February 13, 2024

Does God want us to have any fun?

Ecclesiastes 2

Will Johnson
Tuesday's Devo

February 13, 2024

Tuesday's Devo

February 13, 2024

Big Book Idea

God defines where true meaning is found.

Key Verse | Ecclesiastes 2:1

I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself." But behold, this also was vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2

The Vanity of Self-Indulgence

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 1 2:1 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a vapor or mere breath; also verses 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26 (see note on 1:2) I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, 2 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

The Vanity of Living Wisely

12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

The Vanity of Toil

18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that 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 be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment 3 2:24 Or and make his soul see good in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him 4 2:25 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts apart from me who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Footnotes

[1] 2:1 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26 (see note on 1:2)
[2] 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
[3] 2:24 Or and make his soul see good
[4] 2:25 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts apart from me
Table of Contents
Introduction to Ecclesiastes

Introduction to Ecclesiastes

Timeline

Author

The author of Ecclesiastes calls himself “the Preacher” (1:1). Some interpreters have concluded that this was Solomon, while others think he was a role-playing writer later than Solomon. Either way, the book claims that its wisdom comes from the “one Shepherd” (12:11), the Lord himself.

Theme and Interpretation of Ecclesiastes

The theme of Ecclesiastes is the necessity of fearing God in this fallen, confusing world. Each human being wants to understand all the ways God is acting in the world, but he cannot, because he is not God. And yet the faithful do not despair but cling to God, even when they cannot see what God is doing. The Lord deserves his people’s trust. They can leave everything to him while they seek to understand what it means to “fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13). This is true wisdom.

Key Themes

  1. The tragic reality of the fall. The Preacher is painfully aware that the creation has been damaged by sin (7:29; Rom. 8:20, 22). He speaks as one who eagerly awaits the resurrection age (Rom. 8:23).
  2. The “vanity” of life. The book begins and ends with the exclamation, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Eccles. 1:2; 12:8). The phrase pictures something fleeting and elusive. All the endeavors and pleasures of earthly life are only temporary. When one sees the consequences of sin in this fallen world, one is left in utter frustration, anger, and sorrow. The more one tries to understand life, the more mysterious it becomes (1:12–18).
  3. Sin and death. By sinning, human beings forfeited the righteousness they originally had before God (7:29), and thus all people are sinners (7:20). Death was a result of the fall. The Preacher is only too aware of this dreadful reality that affects everyone (e.g., 2:14–17; 3:18–21; 6:6).
  4. The joy and the frustration of work. God gave Adam work to accomplish prior to the fall, but part of the punishment of his sin was that his work would become difficult (Gen. 2:15; 3:17–19). Both realities are seen in the Preacher’s experience, as he finds his work to be both satisfying (Eccles. 2:10, 24; 3:22; 5:18–20; 9:9–10) and aggravating (2:18–23; 4:4–8).
  5. The grateful enjoyment of God’s good gifts. The Preacher spends a great deal of time commenting on the twisted realities of a fallen world, but this does not blind him to the beauty of God’s world (3:11). Nor does it cause him to despise God’s good gifts of human relationships, food, drink, and satisfying labor (5:18–20; 8:15; 9:7, 9). These are to be received humbly and enjoyed fully as blessings from God.
  6. The fear of God. The fact that “all is vanity” should drive people to take refuge in God, fearing and revering him (7:18; 8:12–13; 12:13–14).

Outline

  1. Introduction and Theme (1:1–3)
  2. First Catalog of “Vanities” (1:4–2:26)
  3. Poem: A Time for Everything (3:1–8)
  4. Fear God, the Sovereign One (3:9–15)
  5. Second Catalog of “Vanities” (3:16–4:16)
  6. Fear God, the Holy and Righteous One (5:1–7)
  7. Life “Under the Sun” (5:8–7:24)
  8. The Heart of the Problem: Sin (7:25–29)
  9. More on Life “Under the Sun” (8:1–12:7)
  10. Final Conclusion and Epilogue (12:8–14)
The Global Message of Ecclesiastes

The Global Message of Ecclesiastes

Life in a Broken World

The book of Ecclesiastes explains the world in all its complexity, confusion, and frustration with striking honesty. “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity,” declares the Preacher, echoing the cries of many who have seen, experienced, and recognized the dreadful fallenness of our world (Eccles. 1:2). The global reality both then and now is that our broken world is filled with oppression of the powerless (4:1), oppression of the poor (5:8), and violation of justice and righteousness (5:8). There is nothing new under the sun (1:9), no lasting earthly glory (1:11), no ultimately fulfilling pleasure (2:1–11), and no certainty in life except that it will end in death and judgment (2:14–16; 3:18–20; 6:6; 12:14).

