So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him.
Notes to the Leader: We study Solomon because he is cast as God’s choice for the wisest man to ever live. His wisdom, however, was not sufficient to bring the answers Solomon searched for about life. If there is ever proof that we should not use Scripture literally, it is in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Here we find Solomon’s many mistakes.
For Solomon, the future seemed uncertain and filled with dreadful things. The only thing that seemed certain to him was man’s ultimate destiny, death. And while Solomon saw wisdom better than folly, neither one could guarantee a person a happy life, much less a meaningful one.
What Solomon didn’t know was God’s great love for each of us. This lesson provides us the assurance that our future is “certain” and we should not live in fear of “dreadful things.” God can guarantee true happiness and give life meaning.
Read Ecclesiastes 8:17 to your group.
From the tone of this verse, what can you determine about Solomon’s thoughts in Ecclesiastes?
- This is a summary: No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. In chapters 9 and 10, Solomon changes to take a look back upon his work, and concludes that he has learned a few things after all.
Section One: The Invincible Evil
Read Ecclesiastes 9:1 to your group.
What was Solomon’s view of God?
- He had a high view. Solomon would see God as invincible and all powerful.
Have someone in your group read Romans 1:20.
Why is this such bad news for mankind?
- The Apostle Paul states that all excuses are worthless. God has given all mankind sufficient evidence of His existence.
What characteristics of God can we conclude from Paul’s statement?
- God is sovereign. His will and His purposes rule the created universe.
How do these characteristics of God (as seen by Solomon and Paul) compare with those characteristics found in the beliefs of our society today?
- Man has not relegated himself to the position of accepting the God who is but continues to define the God that serves man.
Why is Solomon so confused over the point that he does not even know whether God loves him or hates him?
- Again, Solomon limits his view from one of observation or experience. Instead of seeing moral order ruling the universe, he sees chaos. The good suffer and the wicked are rewarded. Solomon cannot find any guidelines for deciphering what to expect from God.
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 9:2-3. Solomon sees a great evil, the fact that none of us know God’s attitude toward us. Solomon is troubled by the fact that God has not enforced moral order on the earth.
What type of attitude (Solomon’s) toward leading a good or evil life would this type of thinking create in people?
- When we measure the world by what we see, the inequitable treatment of the good and bad can create an attitude that being good doesn’t matter. Life’s short so enjoy it any way you can. Live for the gusto.
- Just do it.
- It doesn’t get any better than this.
Where in our society, do these attitudes come from today?
- Complacent parents
- No sense of urgency on the part of the Christian community
- Professional sports
What avenues are available to both adults and children to develop an attitude based upon Hope?
- The Word of God, found in the Church, taken home to the Family, and placed permanently into our hearts.
If you were to choose a church, what should the most important criteria be?
- Is the Word of God preached, taught, lived and passed on.
What is the criteria that is commonly used to choose a church?
- Friendly people
- Great music
- Convenient location
- Good parking (no kidding – listed in the top ten)
- A powerful speaker as a pastor
- Wonderful facilities
If you accept the Word of God as the key criteria, then how do we find out whether a church is measuring up to the standards set forth in Scripture?
- It is our personal responsibility to know the Word of God sufficiently that we can make that most important choice. If we do not know the Word of God, we are like the waves of the sea, tossed about by our emotions.
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 9:4-6.
Given that lions were revered and dogs viewed as scavengers, What do you think Solomon was trying to tell us here?
- Regardless of one’s position or the respect that we would hold, Solomon viewed it better to be a live contemptible person than a dead leader or king.
Why is it so important to have a broad-based knowledge of Scripture?
- This is another good example of Solomon’s erroneous thinking. When we take Scripture literally, we can easily draw an incorrect conclusion. Remember that it is through the study of all of God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we avoid the trap that Solomon fell into.
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 9:7-10.
What drives someone to have such a lack of hope and faith?
- Limiting our view to wisdom, observation, and experience, leaves a hopeless view. It is only the hope brought to us through Christ that keeps man-kind from the despair of Solomon.
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 9:11-12.
What are Solomon’s five examples of why he views life as one big gamble?
- We may be faster but still loose.
- We may have the most power but lose the battle.
- We may put our best efforts forward into earning a living, but still go hungry.
- We may be absolutely brilliant, but not become wealthy.
- We may be the most learned of men, but still not be respected by others.
Are these true for us?
- No, we have the Hope of eternity.
Are these true for the world?
- Yes, they have no hope beyond the grave without Christ.
Section Two: The Wisdom
Read Ecclesiastes 9:13-10:1.
What kind of practical advice can we find in these verses?
- We are often attracted to position, wealth, power, etc. Solomon points out this human weakness. As our lesson, we should look more deeply for the wisdom and less to the surface items. While the world may be unfair, the Church should work to rise above.
Section Three: The Folly
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:2-4. Traditionally, the right was meant to be the path to prosperity and the left to disaster.
What is Solomon’s advice in verse 4?
- To shout, or to lose one’s head may lead to making errors. Solomon’s observations are that a cool head and “quiet words” will make one able to survive.
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:5-20.
Notes: Solomon points to the reciprocal. The world isn’t fair. Sometimes, the fool gets promoted.
Section Four: Life’s Uncertainties
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:8-9.
What is Solomon telling us about life?
- It is unpredictable.
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:10-15.
Can we overcome the unpredictable nature of the world?
- Solomon sees that skill is good to an extent. It can, when applied to problems, sometime overcome them.
Have someone in your group read Ecclesiastes 10:16-20.
What are the “almost certain” things that Solomon sees in the world?
- A well run kingdom is desirable. This can be applied to both a company, a household and a marriage.
- Money buys pleasures. Having money makes a difference.
- Loyalty to royalty is important. This again can be applied to a company, a household and a marriage.
Section Five: The Invincible Evil Is Defeated
How do we find out if God loves us?
- Through revelation guided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God brought to life in Christ.
Read Romans 8:28-29 to your group.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
- The inevitable cycle of faith is supported by God’s desire to change each of us into the image of His Son, Jesus. Our faith is that, all things, both good and bad, are under God’s observation (predestined) and He allows them to happen so that we can accept His grace (justification), through faith, complete our maturing (sanctification), and become perfect (glorification) in Christ.
Have someone in your group read Romans 8:31-39.
Why should we believe that God loves us?
- He gave His son in our defense.
Bible Truth Being Taught
We are in God’s hands, and can be confident He will work in every experience to do good.
To trust God to do good in the pleasant and painful experiences of our lives.