Ecclesiastes chapters 1-6 (summary)


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Summary – this summary of Ecclesiastes is, by nature, limited; many components of the chapters are left out because my intent was to summarize an overall picture. No doubt, others will disagree with my summary, and David Dorsey manifestly shows the futility at trying to organize, symmetrically, the book.

Nevertheless, I offer these thoughts with this effort.

I have taken time to study and understand via many books, some of which are from Denny Petrillo, Michael Eaton, Roland Murphey, Ian Provan. I have pursued this study, among other reasons, because of the Euthrypo Dilemma, a dilemma that is generated solely from a perspective of under the sun. Man in his wisdom thinks he understands, but Solomon in his wisdom, a greater wisdom than any man who ever walked on the earth (short of Jesus) had a better understanding.


  1. Under the sun, wisdom’s value is only a little better than folly’s value; trying to grasp meaning in the world is like trying to grab a hold of wind; it is an empty venture (chapter 1).
  2. Under the sun, the value of wisdom over folly is only minimal, for both end at the same destination, the grave (death); thus, the good in life is fleeting, unless one begins to understand life as a gift from God (chapter 2).
  3. Under the sun, there is a proper time for this and for that, and man recognizes a big-picture to life (Dorsey), but under the sun God tests man for him to see that he can’t figure out the big-picture and he is no greater than the beasts of the field; at the proper time God’s judgment comes (chapter 3).
  4. Oppression, laziness, loneliness, and failure to heed wisdom, all of this from the perspective of under the sun is grasping for the wind (chapter 4).
  5. Under the sun, walk reverently and with fear before God; doing so means life is understood as God’s gift, and the vanities of life will all come to an end (chapter 5).
  6. Under the sun, man can’t know what the good life is; he sees all about him the evil in the world, taking notice that as God gave, God took away (chapter 6).

What is the good life? Is it a life of contemplation, an accumulated wisdom that belongs to man then rests on a single individual? Solomon considered such; his conclusion (through chapter 6) is found in 2:24-26, 3:12, 5:1, 12, 19

The Model Prayer


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Do you pray, and if so how? Consider what Jesus taught. Our Father which art in heaven – The word “father” conveys relationship, like one has a relationship with one’s dad. This includes the notion of fellowship. When you think of your earthly father, it is hopefully in good sort of way. A father gives structure, instruction, love, advice/counsel. The Almighty does the same. There is a difference, though. A relationship with one’s dad is a relationship here on earth, physical proximity is close (perhaps). The Father we address in this context “resides” in heaven. He still gives structure, instruction, love, advice/counsel, but what He gives is more than any earthly person can give. Hallowed be thy name. Because He is in heaven, and because His admonitions are greater than anything earthly, we understand Him to be holy in all respects. His holiness is not to be trifled with, that is, there is no disrespect given because we act and live as if He is a cuddly “big daddy”! Frankly, this is blasphemous! The Father in heaven is holy and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God—something that is not and can’t be said about a “big cuddly daddy”! His name is holy, and our thinking is to correspond to His thinking…that is, if we approach Him properly (cf. Heb. 10:31). Far too many, Christians included, fail in this area. Thy kingdom come. Does this refer to the church, or something like God’s kingdom at time’s end? The word kingdom mean reign; in one respect God has always been in control of all that exists; He reigns over all His creation. That is not what is in view here. In this context, the kingdom is not something physical, but the spiritual reign of the Lord in the lives of each person who chooses to obey the Lord’s will. All those who obey are then added to the Lord’s kingdom (Acts 2:47; John 3:5), because the kingdom of God resides in the heart of one who obeys. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. When the one who has separated himself from this evil world to the Lord, this one is properly called a saint. With each and every saint, it is always the case the Lord’s will is to be done in life while on this earth. Are you doing so? If not, then start with separating yourself from a worldly way of thinking and adopt the thinking way of the Lord (Galatians 2:20) – this is the life of holiness. Give us this day our daily bread. Your reliance on the Lord is how much? Surely, we understand gratitude; we understand the need to be grateful to the Lord for that which He provides, food for day-to-day living. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. As we have been forgiven, let us have the same willingness to forgive others. Since pride goes before the fall, those who have pride within that prevents a forgiving spirit to be extended, the one who loves the Lord will not receive that which he/she desires, which is forgiveness (Matthew 18-21-35). And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: how can one avoid temptation? There are two answers to this, both necessarily related and connected. First, with devotion appeal to the Lord for strength and protection. Second, with determination, learn from the Lord His way of holiness, educating your mind to see traps long before they arrive. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. The way you choose to live life is your own, but be reminded the life you choose to live, at the end of that life, there stands the Lord. Solomon wrote long ago, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14, KJV). RT




From the vantage point of humanity, to fail to drive out the people of Canaan when Israel went from Egypt to the land the Lord God promised was merciful. From the vantage point of the Lord it was both resistance to His will and destructive to them morally and spiritually. The Lord knew (and knows) what He is talking about! We (or people), on the other hand, only do occasionally. There were some who saw it the way the Lord, but not enough of them did. Through the years the proverb “wisdom is justified by her children” shows itself to be true—as it always does. RT

The Value of Relationships


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How do you view work?

