Eccl. 1:2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and indeed, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
The contents of Ecclesiastes are a description by Solomon, after his falling away from God and returning back to God, concerning the human life of fallen mankind under the sun, which is in the corrupted world. He set his heart to seek and to search out all that is done under the heavens, and he observed that according to the natural phenomena all the things done in cycle remain the same, generation after generation, all wearisome and nothing new. In his conclusion, this is all vanity of vanities and a chasing after wind to the human life of fallen mankind. Such a conclusion of the wise king by his wisdom may be considered a history of the vain life of a fallen man. His conclusion in this book is like a dirge to a man whose end is in misery. (Life-study of Ecclesiastes, pp. 1-2)
According to Ecclesiastes, human history, from its beginning to the present, is vanity…. Paul’s word concerning this in Romans 8:20-21 corresponds to Ecclesiastes. Today everyone is actually not living but dying. We have been born to die; that is, we have been dying since the day of our birth. From this we see that human life under the sun is vanity of vanities.
Solomon had unequaled wisdom, the supreme position, unsurpassed wealth, and hundreds of wives and concubines, and fell in the indulgence of his lust to an unparalleled extent. Through all the positive and negative experiences of the human life under the sun, his thought was deeply impressed and occupied with the central thought of this book, that is, the vanity of vanities of the human life under the sun in its falling away from God. Man was created by God with the highest and most noble purpose, that is, to express Him in the resemblance of Him in His life, nature, and expression. But God’s enemy, Satan the devil, came in to inject himself as sin into the man created by God for His purpose. Through this fall of man, man and all the created things that had been committed by God to his dominion were brought into the slavery of corruption, made subject to vanity (Rom. 8:20-21). Thus, the human life in the corrupted world also became a vanity, a chasing after wind. The writer Solomon had fully realized this and stressed this to the uttermost in his description. Yet he was not fully disappointed in this, but rather he instructed men that there is a way to get out of this vanity, that is, to come back to God and take God as man’s everything, redemption, life, wealth, enjoyment, pleasure, and satisfaction, that man still may be used by God to fulfill His original purpose in man for the fulfillment of His eternal economy (Eccl. 12:13-14). (Life-study of Ecclesiastes, pp. 2-3)
Proverbs is on the real wisdom, and Ecclesiastes is on the real meaning of the human life under the sun, which is vanity of vanities, a chasing after wind. Song of Songs is the satisfaction of satisfactions. Apart from Christ, there is no satisfaction in the whole universe. The unique Christ, the embodiment of God, is the unique satisfaction not only to man but to the entire universe, which has been made subject to vanity (Rom. 8:20). The fact that the creation is now subject to vanity means that everything under the sun is vanity. Today God is embodied in Christ, and Christ is realized as the compounded, sevenfold, all-inclusive, life-giving Spirit, who is the consummation of the processed Triune God. This indwelling One is our subjective satisfaction. (Life-study of Proverbs, p. 54)
Further Reading: Life-study of Ecclesiastes, msgs. 1-2; CWWL, 1954, vol. 3, “Gospel Outlines,” outl. 41; Life-study of Proverbs, msgs. 1, 4, 8