Lesson 4: Overview of Ecclesiastes/Song of Solomon
Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here
1. To give students a basic overview of the structure and themes of the Old Testament books of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon
2. To help students understand the purest definition of purpose and inspire them to commit to live in a way which honors the Scripture
3. To help students understand the purest definition of love and inspire them to commit to live in a way which honors the Scripture
(NOTE TO TEACHER: This lesson is organized a little differently. Since we’re seeking to tackle two books, we’re doing two different chunks of “Digging Deep” and “Making it Real,” one for each book. Also as a result, each book is covered more briefly. Just a heads up of the slightly different organizational structure of this lesson.)
Fearing God, Honor God, Love, Peer Pressure, Purity, Relationships, Self-Control, Self-Worth
Ecclesiastes 12:13; Song of Solomon 2:7
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (5 minutes)
Let’s start by playing “The Meaning Game.” The idea is simple, read the following riddles and challenge students to determine the meaning of each.
1. I can be found where anything cannot; dead men eat me all the time, but if a living man eats me, he'll die. (I am nothing.)
2. What vehicle is spelled the same way frontward and backwards? (RACECAR)
3. What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, and has a bed but never sleeps? (a river)
Today we’re going to read from the Scriptures passages that in some ways can be baffling and hard to understand. We want to try to unscramble these truths and find some meaningful things we can take away.
GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)
Today we’re going to tackle not one book, but two—Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Both of them were written by Solomon, the same man who wrote most of Proverbs, which we studied last week.
1. What do you remember about Solomon? (He was the richest, wisest man ever to live, etc.)
2. What do you know already about Ecclesiastes? Song of Solomon? (Allow for discussion.)
DIGGING IN - Part One (15 minutes)
It may seem strange to lump these two books together. But in at least one very obvious way, these two books speak to a common theme—meaning. We’re going to take a bird’s eye view of each book and what meaning they represent. The first, Ecclesiastes, seeks to reveal the meaning of life. The second, Song of Solomon, is a book dedicated to sharing the meaning of love.
These two topics have served as great mysteries for generations before us to solve. Lots of different theories have been promoted. What is life? What is love? How can we get answers to deep questions surrounding each? The place to go is the Bible. So turn to Ecclesiastes, as we’ll start there.
When you read the book of Ecclesiastes, you get the strange idea that the author is depressed or something. Each page is filled with the statement that in life there is much vanity, or, meaninglessness. Let’s look at some of these verses.
Have someone, or several people, read these passages
It’s an incredible survey. From the first chapter to the last, the author (Solomon) notices that much of life is meaningless. But in the end, he gives meaning to life.
Read Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
The meaning of life, Solomon concludes, is to fear God and keep His commandments
This is not new. In fact, Solomon is echoing the words of Deuteronomy.
Read Deuteronomy 13:4
The New Testament also reflects these truths.
Read John 14:15
Read Philippians 2:12
MAKING IT REAL - Part One (10 minutes)
The Bible is clear, the meaning of life is to fear God and keep His commandments. But how well do you truly embrace life’s meaning. I’m going to ask you some questions now. I want you to strive to be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t give the answer you know you’re supposed to give. Answer how you really feel.
1. Before we had read these verses, what would you have said about the meaning of life?
2. What would you have said is the meaning of your life?
3. Do you fear God? What do you think that means? How do you live that out?
4. John 14:15 says that if we love Jesus we’ll keep His commandments. Based on that measurement, how much do you think you love Jesus?
Knowing the meaning of life is foundational to following Jesus. Wrestle with these questions and don’t settle for anything less than grasping what the meaning of life is and seeking to live it out in obedience to God.
DIGGING IN - Part Two (7 minutes)
After Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament is the Song of Solomon. There’s no doubt that this book is unique in its content, it’s a love song from Solomon to a woman. Some have allegorized it to represent God’s love for the church, but some of the content included begs to differ. In some cases it’s sort of graphic, with the appearance and qualities of the lover being complimented in very sensual terms.
But there are also some snippets of this book which provide a great deal of wisdom for those who have yet to be married. Here is the summary statement of the book of Song of Solomon as it applies to us today:
Don’t wake love until you’re ready to live with it.
Read Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4
This theme is throughout the book. And it’s encouragement to you as a teenager is plain: don’t imagine yourself to be in love when you’re not ready to deal with love’s consequences. The Bible instructs us in the ways of love, and to be honest, it’s a lot of responsibility, a responsibility for which the majority of teenagers are not yet prepared.
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love, in our world, is not treated in such a sacred way. Love is disposable, temporary, and not required to persevere. The message of Song of Solomon, as we’ve seen, is quite different. Heed these wise words, and don’t try to love when you do not understand what it means to love.
MAKING IT REAL - Part Two (10 minutes)
1. Re-read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 again. Do you think you are those things? To what degree are you? What are you not great at being?
2. Do any of you think you’ve made mistakes when it comes to relationships in the past? Why?
3. Do you see benefit in waiting until you’ve matured before before you become seriously involved with a member of the opposite sex? Explain.
4. What are some ways you see people “awakening love before it is ready"? How has that hurt people you know (or maybe even yourself)?"
Think through those tough questions. Nothing has destroyed young people as much as relationships gone badly. Some of you have experienced that pain first hand. The Bible is clear on this point—relationships are not a game. Love is a serious thing. If you are not ready to be selfless, sacrificial, and sensitive to someone else, you are not ready to love. So don’t try to awaken love in your life before you (and the other person) are ready.
CLOSING PRAYER (2 minutes)
We’ve covered a lot of tough, heady stuff today. The meaning of life and the meaning of love is no easy thing to grasp. We need wisdom if we’re going to understand these things and live them out. Let’s spend some time in silent, individual prayer. After a few moments, I’ll finish up for us.