“I view work as a necessary function of life that generates for me an income.”

“I view work as a pleasant experience in life that gets me out of the house and away from tension at home.”

“I view work not only as necessary, but something I enjoy because of how I feel at the end of the day – I contributed.”

Perhaps there are many other answers to the question “How do you view work?” Sometimes work is an escape. One can go to work and hide from matters at home or hide from struggles in the world that may be both at home and in other areas of life. There are many occasions when disappointment sets in and going to work allows the disappointment to be shelved to the corner of the mind where one is not quickly going to think about it. Sometimes work is a chore because the people one works with is less than they should be. It seems as if Pete always wants to control things, the manager is failing in her responsibilities, and cares only for the dollar, not the service rendered! Being productive is beneficial to not only the one working, but also in relation to the service rendered; thus, it is very important. Some guidance from Ecclesiastes can be of help to see this.

Think about work from the perspective of Ecclesiastes 4:8. Solomon reflected on the miseries of life from the perspective of “under the sun.” He concluded long before the famous words of chapter 12, life is meaningless without God. In the course his discussion on these things, he reflected on the man who works, but works all alone. He is 1) alone, without a partner, 2) has no family, 3) works incessantly, 4) is not satisfied with what he accomplished, 5) does not reflect on the purpose for what he does.

I watched a show called “Strange Inheritance” about a man who had a hobby that consumed him; he married in 1951 (I think), and by the time 1971 came around, he was divorced. There are far more complicating reasons for divorce than what the show could portray, but it left this impression – he was a man consumed by his hobby. That which he did conveyed to his wife he was more interested in his hobby than in her. Sometimes people tend to matters outside the family that are related to work, hobbies and/or recreation – all the while making major contributions to the family’s destruction.

The preacher in Ecclesiastes does not speak well of a person who is a workaholic, and the preacher (Solomon) speaks from much wisdom. Two things for which one needs reminding on matters like this. First, a workaholic is depriving his family of the love and attention promised when the wedding vows were made. This is a major contribution to the demise of the family, starting with the husband and wife. When such things occur, the contributor is thinking and standing opposed to the Lord, and it does not matter they would deny it—their life expresses what words refuse to convey. It is obvious to anyone this person thinks only about self and self’s interests. When Jesus taught His disciples about the sanctity of marriage, He said this: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” The workaholic is guilty of exactly this!

Second, the solution is not in work, but in relationship. The relationship must first start with the Lord, and this is not simply a matter of “being baptized”! It’s a matter of daily walking with the Lord. Second, one’s relationship with the spouse must be nurtured. Third, building relationships with people actually makes one stronger in character. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and see what you think. Denney Petrillo said four things result in these relationships; there is more productivity in two working together than one, there is mutual care as the two works toward a single end, the warmth in the two can be practical (husband/wife) and emotional (as in emotional support), the safety of two or more is obvious in comparison with only one.

The pictures below speak volumes about relationships—both in the Lord’s family and one’s personal family. What are you doing to enhance both? RT



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I have always liked the song with the title “Behind Blue Eyes” by the rock group The Who. It is a song the singer, writer and just about anyone else can relate to in a special way. Not everything in the song relates, but the general tenor of the song connects with people very well, perhaps like the song by Keith Whitely, “I am no stranger to the Rain.”

Both musical tunes in different genres connect with the struggles people have regularly. No matter how vibrant a person a person appears on stage, on television, or in public in a different venue, the same struggles are present.

A young lady lost the “love of her life” because she made a choice and it did not include him. He moved on, but she struggled more than she realized when she saw him again. A young professional man is about to get married because “it’s the logical step” to a long relationship, and all the while the young lady does not feel loved, but only lonely. A powerful woman in the business world can’t seem to connect with a male because she is always afraid the male (now boyfriend) is interested in her because of her position.

Each one presents themselves in a façade sort of way, allowing others to think that behind those blue (any color) eyes, all is well, when things are not well at all.

Blue eyes crying in the rain!

When Solomon was standing in front of the people praying to the Lord, dedicating the newly built Temple in Jerusalem, he used a word any thoughtful person can relate to. “What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house” (1 Kings 8:38, KJV).

Did you notice it? The word is “plague.” When every person knows the plague of his own heart, when that person prays, in this case toward the Temple, Solomon appeals to the Lord to hear and heal. Other translations use words and terms like affliction, wound, heartfelt sorrow, pain, their troubles, but most (that I have) uses the word plague.

