Ecclesiastes 1 – All Smoke: Life Under the Sun

Ecclesiastes is an often misunderstood Old Testament book. When you hear “Old Testament,” do your best to think of those books as being as important and as helpful for you today as New Testament books, by the way.
The book of Ecclesiastes has gone through multiple interpretations by biblical experts, Hebrew Rabbis, and faithful Christians who seek to understand and apply its message. We should at least understand this book to be one man’s journey to grasp the sum and substance of life, at times apart from God’s ways and wisdom. This man – the Preacher – points us to Solomon, son of King David, who as a boy prayed for wisdom from God to know how to lead the nation he had inherited (see 1 Kings 3:1 and following). God indeed gave him wisdom beyond any who had lived before, then, or since, except for Jesus Christ (see 1 Kings 4:29 and following).
Ecclesiastes is a book that acts like a “back door” for the Christian to deal with the frustrations of life. It’s also an invitation for the curious, concerned, or critical minds to see that the Word of God really speaks to their felt and lived experiences, and offers a simple solution: accept that the world is flawed and live well in it by looking to God alone to supply what matters most – eternal hope.
Questions/Discussion Guide:
Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 and Psalm 111:10
How would you describe biblical wisdom?
How would you begin to make sense of life apart from God’s ways and wisdom if you had to?
Do you know people right now who are trying to make sense of life and the world apart from God? What would a wise Christian lifestyle say to them?
Read Ecclesiastes 1:12-18
What aspects of ordinary or routine life do you find frustrating or challenging?
Do you find that these frustrations and challenges drive you toward God? If not, how could this change?
Do you find it surprising that the Bible is so honest about life in a broken world?
Read Colossians 3:1-3

What are the “things above” that these verses refer to?

Practically speaking, what makes it difficult to think of “things above?”