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Ecclesiastes - Reformed Expository Commentary (O'Donnell)

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Ecclesiastes raises questions that haunt everyone to some degree. We live in a busy world, but does our busyness have a purpose? Or will the tyranny of time render all our labor pointless? If our efforts are doomed by death, how are we supposed to live in the meantime?

Douglas O’Donnell turns to Ecclesiastes to show us that lives of seeming futility “under the sun” become filled with joy and meaning if we live “under the rule of the Son.” O’Donnell argues that wisdom literature is best seen through the teachings of Jesus, who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Here learn from Ecclesiastes to find meaning in life by abandoning illusions of self-importance, putting aside all pride, and embracing divine wisdom.

As are all the books in the Reformed Expository Commentary series, this exposition of Ecclesiastes is accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each volume in the series provides exposition that gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ through the lens of redemptive history, and applies the Bible to our contemporary setting.

Table of Contents: 

  1. The End of Ecclesiastes: An Introduction (1:1-2)
  2. Why I Wake Early (1:3-11)
  3. A Crack in the Window of Wisdom (1:12-18)
  4. The Hollow House of Hedonism (2:1-11)
  5. Enjoyment East of Eden (2:12-26)
  6. The Terrific Truth about Time (3:1-15)
  7. Sights under the Sun (3:16-22)
  8. It Is Not Good for the Children of Man to Be Alone (4:1-16)
  9. Sandals Off, Mouth Shut (5:1-7)
  10. Grievous Evils, Great Joys (5:8-6:9)
  11. Instructions from the Grave (6:10-7:14)
  12. Finding the Fear of God in a Crooked World (7:15-29)
  13. Living within the Limits to the Limit (8:1-15)
  14. What to Know about Knowing Nothing (8:16-9:12)
  15. Dead Flies, a Serpent’s Bite, and Twitter (9:13-10:20)
  16. Before the Evil Days Come (11:1-12:8)
  17. Repining Restlessness (12:9-14)



Douglas Sean O'Donnell (MA, Trinity Evangelical Division School; MA, Wheaton College Graduate School) is the senior pastor of New Covenant Church in Naperville, Illinois. 



“Witty, insightful, and exceptionally well researched, Doug O-Donnell’s new commentary is one that I enthusiastically recommend. If you’re a preacher who is interested in communicating the truth of Ecclesiastes in a fresh way, this is a must-have volume for your library.” – Scott A. Wenig, Haddon Robinson Chair of Biblical Preaching, Denver Seminary

“Ecclesiastes is a book for our time: its relentless examination of the source of meaning and relevance finds echoes in every facet of contemporary life and its restless pursuit of happiness. Douglas Sean O’Donnell’s treatment of Ecclesiastes is both fresh and thorough…A wonderful achievement.” – Derek W.H. Thomas  

“Exhibits a masterly tracing of the exalted, Christ-infused, intercanonical connections that will aid the reader in focusing on Christ Jesus, the only answer to an empty life…The author’s engaging style makes for superb reading as well as study. Doug O’Donnell’s Ecclesiastes is a masterwork that will be read for generations to come.” – R. Kent Hughes