Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End by David Gibson




What if it is death that teaches us how to truly live?

Keeping the end in mind shapes how we live our lives in the here and now. Living life backward means taking the one thing in our future that is certain―death―and letting that inform our journey before we get there.

Looking to the book of Ecclesiastes for wisdom, Living Life Backward was written to shake up our expectations and priorities for what it means to live “the good life.” Considering the reality of death helps us pay attention to our limitations as human beings and receive life as a wondrous gift from God―freeing us to live wisely, generously, and faithfully for God’s glory and the good of his world.


“The past two decades have witnessed quite a number of popular expositions of Ecclesiastes―and this one by David Gibson is the best of them. It follows the line of the book in a believable and compelling way. Its applications and reflections are cogent and telling, and the writing is characterized by grace and verve. Moreover, the questions found at the end of each chapter make this volume suitable for small-group Bible studies. Highly recommended.”
D. A. Carson, Cofounder and Theologian-at-Large, The Gospel Coalition

“David Gibson’s expositions of Ecclesiastes are like Ecclesiastes itself: sometimes shocking, often tantalizing, always refreshing. He deftly combines serious stuff with a light touch, clear style, and gospel relief. You will repeatedly run into ‘think-stoppers’; he will make new grooves in your grey matter that weren’t there before, and you will often admit, ‘I wish I’d have thought to put it like that!’ I think the writer of Ecclesiastes would be pleased with David’s work.”
Dale Ralph Davis, former pastor; Former Professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson

“If Ecclesiastes is a book for our times, then Living Life Backward is the book to unpack it. Beginning with the paradigm shift that embracing death is essential for life, I was intrigued from the start. Utterly counter to a modern worldview, the truths of Ecclesiastes are woven with ease into a narrative that rightly makes sense of why we are alive. Bold and beautiful in style, Living Life Backward promises to jolt the mind and shake us out of our complacencies. I couldn’t put it down!”
Fiona McDonald, Director of National Ministries, Scottish Bible Society

“Every reader of David Gibson’s steady and reverent progress through the book will reap reward, along with wonderfully enhanced understanding and rich insight into divine truth. Those who have benefited from David’s work in the foundational book From Heaven He Came and Sought Her will rush to enjoy the same values here of profound scholarship and covetable clarity of presentation.”
Alec Motyer, author; Bible expositor

“Only when you’re ready to die are you prepared to live. Sheer lunacy, isn’t it? Or is it actually the sanest thing you’ll ever hear? Engaging contemporary culture, David Gibson retells Ecclesiastes in all of its jarring dissonance with whatever we consider reasonable and normal. As it turns out, the wisdom of the world is silly and its will to power is impotent. I needed to read this―and so do you.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

“Too many view Ecclesiastes as merely the gloomy ruminations of a cynical pessimist. No wonder the book has fallen into neglect; we don’t need more of that today. But David Gibson blows away the dust and cobwebs by demonstrating that while Ecclesiastes is indeed skeptical about finding a meaningful and satisfying life without God, it’s also hopeful and optimistic about finding joy in an ordinary life with God as its center and aim. We can’t get enough of that today.”
David Murray, Senior Pastor, First Byron Christian Reformed Church

About the Author

David Gibson (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is minister of Trinity Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is a coeditor of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her and the author of Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End and Radically Whole: Gospel Healing for the Divided Heart. He is married to Angela, and they have four children.

Minister, Trinity Church, Aberdeen, Scotland; author, Living Life Backward; co-editor, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her