We will now begin the second chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes.
2:1 “I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.”
- Pleasure cannot give you goodness and completeness, only God can. The only pleasure we have is God.
2:2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?”
- Laughter is something we should all do. But there are times when laughter is inappropriate. And we are fooling ourselves if we think otherwise because if so, then we have not come to the full reality of life itself. The question Solomon provides here is one we should often think about. Pleasure accomplishes nothing, without God.
2:3 “I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.”
- King Solomon expresses a little bit of a personal situation here. He was seeking what was good for man to do on this earth. But he soon came to realize that he was looking for the wrong things. Men don’t get pleasure under the heavens without God, only with God can “pleasure” be found.
2:4-6 “ I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.”
- Solomon tries to make himself happy by building things for himself. He had more money and more riches than anyone in Jerusalem, he used it for himself sometimes.
2:7-9 “I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.”
- Continuing on with the list of Solomon’s pleasures, he kept getting silver and gold, slaves, and flocks. All these things he had more of than anyone else. But God was not happy with these things as we see in 1 Kings 11:9 because he did them for himself and not for God.
2:10 “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.”
- Solomon says he kept himself from nothing he wanted. He had the money and the slaves to do whatever his heart desired. What he’s saying in the last part of this verse is that his reward for all he had done, was his delightfulness in what he had done.
2:11 “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
- Why was everything meaningless? He did it for himself. Nothing he did was for God as we discussed earlier. He realized all would vanish away anyways, so what was the point of it all.
2:12-16 “Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king’s successor do than what has already been done? I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness. The wise have eyes in their heads, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both. Then I said to myself, “The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?” I said to myself, “This too is meaningless.” For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten. Like the fool, the wise too must die!””
- Here Solomon starts to think about the mind and not so much the physical. He knew wisdom was better than folly on this earth. Wisdom will get you places. But, what was the fate he came to realize? It was that both the wise and the fool, will eventually die. Then he concluded that wisdom is meaningless because whether you are wise or foolish you will die. But that doesn’t mean we should be a fool because the result is the same either way, because it’s not. Yes we all die physically, but what about the next life, the eternal life? The decisions we make now impact that life, so make a wise decision.
2:17 “So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
- Everything is meaningless because just as people do, things pass away. As Solomon will later tell us, we have to leave things to other people when we die, we don’t get to take things with us.
2:18-19 “ I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.”
- This is a selfish saying here by King Solomon. Now he hates everything he did because someone else is going to take over. He has the mindset of “I made it, and therefore I deserve it”, which is common among most of us today. When we create something from our own hands, we should have full control over it. And we do, until we pass on from this life, then who has control? Whoever takes it up as theirs. That’s why Solomon is upset, because he realizes that we don’t keep things forever.
2:20-23 “So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.”
- Even if we work our hardest, with all of our knowledge we possess, we still leave to the ones who come after us. If we look at this from a physical perspective, there is no hope. There is no point for being on this earth, we’re all going to die as Solomon earlier pointed out. But this life will determine if you are going to live for eternity, or die spiritually. It’s up to you to make that choice.
2:24-26 “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
- Solomon finally starts seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. God has given us this life, and we must enjoy every part of it. We see that Solomon was being foolish. He was in despair because he did not put God in anything he thought about. All he could think of was dying and life itself being meaningless, well without God life is meaningless
This ends Chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes. And I want to end with this quote:
“You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”- Rick Warren