Ecclesiastes 1:2—How can this book be part of the Scriptures since it contains such skepticism?

Problem: Several statements that Solomon makes throughout this book indicate a skepticism that seems contrary to the Bible as a whole. In Ecclesiastes 9:5 Solomon says, “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing.” However, the Book of Ecclesiastes is included in the canon of Holy Scriptures as an inspired book. How can such a skeptical book be inspired Scripture?

Solution: Although Ecclesiastes does contain statements that, when taken in isolation, appear to be contrary to the teaching of the Bible, the book is not a book of skepticism. Once these statements are understood in their contexts, their meaning is compatible with other Scriptures. Such statements as found in Ecclesiastes 1:2 are not designed to produce or to promote skepticism. Rather, Solomon is recording his search for happiness and meaning in life by pursuing everything that this world offers. Each of these seemingly skeptical observations is aimed at demonstrating that, apart from God, everything “under the sun” is only vanity, and that the only source of true happiness and lasting peace is the Lord our God. Solomon’s investigations led eventually to the conclusion that the whole duty of man is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecc. 12:13).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.