In a fallen world there are many painful and complicated questions, but the message of Ecclesiastes is that there is an answer. That answer is not an easy one, but it is simple: fear the Lord (Eccles. 3:14; 5:7; 12:13–14). Though this world is filled with oppression and injustice, ultimately it will be well for those who fear God (8:12) and it will not be well for the wicked (8:13).

This world is filled with both blessings and challenges, neither of which provides ultimate answers or clarity about the meaning of life. If this world is all there is, then all is vanity. But when we trust the Lord in the face of circumstances that discourage us from doing so, we have a sure hope that we will one day be restored to him. Indeed, from a whole-Bible perspective, there is one who is the way (John 14:6), who is the comforter (2 Cor. 1:3), who is wisdom itself (1 Cor. 1:24). We will not easily figure God out, nor can we fathom all that he does (Eccles. 3:11). He is not a subject to be scrutinized or solved, nor are his ways easily comprehended (8:17). But God has spoken to us in his Son, who gives us the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

Purpose in Life and the Purpose of Life

The message of Ecclesiastes is that however difficult things may be because of the curse upon mankind in this fallen world, there is purpose and grace for all. There is enduring hope and satisfying life as we walk with God. The very gifts of God that, apart from God, prove hollow and disappointing, can be enjoyed truly and satisfyingly—not as the main purpose of life but as a means to know God in a deeper way. Our message to the world is that there is purpose in life regarding the blessings we receive from God such as food, drink, and work, but that these blessings are not the purpose of life.

Purpose in life. There is a proper place, time, and perspective for each season in life and for each blessing from God (Eccles. 3:1–8). The blessings of common grace are to be recognized as coming from the very hand of God. Work and its enjoyment are blessings from God (2:24; 3:22; 5:18–20). There is purpose in life for work, but neither work itself nor the hoarding of possessions are the purpose of life. When work becomes the governing purpose of life, when envy is our driving force, or when we seek satisfaction in wealth, we are left disappointed (2:18–23; 4:4). There is purpose in life for other gifts of common grace such as food, drink, and relationships (2:24–26; 3:12–13; 5:18–20; 8:15; 9:7, 9). The proper enjoyment of such gifts comes from God, who alone satisfies (3:13; 5:19).

The purpose of life. This then is the purpose of life: to fear God, who is sovereign (Eccles. 3:11, 14), holy in heaven (5:2, 7), and judge of all (12:13–14). He is the Giver of gifts and the one who grants even the ability to enjoy these gifts (5:19). In receiving such gifts of life we are to find our greatest joy in him (5:20).

The Global Church’s Mission to a Broken World

The book of Ecclesiastes provides a brutally honest and refreshing message for the global church to proclaim to the world. In one sense the Christian message is other-worldly, yet it also addresses the sober realities that face each society and every individual in every generation. The message of the gospel not only affirms the disappointments of life, it also offers the only true hope for meaningful living.

The Giver and the gifts. There is a Creator to be worshiped (Eccles. 12:1). He has made all things. Life is to be enjoyed as being from him and to him. The world must recognize the blessed common grace they have received in creation, life, work, and possessions. They should enjoy such blessings, but not as the purpose of life. The global church has a message of hope for a world that is “striving after wind” (1:14). Clinging to the gift rather than worshiping the Giver is meaningless. The wealthy are not to be envied, for they find neither ultimate satisfaction nor eternal security in their wealth (5:10–17). It is far better to enjoy fellowship with the Giver rather than simply enjoying his gifts, however good they may be.

