I'm intrigued by this verse in Ecclesiastes:

9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV

However, in analyzing any single verse, context is key. In the surrounding verses, the speaker (assumed to be Solomon) essentially says that "Everything is meaningless", "Everything returns back to where it came from", and "No one remembers the ancient times". Knowing this, can we say that Scripture will repeat itself until it is fully fulfilled due to the phrase "what has been will be again" and "what has been done will be done again"? Or is this verse talking about a more general sense of the phrase (like habits, wars, changes within history, etc.)?

  • Though history does repeat itself, that is not the context of Solomon meant when he wrote Ecclesiastes. :D
    – Philip
    Dec 9, 2018 at 1:55

3 Answers 3


At the time Ecclesiastes was written, Solomon was at the lowest point of his life spiritually. He was rich and powerful but furthest away from God because of such disobedience and decadence.

In the context of his long rant about how meaningless life is without God, he wasn't talking about history repeating itself. Solomon's observation was more about how a personal pursuit of a decandent life without God in the picture is - as he repeats in verse 2 - utterly worthless in the larger scheme of things. And anyone who pursues that path is doomed to experience nothing new in that aspect, as Solomon himself noted.

  • I agree this is a comment about the ever-constant human nature not political or national history. +1.
    – user25930
    Dec 7, 2018 at 5:42

It says before that that the generations come and go, but the earth abides forever. I am of the belief that there is a vast amount of time between Genesis 1:1 & 1:2 God does not give us the details of what transpired between that time. We just come to a place where the earth is desolate, empty and a wasteland in the Hebrew. It is entirely possible that God has had others on this earth before us, but we have no knowledge of it as it was wiped out. I also use this verse to show those in Judaism that many of the scriptures have a double or future fulfillment as the Author of the Word can see through all of time.

  • Your 'belief' is a matter of speculation and opinion - you offer no evidence for it.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 7, 2018 at 8:57


Indeed, the ever-constant human nature is being focused on here in Ecclesiastes.

It is the ever-constant human nature that repeats “under the sun” though. “Under the sun” is the important key phrase to understanding Ecclesiastes.

9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV

Solomon concluded that all of the works of man that are done “under the sun” are vanity and vexation of spirit.

They are earthly works of emptiness as all that is done “under the sun” are transitory and are a grasping after the wind and man continues to do the same things over and over again “under the sun” throughout history without really learning anything of true value by them.

There is truly nothing new “under the sun” as man goes about his meaningless life and doing the same meaningless works only to just die in the end.

Solomon sought out by wisdom all of the things that are done under the heaven that God has given to the sons of man to do. This “sore travail” given to the sons of man “exercises” them. The “exercise” has the meaning of to “depress, humble”. The meaningless things that God has given the sons of man to do “under the sun” humble them as no flesh may glory in His presence.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-14 KJV (12) I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. (13) And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. (14) I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

What is highly esteemed among men is “abomination” in the sight of God.

Luke 16:14-15 KJV (14) And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. (15) And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Again, what is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God…..and yet God has chosen those foolish things of the world to “confound”….that is in Greek (kataischunō)“to shame down”….the “wise” of this world. He humbles them as their flesh and glory fade away.

God has chosen the weak things (from God’s point of view….in the sight of God) of this world to shame down/humble/depress the things which are mighty and the base of things of this world and things which are despised (from God’s point of view) to bring those things which are now in this world to nothing.

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 KJV (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

He does this so that NO FLESH should glory in His presence….and we are all in His presence as mortal, flesh and bone men. No man can boast in his earthly "wisdom" or his earthly riches or his earthly position...for all of them wither away in the mortal flesh to the grave.

The rich of this world all perish. So do the “wise” of this world and the “mighty” and the “noble” in this earth. None of these meaningless things (yet highly esteemed among men) prevent man from dying “under the sun”. All of them are going to the grave and they can’t take any of those earthly things with them.

(29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

The “sun” rises upon all men as they go about doing their repeated, earthly things done in the earthly-mindedness of man of which we have all been born into.

