Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2019

This is a helpful work on that most intriguing work, the book of Ecclesiastes, although it is neither a commentary nor a series of sermons. It seems to be a collection of 22 studies which began life as sermon notes. The style is that of a preacher with short, simple sentences, but it does become rather predictable, along the lines of ‘Verse 3 says this, verse 5 says that, and so on.’

The familiar ‘Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity’ is translated as ‘Most vaporous, most vaporous, everything is vapour.’ While there is nothing new under the sun, everything becomes new under the Son. The tone of Ecclesiastes seems to become more Proverbs-like at chapter 7, verses 1-12. 7:13-29 constitutes a difficult section but Shaw handles it with a steady hand. There are some trip-ups, in my view. In 6:3 the reference is probably to burial, not to not dying. Also, the reference to the television series Breaking Bad went over my head (p.93). The apparent sexism in 7:28 is explained, or explained away – I fear the latter.

Ecclesiastes is a book that ought to be used more often in seeking to reach thoughtful readers. A guide is always welcome, and I profited, I trust, from working through this part of God’s Word with one who had delved deeply into it. Life is most vaporous, but we must trust the present and the future to God.


Life in a Fallen World

Benjamin Shaw | Banner of Truth

Available at Reformers Bookshop