The ultimate gift. Enjoyment of God is available ultimately because he sent his Son to die on behalf of sinners. There is none who is righteous before God (Eccles. 7:20). No one can escape death (2:16; 9:3, 12). God’s ways cannot be easily or fully fathomed (3:11), but he has indeed revealed himself clearly and gloriously in the person of his Son Jesus Christ (John 14:9). In the Son we have seen the one who both demonstrates and also empowers what it means to truly fear and enjoy God. There is grace abundant for all who recognize the vanity of their selfish living and remember and fear their Creator (Eccles. 12:1) and Redeemer (Isa. 54:5).

A sure hope. While Ecclesiastes sobers us with the reminder that this fallen world is filled with injustice, it also offers hope. Christians are to be active in seeking justice and encouraging the oppressed within society (Isa. 1:17). But we need not despair at the imperfect justice of this world because God will bring final and perfect justice one day (Eccles. 3:17). For the oppressed and the victims of injustice this is indeed good news. It is not vanity to fear and follow God (8:10–13). To those in the global church who suffer under persecution for the sake of the gospel there is the comfort that God does indeed see them, take care of them, and remember them.

A sovereign Lord. There is one who is in control. God is in control when times are good and when times are bad (Eccles. 7:14). We are not in control—which is a great blessing, despite the ways in which we often seek to control our lives. Our message to the world is to abandon striving after control and to embrace the one who is in control. Every building and work of art will one day turn to dust, but there is one who is eternal and whose works last forever (3:14). Our message to the world is to abandon the quest for self-glory and the accumulation of possessions and to embrace the blessed and wise God-centered life of sober hope.

This is the glorious Christian vision for life that the church must embrace and display for the world to see.

Ecclesiastes Fact #1: Ecclesiastes

Fact: Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes encourages God’s people to trust him in a fallen and often confusing world, in which sin and heartache touch every corner of the globe. We are to “fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13), even when we cannot understand everything that is going on around us.

Ecclesiastes Fact #2: Vanity, vanities, and vain

Fact: Vanity, vanities, and vain

The words vanity, vanities, and vain occur nearly 40 times in Ecclesiastes. Their literal meaning is “vapor” or “breath,” so they are used to describe things that can be fleeting or elusive, like the search for meaning and purpose in life.

Ecclesiastes Fact #5: “Eat, drink, and be merry”?

Fact: “Eat, drink, and be merry”?

“Eat, drink, and be merry”? Ecclesiastes advises those who serve God to enjoy his gifts of food, drink, comfort, married life, and honest work (9:7–9; compare 2:24–26; 3:13; 5:19–20).

Introduction to Ecclesiastes

Introduction to Ecclesiastes

Timeline

Author

The author of Ecclesiastes calls himself “the Preacher” (1:1). Some interpreters have concluded that this was Solomon, while others think he was a role-playing writer later than Solomon. Either way, the book claims that its wisdom comes from the “one Shepherd” (12:11), the Lord himself.

Theme and Interpretation of Ecclesiastes

The theme of Ecclesiastes is the necessity of fearing God in this fallen, confusing world. Each human being wants to understand all the ways God is acting in the world, but he cannot, because he is not God. And yet the faithful do not despair but cling to God, even when they cannot see what God is doing. The Lord deserves his people’s trust. They can leave everything to him while they seek to understand what it means to “fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13). This is true wisdom.

Key Themes

  1. The tragic reality of the fall. The Preacher is painfully aware that the creation has been damaged by sin (7:29; Rom. 8:20, 22). He speaks as one who eagerly awaits the resurrection age (Rom. 8:23).
  2. The “vanity” of life. The book begins and ends with the exclamation, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Eccles. 1:2; 12:8). The phrase pictures something fleeting and elusive. All the endeavors and pleasures of earthly life are only temporary. When one sees the consequences of sin in this fallen world, one is left in utter frustration, anger, and sorrow. The more one tries to understand life, the more mysterious it becomes (1:12–18).
  3. Sin and death. By sinning, human beings forfeited the righteousness they originally had before God (7:29), and thus all people are sinners (7:20). Death was a result of the fall. The Preacher is only too aware of this dreadful reality that affects everyone (e.g., 2:14–17; 3:18–21; 6:6).
  4. The joy and the frustration of work. God gave Adam work to accomplish prior to the fall, but part of the punishment of his sin was that his work would become difficult (Gen. 2:15; 3:17–19). Both realities are seen in the Preacher’s experience, as he finds his work to be both satisfying (Eccles. 2:10, 24; 3:22; 5:18–20; 9:9–10) and aggravating (2:18–23; 4:4–8).
  5. The grateful enjoyment of God’s good gifts. The Preacher spends a great deal of time commenting on the twisted realities of a fallen world, but this does not blind him to the beauty of God’s world (3:11). Nor does it cause him to despise God’s good gifts of human relationships, food, drink, and satisfying labor (5:18–20; 8:15; 9:7, 9). These are to be received humbly and enjoyed fully as blessings from God.
  6. The fear of God. The fact that “all is vanity” should drive people to take refuge in God, fearing and revering him (7:18; 8:12–13; 12:13–14).

