Matthew Poole's Commentary
ECCLESIASTES; OR, The Preacher
THREE things in general are to be noted concerning this book:
1. The author of it, who was Solomon, as is manifest both from the common consent of Jewish and Christian writers, and from the express words of the first verse. Nor can any thing be opposed to it but bold and groundless conjectures. That he wrote it in his old age is more than probable from divers passages in it, as, that he did it after his buildings, Ecc 2:4, which yet took up twenty years of his life, 1Ki 9:10, and after some considerable enjoyment of them, and planting of gardens and orchards, and reaping the fruit of them, Ecc 2:5-6, and after long and much consideration and experience of all those methods in which men expected to find happiness, and after he had been deeply plunged in impure and inordinate loves, Ecc 7:27, &c., and from many other places, which may be observed by any diligent reader. And so this book was written by him as a public testimony of his repentance and detestation of all those vain and wicked courses to which he had addicted himself; wherein he followed the example of his father David, who after his sad fall penned the 51st Psalm. And the truth of this opinion may be confirmed by that expression, 2Ch 11:17, they walked in the way of David and Solomon, i.e. wherein they walked both before their falls, and after their repentance.
2. The form or method of it. For whereas there are some passages in it which may seem offensive and impious, for which some few persons have suspected its authority, it must be considered that it is in part dramatical, as was said before of the Book of Proverbs, and that Solomon speaks some and most things in his own name, but some other things in the names and according to the opinions of those worldly and ungodly men, as is undeniably manifest, both from the scope and design of the book, as it is expressed both in the beginning and in the conclusion of it, and from his serious and large disputation against those wicked principles and courses. And this way of writing is not unusual amongst both sacred and profane writers.
3. The design and business of it, which is to describe man's true happiness, and the way leading to it; which he doth both negatively, asserting and proving that it is not to be found either in secular wisdom, or in sensual pleasures, or in worldly greatness and glory, or in abundance of riches, or in a vain profession of religion; and positively, showing that it is to be had only by the fear of God, and obedience to his laws, which alone can give a man a contented and cheerful enjoyment of his present comforts, and assurance of his future and everlasting happiness.