Comparing Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, Part 1

Dr. Steve Viars October 6, 2001 Proverbs 0:

- for the past several weeks, we’ve been working on an introduction to the book of Proverbs.

- today, and probably next week, we’re going to be looking at a comparison between this book and the book of Ecclesiastes.

- we think that looking at the book through this particular lens will help us when we get into the specific verses in Proverbs.

- let’s start with this…

1.  What is the relationship between the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes?

- we’re going to see this morning that both books are about priorities, worldviews, ways of looking at life…but they present the issues from entirely different/opposite perspectives…

Ecclesiastes – wrongly aligned priorities

Proverbs – rightly aligned priorities


- we all know that priorities are important.

- one of the books we’re using as a guide for this study told about…

2.  Inscriptions over three doors in a chapel in Milan.

All that troubles is but for a moment.

All that pleases is but for a moment.

Nothing is important save that which is eternal.

INPUT – do you agree with those statements?  How and in what ways are they true?


3.  The importance of priorities.

Input – Different priorities people have (good/bad)?   [white board]


- we can also take a list like this one and begin organizing it.  One possible way to do this is…

4.  Categories of wrong priorities.

a.  Competing priorities

- where we have expectations under each heading that are just unreasonable…

- or where one is striving to “be first”

- INPUT – what happens when this is the case?

[frustration, “burnout”]

b.  Confused priorities

- unable/unwilling to make decisions…

- or consistently make wrong ones because priorities have been established, but wrongly so…

c.  Conditional priorities

- don’t stick with the priorities that were established…

- life becomes like the fireman putting out brushfires…

Point – The writer of Proverbs has his priorities straight and wants his children to as well.

- Let’s look at some ideas from these two books to help us clarify our priorities


I.  The Purpose for Living


- In Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us what he tried to do, and how it didn’t work.

A.  Humanistic purposes


[assign following passages to various groups, ask them to try to determine what Solomon had set up as a priority at that time in his life, along with some of the key biblical phrases that described that approach to life in the text]


Eccl. 1:12-18        –  Wisdom


Eccl. 2:1-11           –  Pleasure


Eccl. 2:18-23        –  Working for wealth


B.  The biblical purpose

INPUT – how do each of the following passages express a biblical purpose, and one that is far different than we’ve studied thus far?


Eccl. 12:1


[INPUT - How/in what ways had Solomon forgotten his Creator?  How could that happen to a believer today?  How do we prevent this from happening in our own lives?  The lives of our children?]


Eph. 1:6, 12, 14


[note threefold use of “to the praise of God’s glory”]


I Cor. 10:31


II.  The Priorities for Living


A.  The priorities expressed

If your purpose is ________,

your priority will be ________.

Purpose                                    Priority

Wisdom                                  Education

Pleasure                                Indulgence & gratification

Wealth                                   Work

Two priorities from Eccl. 12:13 - To fear God (worship, reverence), and to obey Him.


[next week we plan to “chase these two ideas” through a number of passages of Scripture to help us reinforce the importance of what these two books are emphasizing]

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video