Now the wisest man in the world decides to share what he has learned to be the meaning of life. Some argue that since his name is never mentioned in the book Solomon is not the author. But there are too many clues in the book to accept that suggestion. The first verse introduces the writer: “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Wiersbe explains the evidence for Solomon’s authorship. He writes, “Nowhere in this book did the author give his name, but the descriptions he gave of himself and his experiences would indicate that the writer was King Solomon. He called himself “son of David” and “king in Jerusalem” (1:1, 12), and he claimed to have great wealth and wisdom (2:1–11, and 1:13; see 1 Kings 4:20–34 and 10:1ff). In response to Solomon’s humble prayer, God promised him both wisdom and wealth (1 Kings 3:3–15); and He kept His promise.”[1]

Solomon calls himself “the preacher” according to the English Standard Version. The transliteration of the Hebrew word is used by other translations: “Qoheleth.” Today’s English Version translates it as “The Philosopher.” The writers of the Handbook for translators don’t like that term because it “may not be able to convey the fact that in Israel the wise man was a deeply religious person. Hence ‘sage’ or ‘wise man’ may be a better choice because it is more neutral.”[2]

Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon in his youth. Lust for a lady seems to have been its theme if you take it literally. Proverbs was written in his adult and midlife years when he struggled with finding meaning and purpose by satisfying other lusts in life. In Ecclesiastes, he looks back on his life and shares the wisdom that he has accumulated. Primarily it’s that none of the pleasures, powers, positions, or possessions can mean ultimate meaning and purpose to our lives. Many argue that the book is too pessimistic and should not be in the Bible. But reading it helps us face the true issues of life. Ryken says, “We should study Ecclesiastes to learn what will happen to us if we choose what the world tries to offer instead of what God has to give. The writer of this book had more money, enjoyed more pleasure, and possessed more human wisdom than anyone else in the world, yet everything still ended in frustration. The same will happen to us if we live for ourselves rather than for God.”[3]

[1] Wiersbe, Warren W. 1996. Be Satisfied. “Be” Commentary Series. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Ogden, Graham S., and Lynell Zogbo. 1998. A Handbook on Ecclesiastes. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.

[3] Ryken, Philip Graham. 2010. Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.