The “sun” is the wrath of God that “rises” upon all men in order to humble him as all mortal flesh and all of man’s glory perish to the grave …and none of the meaningless earthly works can extend man’s life as he passes away.

But notice how the rich are allowed to “rejoice” in this. God is good to all men and leaves them witness in their meaningless lives that indeed He is good even though they do not acknowledge Him nor are thankful for His goodness shown toward them.

James 1:9-11 KJV (9) Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: (10) But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

The “sun” of God’s wrath upon men rises with a “burning heat” and withers the “grass” (all flesh of man is as the grass).

Man’s flesh and earthly glory fades away under the “burning heat” that arises and no worldly riches nor earthly wisdom nor high position in this life can stop the inevitable death that awaits all men. No flesh can glory in His presence as they fade away as they go about in this life doing their earthly works which do not truly profit them.

(11) For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

Yet, He lets all nations to walk in their own ways….

Acts 14:16-17 KJV (16) Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.

….and He does not leave Himself without witness in that He does good to people of this world and gives them rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness (even though they are all going to the grave).

He sends rain on the just and the unjust. They have the witness that God is good for He lets them enjoy their meaningless works done “under the sun”. No man can fault God for not doing good to mankind.

(17) Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

It is good for one to eat and to drink and to enjoy the good of all of his meaningless labor that he takes “under the sun” all of the days of his life which God has given him to do....to be "exercised" with. It is his portion in this life.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 KJV (18) Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.

God allows the rich man to rejoice in his meaningless riches and works and glory in this life….even though they all “fade away” to the grave. The rich man is allowed to rejoice in his being made low....humiliated...depressed.

(19) Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. (20) For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

But what profit is there really in doing these things “under the sun” of God’s wrath that arises upon all men which humiliates their flesh and causes their glory to fade away as they perish toward the grave?

Our God is a “consuming fire”….the “sun” of His wrath arises upon all men and withers the flesh and man’s glory fades away with it.

Yet, God leaves Himself witness to all men in that He does good to them (God is good…even to the unjust of this world) and allows earthly man to enjoy his own meaningless works.

Ecclesiastes 1:3-5 KJV (3) What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? (4) One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. (5) The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

The purpose: He turns man to destruction and says for man to “return” to Him….be reconciled to Him. He shows man mercy.

Psalms 90:3 KJV (3) Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

We are to understand the revealing and nature of His wrath that arises upon all men as all flourish “in the morning” of their lives but in the “evening” they are cut down and they wither away in the flesh to the grave.

Psalms 90:4-11 KJV (4) For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. (5) Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. (6) In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

Mankind is consumed by His anger (our God is a consuming fire….as the sun). In His wrath are we troubled as our sins are always before Him whether they are outwardly obvious or not.

(7) For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. (8) Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

All of our days are passed away in His wrath....

(9) For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. (10) The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. (11) Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

We are to remember the conclusion to the whole matter. This is the whole of man….body, soul and spirit: to fear God and keep His commandments.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV (13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

And this is His commandment: to believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and have love for one another as He gave us the commandment to do.

1 John 3:23-24 KJV (23) And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (24) And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

By doing this we abide in Him, the “sun” shall not then beat upon us any longer….nor any “heat”….as we find shelter from the “sun” of His wrath in Him. We then abide under the shadow of the Almighty (see Psalms chapter 91). We enter into His rest in this world being delivered from His wrath that arises upon all men.

Revelation 7:16-17 KJV (16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. (17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

The Lord Jesus Christ according to the will of God and our Father delivers us (plucks us out) from this present evil age where the “sun” of His wrath arises upon all men.

In this age, the wrath of God is revealed upon all men for their ungodliness and unrighteousness: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (see Romans 1:18). He delivers us from this present evil age as we enter into His rest under the shadow of the Almighty where no sun shall beat upon us nor the heat.

Galatians 1:3-5 KJV (3) Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, (4) Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (5) To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Yet, those who do not believe on the Son have the wrath of God abiding on them still. The world and its lusts are continually perishing away under the sun of His wrath as we speak for no earthly man can glory in his earthly wisdom, glory, riches, etc.

John 3:36 KJV (36) He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

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