How can we help?
< All Topics

Ecclesiastes: Vanity of Vanities

The Preacher’s Subject,
The Preacher’s Sermon,
The Preacher’s Summary,
He states his text, 1:1-2Some of the things he had sought, 1:12-2:26He repeats his complaint about life, 11
He states his topic, 1:3-11Some of the things he had seen, 3:1-6:12He relates his conclusions about life, 12
Some of the things he had studied, 7-10
Outline based on John Phillips, Exploring the Scriptures, Loizeaux, 1965, 1970

Major characters

  • The Preacher (Solomon, 1:12-13)

Major words/phrases

  • Vanity of vanities, all is vanity
  • Grasping for the wind
  • Nothing new under the sun
  • Fear God
  • A gift from God

Major themes

  • Futility of life without God
  • Fear God
  • Enjoy life

Ecclesiastes is a difficult book to read, as it appears to present a very pessimistic outlook on life, and one could easily become discouraged reading it.

The author is stressing the nature of “life under the sun,” life apart from God. If God is taken out of the equation, life is most distressing and futile. This futility is seen in the oft repeated phrases “vanity of vanities” (the word vanity occurs 35 times in the Old Testament, 33 of those occurrences being in Ecclesiastes); and “grasping for the wind” (the phrase occurs 9 times in this book).

But the Preacher does not leave this as his final word. Interspersed throughout are references to life and labour as a gift from God (2:24-25; 3:12-13); and he says that life is to be enjoyed (cp. 1 Tim. 6:17). Five times the Preacher encourages us to “fear God” (8:12-13; 12:13).

Table of Contents