Is the Book of Ecclesiastes Reliable?


I have been told that we cannot depend upon Ecclesiastes, because it was written by King Solomon, who turned away from God. Please comment.


Ecclesiastes can be considered King Solomon’s personal memoirs and he did indeed turn away from God. Does this mean we cannot rely upon his words as Scripture? On the contrary, sometimes the best lessons come from those who, themselves, failed to apply them. The book conveys one message distinctly: that turning from God does not bring happiness.

Ecclesiastes has much to teach us—about the mortal nature of the human race, and the end of all earthly pursuits; of the worthlessness and futility of life apart from God; and our personal accountability to God.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, it is obvious that Solomon is telling his own life story, of his own waywardness and fruitless pursuit of pleasure. But he never recommends it as the way to eternal life, nor does he say anything good about it, even for the present. No one reading his book can miss the central point: that life without God is “vanity of vanities,” a lesson all of us need to learn.

We have not space here to go into the details of the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, but a study of the evidence is very convincing that the composition of the sixty-six letters of the present canon, in their original form, are without error. If the Bible is not wholly the Word of God; if we must be continually sorting out portions which may not be reliable, what kind of guide do we have for our lives? Paul confirms the Holy supervision when he says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) .

The book of Ecclesiastes is part of the canon of Scripture just as much as Proverbs (which he also wrote), or the Psalms (authored by his father David, who committed some very great sins himself), or any other book. We find no contradictions between Ecclesiastes and the remainder of Scripture, on the contrary many specific teachings are confirmed elsewhere.

Solomon wrote the wisdom God gave him (1 Kings 4:29) and which God wanted written for our learning. Though God usually spoke through His faithful servants, that was not always the case. And a man, such as Solomon, who turned from God and failed to take advantage of his opportunities, is perhaps one of the best instructors we could have. For it is vital to know the bitterness and frustration of turning from God, as well as the benefits of serving Him.