There are three books in the Bible written by Solomon: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. The Jewish tradition says that he has written
1. Song of Songs in his youth;
2. Proverbs when he is middle-aged;
3. Ecclesiastes when he is old.
There is something to be said for that when we know the course of Solomon’s life:
1. In Song of Songs he describes his feelings for the woman with whom he wants to share his life and how he and she come together.
2. In Proverbs he is married. He speaks to his son and about his son’s mother.
3. The book of Ecclesiastes he will have written when he has become old and unfaithful to God, but by grace has also been restored in his relationship with God.
In Ecclesiastes he writes about his experiences in life without fellowship with God, that is, about the period in which he deviated from God. He lives a life ‘under the sun’ without a direct, open connection with heaven. This has led him to ask questions of sense: What is the meaning of my life? Is there anything that makes my life valuable? What is real wisdom? How should I give death a place in my existence? What place does God have in my life? In his book, the Preacher invites us to think about these questions.
The philosophers of the world have made it their profession to think about these kinds of questions. Only, in their folly they do so without involving God. Therefore, all their philosophical reflections are of no use to anyone. Learning about their imaginations is only tiring (Ecc 12:12). They would do well to learn from the Preacher.
The Preacher is a philosopher who has not given up faith in God. That makes him a real wise man. God is present in the background in everything he contemplates. It is impossible for every thinking person to ignore Him. The Preacher certainly believes in God and also takes Him into account. After all his investigations, he finally ends up with God.
His intention with this book is to warn us not to fall into the same mistakes as he did. He does this by passing on his experiences to us – and especially young people.
Ger de Koning
Middelburg, November 2016, translated October 2020