Ecclesiastes 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. 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.
- *What did Solomon say about his pursuit of pleasure? (2:1-2)
- What sort of activities did Solomon find meaningless? (2:1-26)
- *How did Solomon try to cheer himself? (2:3)
- What projects did Solomon undertake? (2:4-8)
- *In what way did Solomon indulge himself? (2:10)
- What conclusion did Solomon reach when he considered all he had achieved? (2:11)
- To what did Solomon turn his thoughts? (2:12)
- What conclusion did Solomon reach about wisdom and folly? (2:12-14)
- What did Solomon say would be the fate of the fool and the wise person? (2:15-16)
- Why did Solomon hate life and all the things for which he had worked? (2:17-21)
- According to Solomon, what does a person get for all his or her strivings? (2:22-23)
- In what did Solomon say a person should find satisfaction? Why? (2:24)
- What do we require to find enjoyment? (2:24-25)
- What does God give? (2:26)
- *When does pleasure become meaningless or even harmful?
- With what sort of activities do people try to fill their life?
- *What sorts of distractions do you pursue to give your life meaning or significance?
- To what extent are the fates of the fool and the wise the same?
- Why did Solomon conclude that a person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his or her work?
- Why is it so hard to find satisfaction in our relationship with God?
- How should we please God with our life?
- In what way can you seek to please God with your life today?
- What is one thing you can do to find satisfaction in your work this week?
- *How do you need to reprioritize your commitment to pleasure in light of its unimportance?