In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon presents himself as the preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem. He is giving us his pedigree, and foreshadows the greatest of all preachers, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew 1:1, our Lord is introduced also as the Son of David, and this gospel’s great theme is to show Him as king. His pedigree is clearly established in this first chapter. “He spoke as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (7:29). “They wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22). “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). These statements show us the effectiveness of our Lord’s preaching.
The opening verse of this book gives the preacher’s pedigree. Look at the preacher’s preparation (Ch 12:9,10). “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge. Yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.” Here we have the preacher in his study, busy gathering and gleaning suitable material to set before the people. He is diligent, seeking out proverbs, acceptable words, and words of truth. A wise preacher prepares. In Isaiah 50:4, we have that prophetic reference to our
Lord. “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary; He wakeneth morning by morning. He wakeneth my ear to hear as the learned.” These examples are worthy of our study. To preach, prayer and meditation are essential.
His preparation is followed by a definite purpose. Do we have a purpose when we speak? Are we preaching for results, whether to the sinner, to the end that they will be saved, or to the believers that they will be conformed to Christ in their life and walk? Listen to this preacher. “The words of the wise are as goads. And as nails fastened by the master of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.” In this verse, we have two aspects of preaching. The goad is mentioned in the first part. In Judges 3:31, we are introduced to Shamgar, who with an ox goad, slew six hundred men of the Philistines. This was a literal, physical enemy. Our enemies are spiritual and equally dangerous. That which would displace or rob us of our heritage must be dealt with in no uncertain terms. We read in Titus of those who subvert whole houses, whose mouths must be stopped. The goad is also mentioned in Acts 9:5 to that proud, persecuting, young Pharisee, Saul. As he lay prostrate on the ground under the blaze of the glory of the risen Christ, these words rang in his ears “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks (or goads.)” The application of the goad in the first instance is severe. In the second, it is penetrating, to stir conscience, which resulted in Saul’s conversion.
Next we read of the “nails fastened by the masters of assemblies.” Is this not the work of the teacher as he ministers either orally or in written form? He is seeking to fasten the great truths of Scripture upon the hearts and minds of the believers, that they may be established. These include the truths relating to the Person of Christ, the gospel, and the church in its local capacity and practices. He seeks to present these truths in a way that they can be grasped by the youngest believer. Here is something they can lay hold upon with the utmost confidence, knowing it is founded upon the Word of God, a sure foundation, and avoid being carried about by every wind of doctrine.
The moment has come to consider his preaching and some of the methods he uses to bring home his message to the hearers. All the preparation and purpose now comes into view as he speaks. The first thing he seeks to drive home is like a double hammer blow: “Vanity of vanities” (ch 1:2). Repetition comes to the forefront of his message. We read over and over the words, “vanity” and “under the sun.” In preaching, especially gospel preaching, the evangelist seeks repeatedly to drive home the truths of the gospel by the Spirit of God, to bring about conviction. He then presents the person and cross work of Christ, resulting in conversion of the sinner. We further note that he calls upon his experience in chapter 2. He was a man that had the time and means to follow what his heart desired, to show that all this could not bring the satisfaction he sought. Lessons learned in the school of experience, can be passed on to others, that they may learn to avoid that which is harmful and follow that which is for their good. Something more is required to fill the longing heart.
He also uses illustrations to get his points across. In Ch 9:13-15, when speaking of wisdom, he uses the illustration of the poor wise man who delivered the little city from the great king. Yet he was forgotten by the people. He goes on to say that wisdom is better than strength. Wisdom is better than weapons of war. A further illustration is given in Ch 12, in that graphic and unequaled picture of old age. The solemn lesson of this, is to “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” How useful an illustration is to clarify a point or to emphasize some truth, so that it may be established in the minds of the hearers.
This book is full of exhortations, that can be applied both to the unbeliever and the believer. These are drawn from many quarters to make plain what he has in mind. Warnings are also given that are solemn and searching, in view of eternity, to be heeded and obeyed.
Like all wise preachers, he seeks to bring his message to a suitable conclusion. All leads to this end: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: For this is the whole man.” The word “duty” is in italics. The preacher seeks to direct his hearers from all the vanity under the sun. Bunyan illustrates this in one of his characters in Pilgrim’s Progress – the man with the muck rake, grubbing away in the dirt, and failing to notice the crown above his head. A wholesome fear of God is for blessing. Keeping his commandments will lift us above the passing things of time and sense. Only Christ can fill and satisfy the heart of man. This is the key, the crux of what the preacher is aiming at in his preaching.