Ecclesiastes 2

True and lasting happiness and satisfaction consist not in mirth,
the gratifying of appetites, the spending of money or the getting of wisdom.
Only he who sets God always before him and employs himself for God may find heart rest in this world and that joy which He alone can give.

1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.

2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?

3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:

5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:

6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:

7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:

8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.

9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.

10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.

11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

12 ¶ And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.

13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

14 The wise man’s eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.

17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

18 ¶ Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.

20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.

21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?

23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.

24 ¶ There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?

26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-17, 24-26 – Vain Undertakings

   At the beginning of his search for happiness Solomon erected a splendid home and planned all kinds of delights of an artistic and sensuous nature. There were gardens, pools of crystal water, fruit trees, meadows filled with cattle, regal splendor, musicians who poured into the palace their sweet melodies. He went further, adding to architecture and art his intellectual pursuits. But when he had gone to the furthest limit, he turned from it all, with the old gnawing at his heart–Vanity of vanities
   A few days before the death of the great Cardinal Mazarin, he was heard by a friend to utter something of the same sad refrain. “I was walking,” says this friend, “in one of the apartments of the palace, when I recognized the approach of the Cardinal by the sound of his slippered feet, which he dragged one after the other as a man suffering from a mortal malady. I concealed myself behind the tapestry and heard him say, as he looked at one picture and rare treasure after another, ‘I must leave all these.’” Let us, in the light of these things, ponder again those words of Christ in Luke 12:33. —Through the Bible Day by Day

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3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto ________, yet acquainting mine heart with ____________; and to lay hold on __________, till I might see what was that ________ for the sons of men, which they should do under the ____________ all the days of their life.

4 I made me great __________; I builded me ____________; I planted me __________________:

17 Therefore I __________ life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is ________________ unto me: for all is ____________ and vexation of spirit.

Ecclesiastes 2:23—All his days are sorrows, and his travail grief.

   What a glimpse this is into a heart that has put God out! Solomon’s power turned away his heart, so that he was not perfect with God, as David, his father. He drifted from God; and plunged into pleasure and laughter; into building and planting; into the pursuit of science and learning. “Whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them… for all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecclesiastes 2:11, 17). Nothing can satisfy us but God. We were made for Him; and the heart, as Augustine says, must be for ever restless till it finds rest in Him. Thus the shell, brought home from the sea-shore and placed on the shelf, sighs each time you place it to your ear for the ocean whence it came.
   We have no need to envy those who prosper in this world, but are without God, and without hope. Their days are sorrows, and their travail is grief, and at night their hearts take no rest. But if we are to avoid their inward anguish, we must avoid their fatal mistake, and learn to take God into our lives. The river of life, which is the Holy Spirit, flows at our feet; but we must stoop to take it freely.
   Dr. Gordon records the story of a traveller in Barbary, who saw a beautiful clear spring of water, over which was inscribed the legend; “Drink, and be gone.” Robbers infested the region, and were constantly on the track of the traveller, ready to waylay and rob him. Therefore he must snatch the cooling draught and hasten on. Shall we refuse ourselves all pleasure in this world? Shall we write Touch not on every innocent gratification? No; but as soon as we have tasted of the pleasant draught, and lingered long enough to refresh our jaded souls, to hasten to life’s serious tasks. —Our Daily Homily