THIS IS THE BOOK OF THINGS ABOVE AND UNDER THE SUN
"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity" Eccles. 1:2
The subtitle of this book found in our translations, "or the Preacher," we owe to Luther, and it is misleading. As Dr. Plumptre has argued at length, and proved conclusively, the more correct rendering of the Hebrew word Koheleth would be "The Debater." This is important, for it at once reminds us that here we have Discussion, rather than Teaching. In these words we have the general proposition of the Debater. Everything he says from here on to 11:8 is in defense of this statement. Then in a paragraph, brief but pregnant (11:9-12), he gives an entirely different view of life, which is a correction of this. Let us, then, at once face this opening declaration. It is an absolutely accurate statement of life when it is lived under certain conditions; but it is not true as a statement of what life must necessarily be. There are thousands of men and women today who cannot, and do not, accept this to be true of life as they find it; it is not vanity, vapor, emptiness, nothingness. To them life in every way is real, rich, full, glorious. It is best, then, that at the beginning we should understand the viewpoint of the Debater. His declaration is that THINGS IN THEMSELVES BRING NO SATISFACTION TO THE SOUL OF MAN. To live on the earth without recognition of the supreme wisdom which begins and continues in the fear of Jehovah, to deal only with that hemisphere which is "under the sun," is indeed to find things of exceeding wonder and beauty and power; but it is to find nothing that satisfies, and to be left at last without any reality, to find only vanity, vapor, emptiness and many end up there.