Pleasures Are Meaningless
1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with
mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is
2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth
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
4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me
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.
Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless
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
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
Toil Is Meaningless
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
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
25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more
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.1
Solomon, having made trial of natural wisdom and knowledge
in its utmost extent, and found it to be vanity, proceeds to
the experiment of pleasure, and tries whether any happiness
was in that, Ecclesiastes 2:1. As for that which at first
sight was vain, frothy, and frolicsome, he dispatches at
once, and condemns it as mad and unprofitable, Ecclesiastes
2:2; but as for those pleasures which were more manly,
rational, and lawful, he dwells upon them, and gives a
particular enumeration of them, as what he had made full
trial of; as good eating and drinking, in a moderate way,
without abuse; fine and spacious buildings; delightful
vineyards, gardens, and orchards; parks, forests, and
enclosures; fish pools, and fountains of water; a large
retinue, and equipage of servants; great possessions,
immense riches and treasure; a collection of the greatest
rarities, and curiosities in nature; all kinds of music,
vocal and instrumental, Ecclesiastes 2:3; in all which he
exceeded any that went before him; nor did he deny himself
of any pleasure, in a lawful way, that could possibly be
enjoyed, Ecclesiastes 2:9. And yet on a survey of the whole,
and after a thorough experience of what could be found
herein, he pronounces all vanity and vexation of spirit,
Ecclesiastes 2:11; and returns again to his former subject,
wisdom; and looks that over again, to see if he could find
real happiness in it, being sadly disappointed in that of
pleasure, Ecclesiastes 2:12. He indeed commends wisdom, and
prefers it to folly, and a wise man to a fool; Ecclesiastes
2:13; and yet observes some things which lessen its value;
and shows there is no happiness in it, the same events
befalling a wise man and a fool; both alike forgotten, and
die in like manner, Ecclesiastes 2:15. And then he takes
into consideration business of life, and a laborious
industry to obtain wealth; and this he condemns as grievous,
hateful, and vexatious, because, after all a man's
acquisitions, he knows not to whom he shall leave them,
whether to a wise man or a fool, Ecclesiastes 2:17. And
because a man himself has no rest all his days, nothing but
sorrow and grief, Ecclesiastes 2:22; wherefore he concludes
it is best for a man to enjoy the good things of this life
himself; which he confirms by his own experience, and by an,
antithesis between a good man and a wicked one, Ecclesiastes
References and notes
1. King James Authorized Version
2. John Gill's Exposition of the Bible - http://eword.gospelcom.net/comments/ecclesiastes/gill/ecclesiastes2.htm
3. Matthew Henry Bible Commentary Complete - http://eword.gospelcom.net/comments/ecclesiastes/mh/ecclesiastes2.htm