Joy At The End of The Tether: The Inscrutable Wisdom of Ecclesiastes
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Joy At The End of The Tether: The Inscrutable Wisdom of Ecclesiastes

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  175 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Most Christians view the book of Ecclesiastes as an enigma, a puzzle from which we might draw a few aphorisms but little else. Douglas Wilson's fresh, lucid treatment of this wonderful book, enables us to see that its message is not a confused riddle but an incisive indictment of "the wisdom of this world." We learn that what we can "modernity" is simply a term for men sin...more
Paperback, 125 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Canon Press
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I picked up this book again after about ten years and found that I loved it more now than I did then. This life is vapor, full of endless repetition. And for those who receive it as the gift of God, joy is found in the midst of it all. If ever a book was suited to tired moms who are feeling that all these dishes and diaper changes are sucking the meaning out of life, then Ecclesiastes is it. Of the making of PB&Js there is no end, and much potty training wearies the flesh. Solomon knows the...more
Leandro Guimarães Faria Corcete DUTRA
Very concise, but very compelling, interpretation.
Gwen Burrow
I always wanted Ecclesiastes to be a happy book, so I'm glad to discover that it is. I like knowing that Solomon didn't die as bad as he sometimes lived, and that "God gives to a wise man the gift of watching, with a pious and grateful chuckle, one damn thing after another."
Excellent book - I also enjoyed Jeffrey Meyers book on Ecclesiastes as well. Meyers has a somewhat better book but Wilson writes much clearer. Read both they are excellent books!
M.G. Bianco
A commentary of sorts on the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. The full title of Wilson's little book is Joy at the End of the Tether: the Inscrutable Wisdom of Ecclesiastes.

The overall perspective Wilson reveals of Ecclesiastes is this.

The term 'vanity' is not to be defined as absolute meaninglessness, but rather to "inscrutable repetitiveness".

He then divides the book up into sections:

1. Satisfaction cannot come from anything within man's power. (Ecc 1.1-2.26)
2. God is sovereign over everything, and ob...more
Wilson does an excellent job of following the line of Solomon's argument in Ecclesiastes. He proves that the book is not nihilistic, negative, or hopeless. He conveys the wisdom of the book, of Solomon, and of finding joy in the vanity of life.
I wish that Wilson's writing was a little clearer at times. Some of his explanations were a little confusing and blurry for me. I enjoyed his sense of humor, but sometimes, he went a little too far with his points, seemingly trying to justify his own vices...more
Short practical application and overview commentary

A few of his quippy sentences unlocked so many helpful thoughts in my study of the book.
"Ecc. calls us to joy, but to a joy which thinks, a joy which does not shrink back from the hard questions He calls us to meditation...which does not despair...shutting of every avenue of escape, only [those with faith in God alone] can enjoy the vanity which surrounds us on every side."
"The term 'vanity' is not to be defined as absolute meaninglessness, but...more
A commentary on Ecclesiastes. The major ideas being: 1. There is no satisfaction coming from man. 2. God is sovereign. 3. It is God who GIVES us the ability to enjoy things (in the midst of the vanity). 4. Obstacles, discouragements and incongruities are addressed and should not diminish joy. 5. We must work hard and sensibly and prepare for old age and eternity.
I enjoyed his subdivisions and observations about them. I was disappointed he did not develop some ideas further. Life is mysterious....more
Dan Glover
This was a great little study on Ecclesiates. Books don't get much more practical that this. And considering all the strivings of postmoderns to find pleasure because meaning is fleeting or non-existent (they say), Ecclesiates is a powerful corrective for our times. I especially liked the chapter on chapter 3, dealing with the sovereignty of God on all the "seasons" of our lives. Mourning and tears are ordained, not a possible response to events, and they are proper in their season. This book st...more
"Vanity does not refer to an absolute meaninglessness, but to an inscrutable repetetiveness. You washed the dishes last night and there they are again. You changed the oil in your car three months ago, and now you are doing it again. All is vanity. This shirt was clean yesterday...Every morning folly comes up over the horizon. Again. Morning, sunshine. Time to put the coffee on. Again. To be wise, a man must know his limitations. A wise believer is a man who knows the length of his tether. Only...more
Victor Chininin
I was struggling particularly this time reading through Ecclesiastes. I have been going through a season of discouragement. I read chapters 1-11, and I wasn't really paying attention. So I remembered that I had this book, and I started going back through Ecclesiastes with Wilson as a guide. I was thankful for the encouragement to think harder to follow Solomon's argument to its conclusion of fearing God who gives us enjoyment as a gift, He who is the righteous judge of all. Not a heavy read, but...more
This is my second time through this book; I picked it up because I'm leading a Bible study on contentment and the first week's lesson is focused on Ecclesiastes, the subject of this book. I really enjoyed Wilson's commentary on this book, esp. the clarity of the themes "God is in control" and "Enjoying this earthly life is a gift from God". His metaphor of everyone getting a can of peaches, but only believers also getting a can opener, is one that will stay with me.
Caleb Ripple
With the help of this wonderful, little expository book, Ecclesiastes has become one of my most enjoyable books of the Bible. Doug Wilson meticulously unpacks the scriptures and helped to shed some light on how to read and understand Solomon in the light of the whole counsel of the Word of God, even when it Solomon is seemingly contradictory or hard to grasp.

