the most is your relationship with God.
A Brief Insight Into The Author’s Mind
Paradoxically, the sad book Ecclesiastes was written by someone who enjoyed life to its fullest. The author, Solomon, the third king of Israel, was known for not just his incomparable wealth and power but also his uncanny wisdom. Despite all these, he concludes that life is nothing but vanity.
Solomon seems depressed throughout the book. But in the real sense, he had seen and experienced quite a lot to arrive at this painful realization. Solomon chased, acquired, and achieved quite a lot in search of life’s meaning and purpose. But in the end, he realized they didn’t bring that sense of fulfillment or the satisfaction he desired.
His audience must have gone home, questioning their existence and everything around them. You would doubt your labors and achievements and see pleasures as meaningless.
There is a lot of wisdom to learn from the author’s pessimism. Ecclesiastes gives a clear disparity between a life with God and one without God. A life without God could end up a roller coaster of confusion, full of regrets and pain. With God, that doesn’t mean you cannot escape trials, but you are sure of emerging victorious and leading a fulfilling life.
In chapter nine, the author points out death as a destiny, which is common to all. Regardless of your status, achievements, and riches, we are all bound to die one day. He gives us a little bit of hope in verse 10 by telling us to work diligently while we can because
Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “…..there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.“
From verses eleven to twelve, we are again thrown into the wave of sadness when he observes and points out that success is simply a game of time and chance. Also, death is an evil that is sadly unpredictable.
King Solomon finally reveals the point of his depressing teachings in chapter 12 by telling us to depend wholly on God and fear him. We are to serve God with our strength and take comfort in the truth that only he can give life a broader and more fulfilling meaning.
Why Is Ecclesiastes So Depressing?
Ecclesiastes is capable of changing your whole view of life. Let’s point out specific areas of the book that makes it both nihilistic and distressing.
1. Its View of life
This book sees life as meaningless. A close look at Ecclesiastes 1: 8 reveals that one can’t get maximum satisfaction out of life. No matter how much your eyes see or your ears hear, they can never get overwhelmed with their functions. The author believes wisdom, pleasures, foolishness, and labor are all vain.
With this in mind, reflecting on your whole existence so far might not be palatable. Does that mean your time in school, the relationships you have built, and your career are all a waste? Of course not!
Everything we have ever experienced has a way of shaping our personality. But towards the end of our lives, we come to a painful realization that only the most minute things matter. And most importantly, we realize that time spent with God gives life its true meaning.
2. Its view of time
The interplay between pleasant and unpleasant times is another reason Ecclesiastes is labeled depressing. You will find full proof of this in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. It further explains that nothing “under the sun” meaning nothing in life, is permanent. Time is dynamic, and change is constant.
Every day cannot be gloomy, and at the same time, every day cannot be a bed filled with beautiful roses. Sometimes, you could draw comfort from these verses by believing that whatever unpleasant situation you find yourself in is just for a moment. With that in mind, you can build your faith and hope for a positive change.
3. The Harsh Reality of Loneliness
If you’ve been single for years and craving a life partner, you might find Ecclesiastes 4: 11 quite disturbing. If you have no one to call your friend or confidant, your heart might sink reading Ecclesiastes 4: 10. “……..woe unto him that is alone when he falls; for there is no other to help him up.”
4. Youthfulness is Not Forever
This alone is a reality of life that speaks volumes. You cannot be beautiful with supple skin forever. Your strength, feminity, or masculinity will be history one day. A time will come when walking a little mile will feel like you claimed a hill. You cannot escape all these if you wish to live long.
This was why Solomon admonishes us in chapter 12 to use our strength and time to build a relationship with God early enough. We shouldn’t waste time or postpone opportunities to do exploits for God because one day, we will wish to do so, but there will be no strength.
Lessons from Ecclesiastes
There are so many life lessons to learn and apply despite the depressing nature of Ecclesiastes. Here are a few.
1. Be Thankful Always
It is necessary to see every day of your life as a gift and be grateful to God for everything while it lasts. Avoid carrying baggage from the past and let go. Hey, nothing lasts forever.
2. Bring the best out of life
No matter how little, learn to look at the bright side of everything. Be positive and hopeful at all times. With that, you are sure to build your faith and hope for each day. Go on vacations, tour new places, apply for that job, and work diligently while you have the strength and willpower to do so. Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams and be happy.
3. Seek Wisdom at All Times
Ecclesiastes 7: 19 expresses how powerful wisdom can be. Something stronger than ten mighty men is worth having. Wisdom will help you make sound judgments and profitably apply your knowledge.
Steps to Interpreting Ecclesiastes
If you wish to look beyond the depressing surface of Ecclesiastes and understand the deep wisdom embedded in it, try to do the following:
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer when reading your Bible. Pray anytime you come across a scripture that is too difficult to comprehend. Ask the holy spirit to bring them to your understanding.
• Try To apply it to your life
Think of anything around you and see if it fits the picture that scripture is trying to paint. Ask personal questions, and write down the responses that come to life. Ecclesiastes revolves around our life as humans, and every verse is applicable. Think of the ones that apply to you and pray about them.
The book of Ecclesiastes calls for deep reflection on life. But at the same time, it reveals how much hope and strength we can draw from God. The book guides us on how to live our lives fearing God, doing good, abstaining from evil, and seeking wisdom. Ultimately, no matter how meaningless life might be, with Christ, you can have a great sense of fulfillment.