Job to  Ecclesiastes

Job's contentment contrasts Solomon's depression.


FE 17Job was old and full of days and died. (Job 42:17 BRB)
FE 1The words of the preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem: H 1 Kings 11:41 Ecclesiastes 1:12Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:2 (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 BRB)

The contrast between Job and Solomon is most vivid at the transition between the two books. Compare the last verse of Job with the first two verses of Ecclesiastes.

Late in life Job was content while Solomon thought life was vanity.

Job and Ecclesiastes are written to show a life arc. The books care about the outcome of a lifetime of living. Job's ordeal takes up the bulk of his book, but the outcome is covered well at the end. Ecclesiastes is Solomon's reflection on all the things he's done to find contentment. His age at time of writing is unknown, but he's looking back at when he was younger, so he's in the latter part of life.

Ecclesiastes basically shows all the ways not to find contentment. Solomon experiments with so many avenues in life, but slides deeper in depression. The frustration is palpable. In contrast Job works hard at pleasing God and finds himself in a terrible ordeal dropped on him by none other than God. Yet he does not give up on God. In the end God lifts the trouble, Job's prayers are answered, and he finds contentment.

Job stuck it out with God where Solomon blamed him. Job was visited by God where Solomon thought he was distant. Job was vindicated where Solomon was not. Job's prayers were answered where Solomon never prayed. Job found contentment where Solomon hopelessly concluded "all is vanity."

The reader might be conditioned to think Solomon wise, but Solomon's shortcomings are easy to see next to Job. Solomon never went through anything like Job experienced, yet Solomon is the one who blamed God. The result is not good for Solomon where Job fared well.

The two men have different worldviews that clash when these books touch. Only by seeing Ecclesiastes through Job does the reader see so clearly what's wrong with Solomon and what's right with Job.


There are a couple other similarities between Job and Solomon. Job was the wealthiest man of his time, as was Solomon. When Job was restored he was given double his original worth, which made him very wealthy, but his contentment did not come from his material worth. That's clear because Solomon is the wealthiest man of his time and in Ecclesiastes he's still not content even with so much material wealth. The lesson is that riches do not bring contentment. Job's contentment did not come from wealth.