Outline

  1. Introduction and Theme (1:1–3)
  2. First Catalog of “Vanities” (1:4–2:26)
  3. Poem: A Time for Everything (3:1–8)
  4. Fear God, the Sovereign One (3:9–15)
  5. Second Catalog of “Vanities” (3:16–4:16)
  6. Fear God, the Holy and Righteous One (5:1–7)
  7. Life “Under the Sun” (5:8–7:24)
  8. The Heart of the Problem: Sin (7:25–29)
  9. More on Life “Under the Sun” (8:1–12:7)
  10. Final Conclusion and Epilogue (12:8–14)
Study Notes

Eccles. 2:1–2 Pleasure here apparently refers to activities that can cause laughter.

Study Notes

Eccles. 2:3 The Preacher did not drink so much wine that he lost his ability to think clearly. On his attempt to lay hold on folly, see the note on 1:17.

Study Notes

Eccles. 2:10–11 The Preacher finally realizes that his work resulted in no permanent gain under the sun. Nevertheless, he did receive a reward in return for his work: the pleasure that the work itself gave him.

Study Notes

Eccles. 2:12 The Preacher’s reign as king surpassed all others. Anyone who comes after the king will at best only be able to copy what has already been done.

Study Notes

Eccles. 2:14–16 Wisdom is infinitely better than folly, but the wise and the foolish both die. To make matters still worse, even the wise are usually forgotten after their death.

Study Notes

Eccles. 2:17 The limitations of wisdom lead the Preacher to say that he hated life. Elsewhere he states that life is superior to death and commends its enjoyment, so this statement does not reflect utter despair. Rather, the Preacher “hates” life in the sense that he finds it deeply disappointing in certain ways.

Study Notes

Eccles. 2:18–20 I hated all my toil. While at times the Preacher found pleasure in his work, his enjoyment is severely lessened by the knowledge that he must eventually hand over his life’s work to someone else. This causes him to despair that his life’s work will not amount to anything significant.

Study Notes

Eccles. 1:4–2:26 First Catalog of “Vanities.” The Preacher gives specific examples to prove his belief that all is “vanity.”

Eccles. 2:24–26 If a person does not believe his work will have a lasting impact on the world, the best he can hope for is to find enjoyment in toil and in God’s simple gifts of food and drink. Such enjoyment is to be viewed as a gift from the hand of God.

S3:032 Ecclesiastes 2

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Dive Deeper | Ecclesiastes 2

I was tired of living in my perfectly good apartment, so I bought a house but wasn't satisfied. I didn't think I had enough knowledge, so I got my Master's but don't use it for its true purpose. I wanted to leave a legacy, so I worked long hours and got promoted three times in two years, but my boss always demanded more.

Does one version of this story ring true for you, too? Does God want us to enjoy life and have fun?

Of course, He does, but not in the way that we think. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 2:1, "I said in my heart, 'Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.' But behold, this also was vanity." Vanity is a commonly repeated word throughout Ecclesiastes, meaning "worthless." I had searched for pleasure in lots of things in my life—from drugs and alcohol, to women and relationships, to work and promotions, to TV shows and video games; and all these things brought me was a sense of never being satisfied. In Ecclesiastes 2, Solomon gives an account of his life and a warning on how we should live our lives for them to have true meaning.

