Ecclesiastes and the Search for Meaning in and Upside-Down World

“Ecclesiastes has always been my favorite book of the Bible. Now I love it—and understand it—even more because of Russ Meek’s knowledgeable and lovely exposition. Meek draws connections to the greater plan unfolded in the whole of scripture showing, once again, how every word of God’s word matters.”

Karen Swallow Prior Research Professor of English and Christianity & Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books


About the Book

This unique book combines memoir, exegesis, and theological reflection to demonstrate the ongoing significance of the book of Ecclesiastes to the Christian life in the twenty-first century.

Through exegesis of Old Testament passages and theological reflections on Ecclesiastes, the author deals with issues of abuse, trauma, and forgiveness. For thousands of years, God’s grace and glory have been shining in the stories and poems of broken people: the Psalms give voice to our darkest moments of pain and anger, showing us that God welcomes our rawest emotions; Ecclesiastes and Job help us confront suffering and injustice in life; and the failures of Noah, Jacob, and David help keep us tethered to the God of the Bible.

These stories and poems still speak to the brokenness of humans today, beckoning us into the arms of the God who made us and loves us even though we too are riddled with sin, hurt, and a longing to be loved. By working through the book of Ecclesiastes, we can let the Teacher’s words seep into our hearts and shape our understanding of who God is and how he helps us navigate this upside-down world. This short and engaging book enables us to see how one part of the Old Testament―Ecclesiastes―can help us navigate a world in which things do not always turn out as they should.

Editorial Reviews

“Ecclesiastes is confusing, often frustrating, and sometimes demoralizing. So is life. And yet, with disarming honesty and engaging authenticity, Meek weaves his life struggles into his interpretation of Ecclesiastes to create a tapestry of hope. Holding the text under the microscope of careful exegesis, he enables readers to see how threads from the rest of the Hebrew Bible, particularly Genesis, give the book’s gloomy lines a brighter hue.”

Will Kynes Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, Samford University

“We live in a fallen world and struggle with finding meaning in life. Russell Meek insightfully explores the book of Ecclesiastes, sharing his own difficulties while explaining why this fascinating biblical book speaks to us all in the midst of our problems. Well written, accessible, and theologically profound, I enthusiastically recommend this book for all people who want to grow in their faith and resilience in a difficult world.”

Tremper Longman III Distinguished Scholar, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

“Rusty Meek’s Ecclesiastes and the Search for Meaning in an Upside-Down World invites us all to engage with this book from antiquity that speaks to the struggle of meaning-making in the complicated condition we find ourselves in today. His writing is intensely personal and creatively accessible, drawing us as readers into a deep encounter with the wisdom found in this book. Don’t pass up this opportunity to engage with this timely book.”

Mark J. Boda Professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College, Ontario, Canada

“Some commentaries are pastoral, others are exegetical. Russ Meek manages to be both, as well as personal, in this little book on Ecclesiastes. You’ll be heartened by hearing his story and strengthened in your faith as you come to terms with the message of Ecclesiastes, as told by this accomplished author and scholar.”

Jason K. Allen President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College