That word conveys to me in a most accurate way what the Lord wants me to understand. That which I have in my heart, that with which I continually contend with is a plague, a disease that if not addressed will kill me, and in this case, spiritually. When Solomon prayed, he prayed the Lord would hear and heal, but the one who prays must first heed.

Behind blue eyes that are crying in the rain – there is a solution, and the solution is not within self. The solution is the Lord. It always has been, and it will never be anything but Him. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). RT




Have you someone say something like this: “I am interested in learning more about God, but I don’t have time to study the Bible with you.” How about this: “I am interested in fixing problems in my life, but I don’t have the time to study the Bible with you.” It’s a common approach, an approach that wants something of great value, but there is little interest in taking necessary time to attain that which is of great value. In this “instant-gratification-society” in which we live, should we not gain that which is important similar to how fast we gain information on the internet? These same people who approach what they clearly know is very important, then wonder, “Why does the Lord let these things happen to me!”

Because this approach is applied by both the “Christian” and non-Christian, the words of Paul still have application. “For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him” (Acts 13:27, ESV). The Lord’s prophet, Hosea, once boldly spoke that the Lord’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Many today who identify themselves as belonging to the Lord will experience the same, and for the same reason. RT

What is Inappropriate Contact?


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I feel compelled to write a word on this topic because of a Facebook post I saw the other day. A brother lamented a situation in the congregation where he is serving about an accusation by a lady toward another person (male) about inappropriate contact (I noticed he did not identify her as a sister in the Lord). The accusation was loud, and visitors saw this. You can imagine the response.

What is inappropriate contact? Many folks are not sure what it is in today’s “accusatory environment.” Accusations fly, and whether accurate or not, some lives are destroyed or adversely affected.

I can safely and biblically say that any contact that is contrary to biblical principles would be inappropriate contact, and who would disagree? No one that I l know of; still, what constitutes inappropriate contact? At the very least, it means there is no touching a person in any way that can be misconstrued or interpreted as a sexual advance. Unfortunately, some want attention, or some want to misinterpret innocent touching with sexual advancement.

Is hugging a child, a person of the opposite sex, or person of the same gender inappropriate? No. In today’s environment, however, it can be easily seen as improper, and in many cases it’s because what is appropriate is not known/understood. This gets us to trying to understand a proper measuring standard by which to judge.

There are so many that are truly guilty of inappropriate actions, misplaced words, and activities that are contrary to the Lord’s way, the proper standard by which to judge. Those who are guilty make it bad for everyone else. The failings of man, in this context, the male, has been around since the time of the Garden, but as the male is guilty, the female is not innocent. The actions of some have made genuine warmth scarce. So many who are truly guilty have “spoiled” the whole bunch.

No Christian should be involved with inappropriate touching, speaking, actions, even thinking! If one is, then the one who is guilty needs to be addressed at the lowest level (Matthew 18:15-17), so understanding and correction can be attained. When one makes it public, when no attention or effort is given to the matter in private, the one going public wants attention. No longer is it a matter of right-conduct or correction, but it then becomes “I want attention and I want you to look and hear me.”

Precisely identifying inappropriate contact in all regards is impossible; there is some contact that is easily and properly interpreted as improper, but there is some contact that is not easily seen to be or interpreted as improper. Here is the “rule of thumb” to think and live by: “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands…And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:1, 4-7, NKJV). RT

A Generated Outlook


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Because the ACLU (and similar groups) reject God, such sentiments like Daniel Webster’s fall to the ground like a mother’s tears. He once wrote, “There is nothing we look for with more certainty tha[n] this principle, that Christianity is a part of the law of the land. Everything declares it” (The Christian Life and Character of Civil Institutions of the United States, p. 245). There are many groups who reject God, such as the one identified (their denials not withstanding).

Rejecting God, such groups insist on secularism that generates little accountability that has any ultimate consequence. Thus, a deranged person thinks he (she) has nothing to lose when there is engagement in evil. Under the Lord’s way of thinking, there is only one penalty if conviction results. Under the way of thinking in this country, ambulance chasers instill doubt. With little accountability and no purpose or meaning in life, one takes a gun and levels all who stand at the other end of its barrel – for secularism’s philosophy (progressives/liberals) generate such an outlook. RT

Your Name is Aaron


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Your name is Aaron. You have been chosen by the Lord to lead the people of Israel in worship to the Lord. You know your responsibility will be great, but you don’t really know how great it will be. You can’t help but to be impressed with your younger brother Moses, for it was the Lord who chose Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, but you were fortunate to be by him to help and speak for him. Already to this point, you know the Lord.

