The opening verse gives the title of the book: ''The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.'' The second verse gives the theme of the book: ''Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.'' But it must be remembered that he speaks only of that which is ''under the sun,'' a phrase that is used 29 times in Ecclesiastes.
This book, given by divine inspiration, is a record of the bitter disappointment that awaits people whose faith soars no higher than the sun. The conclusion a man like that reaches is stated in this key text: ''...all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun'' (Ecc 2:11).
C.I. Scofield has written, ''It is what man, with the knowledge that there is a holy God and that He will bring everything into judgment, discovers of the emptiness of setting the heart upon things under the sun.''
No song brightens its pages; no praise is heard amid its exercises. And yet perfectly assured we may be that, listened to aright, it shall speak forth the praise of God's beloved Son; looked at in a right light, it shall set off His beauty. If ''He turns the wrath of man to praise Him,'' surely we may expect no rest from man's sorrows and ignorances. This, then, we may take it, is the object of the book, to show forth by its dark background the glory of the Lord, to bring into glorious relief against the black cloud of man's need and ignorance the bright light of a perfect, holy revelation; to let man tell out, in the person of his greatest and wisest, when he too is at the summit of his greatness, with the full advantage of his matured wisdom, the solemn questions of his inmost being; and show that greatness to be of no avail in solving them, that wisdom foiled in the search for their answers. (emphasis ours)