The Three Tells


The Teacher seems to know the "three tells" of communication, and He establishes a clear course and context for His writings.


Lord Jesus, You are the way to God, the truth about God, and the life in God. Thank You for the purpose that gives me.


Ecclesiastes 1:1-11


Consider:  There is a deep hunger within all of us. Sigmund Freud believed people are hungry for love. Karl Jung insisted that we crave security. Alfred Adler maintained it is significance we are after.

Think Further: 

The oldest rule of communications is the three "tells": "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them." The Teacher seems to know this rule and at the outset he sets a clear course and context for his writings.

Verse 3 gives us the key, not only for this passage but for the whole book. It is the phrase "under the sun." In the Hebrew worldview, this is shorthand for "this place where we live." The most basic distinction in Hebrew thinking is that between the Creator and his creation, God alone dwells beyond and above all things; we might say "behind the sun." We, along with donkeys and chrysanthemums, live here, "under the sun." This, then, is going to be a book about the world we live in. Its wisdom is going to be drawn from, and applied to, the created world.

The Teacher amplifies this assertion by describing: the cycles of the sun itself; the winds and seasons; and the endless flowing of rivers into oceans (5-7). Human history, he asserts (9-11), is part of this same drama. Our life is not divorced from the natural world but is part of it. This is the story in which we find ourselves. Whatever sense we make of it must begin with who we are and where we are. Just as the rivers that run endlessly into the sea never fill it (7), so we are never full, no matter how much knowledge we attain (8). We are hungry to know more, deeply driven to search for meaning. It is to this search, to this hunger that The Teacher will turn our attention. Where better for faith to begin than in the universal human search for meaning?


In contrast to the words of the Teacher, consider the words of Paul: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). What differences do you find?


Lord, in place of my emptiness, You give me fullness. In place of my confusion, You give me direction. In place of my bewilderment, You give me meaning. How great You are.

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