You were there when the two of you presented yourselves before the king; you were there when you both were reprimanded by the people because the burdened became much heavier for them; you were there when Egypt’s king called Moses before him more than once seeking relief; you were there when Pharaoh sent you and the nation out of NE Africa with haste. You saw all of this, but more than having seen it, you experienced it. Now, the Lord choose you to lead His people. Your name is Aaron.

Through Moses, the Almighty tasked you to head up his priestly family. Moses was of the same ancestry as you, but it was you He chose. Now it begins to settle on you just how great a position of responsibility you have.

Moses calls you and your two sons, Nadab and Abihu, to be set apart for the Lord’s special work. As you look at your two sons, you are a proud father, but the significance of your role is yet before you. Animals are killed on the behalf of you three, and there is much symbolism administered as you three are set apart for a most important work. You are separated from the people at large and from your family for many days. Now it really begins to settle in on you just how important this work is. It begins to settle in, but it has not quite arrived at the point where it will settle in.

Not only are you given special clothing and set aside for a special work with much symbolism, but now you are presenting to the Lord only those things He wants done. By this time, you have come to honor, respect, revere and fear the Lord’s name and power. You are a changed man. Your two sons, you hope, have been changed as you have been. They experienced the same as you; perhaps their experience was not quite the same, but nearly so. Surely, as with your response, theirs is similar.

Now, you come to a part of the Divine service wherein an offering of incense to the Lord is to occur. You, with much devotion and respect, fulfill your responsibilities to this point; now it’s time for your sons to do the same. Before you know it, from heaven came fire and consumed them! Their lives are gone! Your mind is racing, wondering what just happened, and why it happened. Then you hear from Moses and begin to understand what happened. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified (Leviticus 10:3).

What in the world were Nadab and Abihu thinking that they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord? Some have suggested it was because of alcohol, for the Lord gives guidance concerning that in Leviticus 10. This may be exactly the problem, but I am inclined to think it was simply willful disobedience on their part to the Lord’s expressed way; they were thoughtless and careless. “Surely, the Lord will not be upset with a slight change in the offering of this incense! What difference does it make, anyway?”

Your name is Aaron. While you never met Jeremiah, you have come to learn by experience that which he wrote nearly a thousand years later, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9, KJV). You have learned that the Lord knows your heart and the heart of every one of His created beings. LESSON: Never trifle with the Lord and His way, for one can be sure sin will find them out (Numbers 32:23). RT




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Last week we gave attention to what the Holy Spirit said was going to be a “departing from the faith.” We noticed this occurs because a person has ears to hear, but chooses not to hear that which the Lord said; instead, there is a desire to hear what others think and see what others have done, then follow that pattern. This is not a recent phenomenon, of course, for it goes back to the days of the prophet Samuel. It was during the days of Samuel’s judgeship the people wanted a king; Samuel protested their desire, but the Lord said to grant them the request, and give warning concerning the nature of their king. Samuel did so; the people responded, “Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19-20, KJV).

In the pages of the New Testament, the structure of the local church is placed in the hands of the Lord Jesus. It was He who said that He would build His church and the gates of Hades (Hell) will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:13-19). The gates of Hades refer to death. Paul wrote to Timothy, “and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Timothy 1:10, ESV). Satan’s power over man was his death, both physical and spiritual.

Satan, however, can have no success at getting evil “in” the church (if you will) unless he is let in, and the Lord won’t do it! If the local church holds true to what the Lord taught, that is, the collective body of the saints (not a building), Satan is defeated every time. In relation to church history, it was not long before the “doors” of the New Testament church opened up and the “gates of Hades” made their way in!

In the New Testament, the church of our Lord appointed men to serve as elders (a term equivalent in function/work to bishops, presbyters, overseers or pastors), as leaders of the local congregation. Up until sometime after the end of the first century, going into the second century, this was the norm. Later, it changed. “It is evident, however, that till some time after the year 100, Rome, Greece, and Macedonia had at the head of each congregation a group of collegiate bishops, or presbyter-bishops, with a number of deacons as their helpers” (A History of the Christian Church, Williston Walker (1918), p. 46).

Is this an insignificant occurrence in church history? Not a chance! It was one of the first structural changes of the church after the simple plan of the New Testament was put in place by the Lord; He never gave authorization to a single man to alter what He set forth in the New Testament.

In another church history volume, the writer mentions that after A.D. 135, there was a single bishop in Jerusalem and one in Ephesus, because it was not until after the time of the apostles the monarchal (single) bishop came into existence (Christianity Through the Centuries, Earle Cairns (1954), cf. pages 126, 88).

When the structure on New Testament leadership is changed, as it was so long ago, it is but a short time later that others changes creep in also. History attests to this having occurred. Leadership in the New Testament church is a leadership that respects and insists on the Lord’s way, and only His way. A failure of leadership is to do things some other way. RT