This is the book of man "under the sun," reasoning about life; it is the best man can do, with the knowledge that there is a holy God, and that He will bring every-thing into judgment. The key phrases are "under the sun;" "I perceived"; "I said in my heart." Inspiration sets down accurately what passes, but the conclusions and reasonings are, after all, man's. That those conclusions are just in declaring it "vanity" in view of judgment, to devote life to earthly things, is surely true; but the "conclusion" ( Ecclesiastes 12:13 ) is legal, the best that man apart from redemption can do, and does not anticipate the Gospel.
Ecclesiastes is in five parts:
- Theme, 1:1-3.
- Theme proved, 1:4-3:22.
- Theme unfolded in the light of human sufferings, hypocrisies, uncertainties, poverty and riches, 4:1-10:20.
- The best thing possible to the natural man apart from God, 11:1-12:12.
- The best thing possible to man under the law, 12:13,14.