Ecclesiastes 2:16 tells us, "For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!" Being wise and knowledgeable doesn't mean I won't ultimately come to the same exact fate in life as everyone else . . . death. We all die someday, but that doesn't mean we live empty, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied lives.

How do I achieve a life that is useful? Well, it's simple really, "for apart from [God] who can eat or who can have enjoyment?" (Ecclesiastes 2:25). With the free gift of the gospel and my salvation, I am no longer separated from God, and thus, by accepting Jesus as my Savior, I can truly have fun by living a life that ultimately glorifies the Lord. Want to join me?

This month's memory verse

Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

– Exodus 34:6b

Discussion Questions

1. What are the things in your life right now that always leave you wanting more, forever unsatisfied?

2. How do you feel about death? Does it concern you that nothing matters without God?

3. Do people understand your actions and what purpose they convey in your life?

4. Why does God want us to include Him in the fun we have?

5. Where do you want to have godly fun in your life? What do you need to do for it to happen?

Respond to Today's Passage

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HS

Hugh Stephenson

Ecclesiastes 2 in two parts- Part 1- One day when I was in high school, I walked into a class and the teacher told us to pull out a sheet of paper and pen. Then he talked for a few minutes about needs and wants. Then he told us to write down everything we needed or wanted in life. Everyone wrote for several minutes. Most wrote multiple pages of lists. When we stopped, he looked at us and spoke again of needs and wants. After a few minutes he told us to look at the list and see what we would add and to go ahead and add those things. Even though everyone had written everything they could think of we all started writing again! This was a real epiphany for me. I knew I would never have all the stuff: that I wanted. Also, I knew its happiness would be fleeting. (I didn’t stop me from trying though. A few years later I read a quotation attributed to Hemingway, “Take care that your possession don’t possess you. GULP! Randy Alcorn’s book HEAVEN, has helped me a lot. I especially love it on audiobook. In it he talks a great deal about the New Heaven and the New Earth. It was a huge blessing in helping me refocus my purpose. That’s what I’m waiting for now. Until then I pray to be fully deployed in the Army of God.
HS

Hugh Stephenson

There was a book a good while back called “When all you’ve ever wanted isn’t enough”. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote in back in 1986. Even an amateur Bible student like me can see the mile-wide holes in his argument. He strikes me as kind of a Jewish Dr Phil of Oprah frame. Maybe I’m not being fair. But I’m not a fan of pop culture solutions to very hard “meaning of life” questions. (Here’s Dr. Phil’s wiki entry - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_McGraw ) What I do think Kushner gets right is just asking the question. He even make several references to Ecclesiastes in the book. Here’s a link to the wikipedia entry - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_All_You%27ve_Ever_Wanted_Isn%27t_Enough A man who does get a great deal right is Viktor Frankl. He is a holocaust survivor who developed some profound answers to virtually unanswerable questions. His book is called “Man’s Search for Meaning”. Here his wiki - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Search_for_Meaning —————————————————— What did I want that “wasn’t enough”. In my re:gen inventory my main idol was “peace, comfort and security” or PCS. It came up so much I just started writing PCS in the fifth column. I had set goals for my life; personal, business, financial etc., (but not spiritual). I was certain that if I reached them I would have PCS. I reached them fairly early and found them lacking. My PCS was worldly. So rather than embracing the folly of my approach I raised the bar. More achievement, more toys, more stuff. This pattern repeated for 35 years until 2012 when God showed me that without Him everything I had in life was worthless. Truly my possessions were possessing me. Here’s a quotation from JP from serial years ago - “Meaning is not found under the sun, but under The Son.” Here’s a verse citation from yet another source- "Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life." (1 John 5:12). In the same source JP quotes CS Lewis- "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” Which leads me right into CS Lewis’s “muddies” “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ——————————————————————————————————————— As noted in several prior posts- It took me awhile to get to this realization but I got there in December of 2012. Re:generation and Prodigal came in February 2013. My new direction had begun. Since then, the eternity that He planted in my heart has drawn my focus toward Him day by day. The NLT translation has some awesome wisdom in the intro: "Ecclesiastes displays the dark philosophy of a person who looked for peace apart from God and in the end realized how futile that was. Only when people turn from this world to God will they find true happiness”.
GJ

