Ecclesiastes 1:1 Pt. 1
The Words of the Preacher
1:1 "The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem" (ESV)
It's the Lord's Day and the congregants have gathered into the pews. The offering is taken, prayers go up, worship songs play with jubilation and passion, and then a quiet takes over the sanctuary as the man of the God comes forward to speak. He stands before everyone having prayed for countless hours. He has struggled with how to present the message that lay before him. He relies on the Holy Spirit to help guide his thoughts and words. If he could, he'd be invisible with only his voice audible. So many eyes stare towards him expectantly. He clears his throat, opens the bible, and relying on God begins to relay the message placed on his heart.
Such are the ways of the preacher.
Convening the Assembly
Before us in the verse, we find the title of the book – Ecclesiastes, one who convenes an assembly. The writer of the book declares his intentions. Upon his heart, the Spirit has placed a burden that he must share with those who will listen. Accordingly, the author seeks to call the assembly of Israel before them. "I have a message!" The preacher declares. "Gather, my precious children, Gather!" He has words that must be shared and penned for all to hear and read. It's an opening filled with conviction as to the role placed on his shoulders. The role he must fill is of such importance that it comes first before his earthly lineage and titles. He finds that he has a duty, a responsibility, an order from on high to present this message regardless of the personal pain it will inflict both on the speaker and those who listen.
The words the preacher presented within this book are not a direct revelation from God such as what the great prophets of old received like Elijah or Isaiah or Jeremiah relayed to the masses. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the preacher pens a message gained from experience. It's unpleasant, flawed, without true hope, and without any pride. The words reveal the wisdom belonging to the world "under the sun" which is to say the fallen world, sin-tainted creation. This preacher's words are without grace and mercy. This is a fallen sermon by a fallen man for a fallen people.
Words of Grace and Mercy
In the current age of grace in which we live, the words are always tinted with grace and mercy. The preacher of today may have hard messages that cut both ways like a two-edged sword, but there's grace and mercy that heal those wounds. We have a great message that rings true today as it did a two-thousand years ago and will ring true five-thousand years from now. You may ask what that message is, and I think Paul sums it up well in 1 Timothy 3:16:
"Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory." (ESV)
We have the message of Christ. The sayings of Ecclesiastes will be revealed to be harsh and unrelenting, but the reality is not so through Christ. Our confidence is in the promises of the Lord who will never forget. Our souls are kept within the palm of the mighty Creator who laid the foundations of Earth and who serves as the fount of all life.
If every sermon was penned onto paper for the assemblies of God to read, this would be the opening to each one. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says! Your Preacher, appointed by God, King of Kings, has brought the message of God through the workings of the Holy Spirit." We, the congregants must keep these truths in mind every time we sit under the teachings of our pastors. Perhaps, we will find it harder for the worldly thoughts to cloud our minds and maybe, we'll sit up straighter with our eyes focused on the scripture, and our ears tuned in to hear the message with solemn spirits understanding that souls are in the balance.
The message is one that is good for "teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." It worships the Lord and presents Christ to each of us. It calls for reflection and exhorts us to holiness. It points all our eyes towards the heavens for salvation, mercy, grace, love, peace, purpose, compassion, and understanding. It draws us near to God and binds us to Him.
Let us be attentive to the words of the preacher and let not the message of the preacher fall onto deaf ears.