Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 – If only I could be in control – David Hill

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Theme sentence: Life under the sun can seem pointless and often wearisome.

Aim sentence: Life from our perspective can seem pointless and wearisome. We must find someone who can make sense of the mystery.

What’s the point? (Verses 1 – 3)

These verses introduce the book and give the theme. “Hevel, Hevel, everything is utterly Hevel!” This sets the tone for the whole book and is repeated as a kind of bookend in 12:8. More than ‘meaningless’, hevel (הבל) is better translated ‘enigmatic’ – difficult to interpret or understand; mysterious.

Same old, Same old (Verses 4 – 11)

This introduction is then followed by a poem about the enigma of life. This poem has a Hebrew chiastic structure (It is like a sandwich) with the climax being in the middle (Vs 8) – in the ebb and flow of life “All things are wearisome!”

Wearisome life (Verses 12 – 18)

In these verses the teacher describes his method of exploring the enigma of life and says it is like chasing the wind. His problem though is that he is observing the world with his own human wisdom. The word “I” dominates this section, as it does much of the book.

Now what?

Life in this world is enigmatic, difficult to interpret and understand, it is mysterious. Don’t let this fact drive you crazy, let it grow your wonder. Lift your eyes from this life under the sun, and look to the one who made the sun and everything under it. Listen to His words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”(Mat 11:28)

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