greg jones

Good morning Will. Great deeper dive. This resonated with me today. ‘How do I achieve a life that is useful? Well, it's simple really, "for apart from [God] who can eat or who can have enjoyment?" (Ecclesiastes 2:25).’ Normally I would agree with you but if the next verse is truthful then according to it, you are wrong. “For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. [[[This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”]]] Ecclesiastes 2:26 Welcome to the book of Ecclesiastes. It just won’t say what we want it to say or think it should say. But because of that I don’t think the book of Ecclesiastes was written to be agreed with. It was written with the purpose of being continuous. The truth, or the meaning of, Ecclesiastes comes out when it is contended with. And this particular conclusion (v26b) in reference to v25 and v26a is originally intended to be contended with. Therefore I’m back in agreement with you…or we’re both wrong and it actually is vanity, a striving after wind. ************************************* If Ecclesiastes is a later post exilic book written to a king-less nation it makes sense that it would be allowable and encouraged to disagree with what the king had to say about a matter. An example of the history of the people to whom Ecclesiastes would have been written to 2 Kings 21:1-15. Verse 9, “But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel”. Manasseh one of the worst kings of Judah followed Hezekiah one of the greatest kings of Judah. As a people, according to their history, they don’t have a great track record of disagreeing with kings when they needed to. Now these people are living under the rule of foreign kings who worship foreign gods. So if you want to change the track record of the people who followed bad kings just as willfully as they followed good kings you might need a good piece of continuous wisdom writing, like Ecclesiasties.
SB

Sue Bohlin

Thanks so much, Will. Love how your story resonates so well with this chapter of Ecclesiastes. As I was reading, I was struck with what Solomon didn't have: the eternal perspective that Jesus brought into the light when He came from heaven and taught what we couldn't know without divine revelation. Trying to find joy "under the sun" (apart from God) really is futile. Inviting Him into our daily-ness, pursuing the things that will last forever--BOY does that make a difference. Solomon's experiments were all self-centered. When we seek to be faithful by living a life of faithfulness in the small things and the big things, we open the possibility of hearing, "Well done, good and faithful servant." He didn't hear that at the end of HIS life. But we can.
MS

Michael Scaman

Solomon the Lit teacher now reaches under his desk and puts on a top hat and stands in front of the class. He begins his lesson by tapping his baton on a student's desk: Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, take a look, As I Solomon, the teacher, opens up his book. In Ecclesiastes, chapter two, I make the classroom my stage, With a ring top hat, like a showman in his cage. Behind him, a parade of delights, slaves, and singers dancing . Where the cammels and treasure came prancing from nobody know. But soon his demeanor changes, a sorrowful blow. "I gave pleasure a try" he says, "Full disclosure. it's all in vain, Laughter, madness, what do we gain?" I built great works, houses, and vineyards galore, Gardens, parks, treasures, my wealth did soar. Yet in my heart, there was a recession, longing for more, All I found was vanity, nothing to adore. So I turned to wisdom, hoping for light, But even there, darkness lurked in the night. "What's the point?" he cried, in his despair, "All is vanity, life's just a snare." Yet amidst the toil, a glimmer of hope, To eat, to drink, to find joy, we cope. For from the hand of God, true pleasure springs, In wisdom, in joy, our hearts take wings. Solomon smiles a wise smile and class dismissed. Students walk out wondering where all this is going and leaving the greatest showman behind.
AL

Amy Lowther

1. Currently, I am satisfied with life. I have learned (with God) things begin and end and it’s ok. It helps increase value. I have also learned about myself, to know my limits and to know my value so I make good choices and feel good. 2. Death scares me. Nothing matters without God is good and true. 3. Usually this is true or we work through things and learn something new that is helpful. 4. God can help everyone identify and choose things so fun that is available can be enjoyed. 5. I want it everywhere and in everything. For this, I can pray to Him, listen to Him, and apply His ideas in daily life. Will - Thank you for sharing your ideas. You make a good point in saying, “With the free gift of the gospel and my salvation, I am no longer separated from God, and thus, by accepting Jesus as my Savior, I can truly have fun by living a life that ultimately glorifies the Lord”. Well said!