For anyone who is wanting to study through Ecclesiastes I highly recommend this book to you!
Mar 02, 2010 John rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
Ecclesiastes is the "meaning of life" book in the Bible--dealing with the philosophical questions that every person ponders at some point in their life. In Joy at the End of the Tether, Wilson comments on each passage, helping to make sense of what many believe to be almost a nihilistic book. Wilson denies this, and argues that Solomon's argument is biblically sound and wise. I concur--this was a very helpful book.
Not that I've read many commentaries, but this seemed to be a good one on Ecclesiastes that dealt really well with what "vanity" actually means (not some sort of postmodern existential nihilism) and how the believer's response to all the vanity under the sun should be to throw our arms up in joy and enjoy the ride, because the only way we can enjoy anything is by God's gift.
There truly is joy living within the boundaries of our freedom. Release from legalism is one side of the coin in enjoying God's gifts to us. The other side is learning to love others, including the weaker among us, by living within the law of Christ.

This is a wonderful read for how to live a life of joy, while living within the body of Christ.
As always, Wilson does not fail to satisfy in his exegesis and presentation of difficult texts and hard-edged truths. I believe this is some of his finest work, and if you've been exposed to much of Wilson's writing and preaching, that's saying a lot. Very well done, my favorite short treatment of Ecclesiastes by anyone to date.
Paul Lawrence
It is tempting to suggest to anyone asking "is that all there is" or "what does it all mean" that they should read through this short book, but in reality everyone should read this book.

An excellent job by the author is showing what Ecclesiastes teaches us about life and what it means to live in this vain existence
Jul 08, 2012 Jo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: re-read
I listened to the audio of this book and took notes, now I can't wait until my real copy arrives to underline and write thoughts. Loving the gifts of God in the vanity of this life - a truth that needs telling. A solid commentary of finding joy in the mire of life.
I do not agree with everything Doug Wilson writes, by far... but this book on Ecclesiastes was very well written, easy to follow, easy to understand, and well put together. I read it many years ago and still pull it out from time to time!
This was a refreshing and helpful commentary on Ecclesiastes. Classic Wilson. As you would expect, not so much technical work, but some excellent exposition along with some interesting homiletical ideas and devices. A delight to read, in a day.
Jason Farley
This was my third time reading this commentary. It is not exactly a traditional commentary. It is more application than your average commentary, but it packs an unexpected punch for the size. wonderfully helpful and encouraging.

Anna and I enjoyed reading this along with Ecclesiastes together. it was great book because it is a great book and you should read this book because it is a wonderful, yea, even a great book ;)
One of the most insightful books on Ecclesiastes. I have probably read it 3-4 times. As Ecclesiastes is the book I turn to most and is my favorite I cannot help myself.

I heartily recommend this to all.
Robert Tiess
Very thought-provoking. One star deducted for the author's odd periodic asides and stances on some issues.

Ecclesiastes is always a fascinating and meditative text.

My favorite book by Pastor Wilson. Ecclesiastes is a book to live by, and Douglas Wilson helps make that clear.

Also read in Spring of 2008, Fall of 2010
Jun 18, 2010 Trish rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
God is God and we are not. Fear God and obey His commandments.

Read this book once or twice a year and find joy at the end of the tether.
Natalie S.
Excellent work on Ecclesiastes - highly recommend to anyone wondering whether to laugh or cry and the futility of life.
Not everyone will like this book, but I enjoyed it. A great look at how God's sovereignty matters all the time. And thankfulness.
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I write in order to make the little voices in my head go away. Thus far it hasn't worked.
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