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The word Ecclesiastes means “preacher,” or “assembly speaker.” From the earliest times, this preacher has been identified as Solomon, the third king of ancient Israel. In the first chapter, for example, we find these words about the author: “I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:12).
Many readers don't like the book of Ecclesiastes. “It's too depressing,” they say. And frankly, the book does contain many expressions of pessimism and doubt. But these thoughts were apparently written by Solomon in his old age after wandering away from God. He describes life “under the sun”—life without God—and reminds us that it is meaningless and empty. He spoke out of his own depressing experience with selfish, sinful living.
At the close of the book, he points the way to making our personal existence one of value and meaning. He says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”