Comparing Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, Part 2

Dr. Steve Viars October 13, 2001 Proverbs 0:

- Last week we began a comparison of the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes.

- we saw that both books are about priorities, but written from different perspectives…

- the book of Ecclesiastes illustrates the principle from the negative perspective…where Solomon in essence is saying…here’s examples of wrong priorities and where that approach to life leads..

- whereas the book of Proverbs speaks about the topic from the positive perspective…here’s what ones priorities ought to be…and if you live this way…here’s the result.


- one of the great things about Ecclesiastes is that it so powerfully illustrates the conditions in our day…


1.  Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 – Wisdom


- in other words, trying to derive answers to the questions of life apart from a personal relationship with God.

- the NT might define this as “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”

- Solomon speaks about the vanity of such a pursuit.

- cf. v. 15 – “what is crooked cannot be straightened, and what is lacking cannot be counted.”


2.  Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 – Pleasure


- the interesting thing about this section is, Solomon not only dreamed about pleasure, he had the financial wherewithal to make it happen.

- he built houses, gardens, parks, etc.

- cf. vv. 8-11

- how sad to conclude the discussion in verse 11 with “there was no profit under the sun”


3.  Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 – Working for Wealth


- the emphasis here was on what happens to ones’ wealth after he is gone.

- who know if the person who inherits it will be wise or a fool.

- in other words, there is no lasting value to such pursuit.

- so he concludes this section with even more depressing words, “Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest.  This too is vanity.”

- so the bottom line is, priorities that neglect God and biblical truth will always produce vanity, emptiness, despair, and ruin.

- But then Solomon comes around at the end of the book and draws this very important conclusion…Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 - The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.  For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

- our goal now is to factor that information back into this discussion of priorities.

- you could summarize these two emphases with the words worship and obedience.

- fear [standing in awe of, having reverence for] God and keep His commandments.


- so when you look at our priorities, if what we’re doing does not fit under those headings, then they will lead to vanity.

- the beauty of this is, it provides the balance we so desperately need.


- let’s run a couple of ideas through this grid and see where it leads…


1.  Cf. the man who is working 70-80 hours a week so he can climb the corporate ladder?

- and in so doing, is ignoring family responsibilities and opportunities, as well as opportunities at church, responsibilities to his own health, etc.

- how does this grid potentially help?

- needs to ask --- am I worshipping God, or worshipping work, prestige, money.

- need to ask, am I obeying God in fulfilling my responsibilities to my family, to my church, for my own physical health, etc.


- what about the guy who would say, but if I cut back on my hours, I might lose my job?

- that’s another place where this passage clearly helps us…

- it comes down to what we’re going to fear…value…prize.


2.  Cf. the wife who is bitter and given up on working on the marriage.

- has stopped communicating…

- become cold and distant…

- she long ago stopped worshipping God…

- continuing to work on the marriage is a command from God…

- it is her act of spiritual service [cf. Rom. 12]

- this needs to be her priority whether she feels like it or not.


- in the time we have remaining, we’d like to chase these ideas of worship and obedience through several well-known passages of Scripture.

- the point is to show how prominent these ideas are in God’s Word.

- the goal is to help us evaluate our own priorities…so that we don’t use our lives in a way that causes us to conclude at the end, it was vanity.


B.  The priorities examined

1.  in the lives of Adam and Eve – Gen. 2-3.


- INPUT – What were Adam and Eve’s priorities?

- INPUT – How did pursuing these priorities lead to vanity?

- INPUT – Walk through this event, this time with them following the priorities of Eccles. 12:13-14 – How would things have been different?


[Marty – please handle #2 and #3 --- take as long as you wish]


2.  in God’s instructions to His people –

Ex. 20; Lev. 26.


INPUT – How do the 10 Commandments illustrate the two principles we’re discussing?

[the first 4 are about worship, the last 6 are about obedience]


INPUT – How do we see these two ideas emphasized in the commandments to the priests in Leviticus 26?


3.  in Moses’ rehearsal of the law –

Deut. 10:12.


- INPUT - How are the emphases apparent in this passage?


- INPUT – Why do you think the Lord kept “hammering away at these issues?


[With remaining time, chase the theme through as many of the points below as possible]


4.  in God’s preparation of Joshua –

Josh. 1:8.


5.  in the Psalms.

112:1 –


128:1 –


139:14, 23-24 –


141:2-4 –


6.  in the Sermon on the Mount – Matt. 6:33.


7.  in Jesus’ answer to a scribe –

Mk. 12:28-31.


8.  in The Great Commission –

Matt. 28:19-20.

9.  in Paul’s response to Christ –

Acts 22:1-10.

10.  in Paul’s instruction to the church –

II Cor. 5:9-11; book of Ephesians.


Conclusion – Key Questions

Asking “What am I living for?” will reveal ones purpose.

Asking “What do I expend my time, energy, and money on?” will reveal ones priorities.

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