OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To note the degree to which the Preacher sought for meaning in life under the sun 2) To consider his estimation of mirth, pleasure, wine, wisdom, folly and wealth in providing purpose for living 3) To appreciate his conclusion for what is best in life, and the One who makes it possible SUMMARY In this chapter the Preacher describes the extent of his search for the meaning of life "under the sun." He explored mirth and pleasure, finding them to be vanity. He experimented with wine and folly, while guiding himself with his wisdom. Not withholding anything his eyes desired, he used his great wealth to build and accumulate everything his heart wanted. He certainly enjoyed himself while doing it (1-10). Yet when the Preacher looked back on all he had done, he found it to be vanity and grasping for the wind. Reflecting upon the comparative value of wisdom and folly, he did find wisdom to excel folly. But he also observed that death came to both the wise and the fool, and both soon forgotten. This prompted him to hate life. Even his accumulated wealth provided little respite, for he must leave it to one who may prove to be a fool. Thus he found such efforts to be grievous, leading one to sorrowful days and restless nights (11-23). He concludes it is best to eat and drink, enjoying what good there is in one's labor. He realized, however, that the ability to truly enjoy life is a gift from God. He saw that God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to a man who is good in His sight. To the sinner, God might give the ability to gather and collect great wealth, but it eventually winds up in the hands of him who is good before God. Thus much labor without God's blessing is truly vanity and grasping for the wind (24-26). OUTLINE I. THE PREACHER'S SEARCH FOR MEANING (2:1-10) A. A SUMMARY OF HIS SEARCH (1-2) 1. He tested mirth and pleasure, and found them to be vanity 2. He found laughter to be madness, and mirth to accomplish little B. A DESCRIPTION OF HIS SEARCH (3-10) 1. He experimented with wine and folly a. While guiding himself with wisdom b. Seeking to find what is good for men to do "under heaven all the days of their lives" 2. He made many things a. Houses and vineyards b. Gardens and orchards c. Water pools to water fruit trees 3. He acquired whatever he wanted a. Male and female servants, with more born in his house b. Herds and flocks, more than any in Jerusalem before him c. Silver, gold, special treasures of kings and provinces d. Male and female singers, musical instruments of all kinds 4. He became great, and seemingly happy a. Greater than all in Jerusalem before him b. Having all his eyes desired, his heart rejoicing in his labor II. THE PREACHER'S REFLECTION UPON HIS SEARCH (2:11-23) A. REFLECTING UPON HIS LABOR (11) 1. Looking back on all his works and labor 2. Find them to be vanity, grasping for wind 3. Concluding there was no profit under the sun B. REFLECTING UPON WISDOM, MADNESS, AND FOLLY (12-17) 1. He considered the relative value of wisdom, madness, and folly 2. He found that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness 3. Yet the same end (death) befalls the wise and the fool, and both are soon forgotten 4. Prompting him to hate life for its vanity and grasping for the wind C. REFLECTING UPON HIS WEALTH (18-23) 1. He came to hate his labor and toil under the sun a. Because he must leave it to one after him b. Not knowing whether those who inherit it will be wise or foolish 2. He came to despair his labor under the sun a. For despite one's wisdom, knowledge and skill, one's heritage must be left to one who has not labored for it b. This he concluded was vanity and a great evil c. In the end, all one had as a result of his labor and the striving of his heart: 1) Sorrowful days, restless nights 2) Grievous works, leading to vanity III. THE PREACHER'S CONCLUSION FROM HIS SEARCH (24-26) A. MAN SHOULD ENJOY THE GOOD IN HIS LABOR (24a) 1. There is nothing better 2. Than to eat, drink, and to enjoy good in one's labor B. THE ABILITY TO ENJOY IS A GIFT FROM GOD (24b-26) 1. He saw that this was a gift from God 2. For no one can truly enjoy life without God (cf. footnote, NIV, NASB) a. To those good in His sight, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy b. To the sinner, God gives the work of gathering and collecting 1) To give to the one who is good before God 2) For the sinner, his work becomes vanity and grasping for the wind REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The Preacher's search for meaning (1-10) - The Preacher's reflection upon his search (11-23) - The Preacher's conclusion from his search (24-26) 2) In his search, what sort of things did the Preacher explore? (1-3) - Mirth and pleasure - Wine and folly 3) What guided his heart during the course of his search? (3) - Wisdom (perhaps that given the Preacher by God?) 4) What things did he accumulate during his search? (4-8) - Houses and vineyards - Gardens and orchards - Fruit trees and water pools to water them - Male and female servants, along with servants born in his house - Herds and flocks - Silver, gold, special treasures - Male and female singers, musical instruments of all kinds 5) How great did he become? What stayed with him? (9) - Greater than all who were in Jerusalem before him - His wisdom 6) What did he get? (10) - Whatever his eyes desired, any pleasure his heart wanted 7) What was his reaction to this great accumulation of wealth? (10-11) - He rejoiced in his labor - But looking back on his works, he found them vanity and grasping for wind, with no profit under the sun 8) What conclusions were drawn about the value of wisdom and folly? (12-16) - Wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness - Yet death comes to them both, and they are soon forgotten 9) What did this reflection lead him to do? Why? (17) - Hate life - Because all work under the sun was grievous, vanity, and grasping for wind 10) What else caused him to hate his labor? (18) - The thought that he must leave it to one who comes after him 11) Why did this trouble him? (19-21) - For the one who receives his inheritance gained through wisdom, knowledge and skill might prove to be a fool 12) What did he conclude was the result of one's labor, striving, and toil for things under the sun? (22-23) - Sorrowful days, restless nights - Grievous work, leading to vanity 13) What did he say was the best man could achieve? (24) - To eat and drink, and enjoy good in his labor 14) But who was capable of achieving this? (24-26) - The one who was good in God's sight, to whom God gave wisdom, knowledge, and joy 15) What did the sinner receive? For what purpose? (26) - The task of gathering and collecting - To give to him who was good before God
The vanity of pleasure
[Ecc 2:1-26 NKJV] 1 I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure"; but surely, this also [was] vanity. 2 I said of laughter--"Madness!"; and of mirth, "What does it accomplish?" 3 I searched in my heart [how] to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what [was] good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives. 4 I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all [kinds] of fruit trees in them. 6 I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. 7 I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, [and] musical instruments of all kinds. 9 So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all [was] vanity and grasping for the wind. [There was] no profit under the sun.
The end of the wise and the fool
12 Then I turned myself to consider wisdom and madness and folly; For what [can] the man [do] who succeeds the king?--[Only] what he has already done. 13 Then I saw that wisdom excels folly As light excels darkness. 14 The wise man's eyes [are] in his head, But the fool walks in darkness. Yet I myself perceived That the same event happens to them all. 15 So I said in my heart, "As it happens to the fool, It also happens to me, And why was I then more wise?" Then I said in my heart, "This also [is] vanity." 16 For [there is] no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now [is] will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise [man] die? As the fool! 17 Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun [was] distressing to me, for all [is] vanity and grasping for the wind. 18 Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also [is] vanity. 20 Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun. 21 For there is a man whose labor [is] with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also [is] vanity and a great evil. 22 For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun? 23 For all his days [are] sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity. 24 Nothing [is] better for a man [than] that he should eat and drink, and [that] his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? 26 For [God] gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who [is] good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to [him who is] good before God. This also [is] vanity and grasping for the wind.