Chronological Reading Plan Commentary – Ecclesiastes 2

Here is a commentary from Kane on Ecclesiastes 2 from our Chronological Bible in a Year Bible reading plan – to join in on this on the YouVersion Bible app click here.

Ecclesiastes has one of the most striking introductions of any book in the Bible: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Modern editions translate this as, “All is meaningless!”) The bleak nature of this introduction can discourage readers to continue reading, but the true purpose of this text is revealed in the phrase ‘under the sun’. When we read ‘under the sun’ in its poetic context, we realise the author is presenting a thought experiment. To imagine a world that exists only ‘under the sun’ is to imagine a world where there is no God, and therefore no morality, value or eternity beyond this world. When you keep this context in mind, you start to realise the folly of an atheistic viewpoint. In a world without God, life truly is meaningless and our desires can never be satisfied (Eccl 1:8). Even a life of self-indulgence becomes meaningless (Eccl 2:11).

The author then surprises us with a twist in chapter 3. When describing the seasonal nature of life, he uses the term ‘under heaven’ instead of ‘under the sun’ implying the nature of life where God is present (Eccl 3:1). These verses reassure us that in our world where God reigns supreme, everything is ordered to perfection. Nothing is meaningless, but all things have a set purpose at all times. We can take great comfort in this reality.

Have you ever achieved a goal only to find it unfulfilling? Do you find yourself often tempted to have an ‘under the sun’ mindset over an ‘under heaven’ perspective?

Lord, I thank you that the world you have created, and all that inhabits it, is not mere matter and energy with no meaning. You have created everything and everyone for a purpose. Remind me not to live life ‘under the sun’ but rather ‘under heaven.’ Amen.