Futility of Secular Accomplishment
1:12 I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 1
1:13 I decided 2 to carefully 3 and thoroughly examine 4
all that has been accomplished on earth. 5
I concluded: 6 God has given people 7 a burdensome task 8
that keeps them 9 occupied. 10
1:14 I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man 11 on earth, 12
and I concluded: Everything 13 he has accomplished 14 is futile 15 – like chasing the wind! 16
1:15 What is bent 17 cannot be straightened, 18
and what is missing 19 cannot be supplied. 20
Futility of Secular Wisdom
1:16 I thought to myself, 21
“I have become much wiser 22 than any of my predecessors who ruled 23 over Jerusalem; 24
I 25 have acquired much wisdom and knowledge.” 26
1:17 So I decided 27 to discern the benefit of 28 wisdom and knowledge over 29 foolish behavior and ideas; 30
however, I concluded 31 that even 32 this endeavor 33 is like 34 trying to chase the wind! 35
1:18 For with great wisdom comes 36 great frustration;
whoever increases his 37 knowledge merely 38 increases his 39 heartache.
Futility of Self-Indulgent Pleasure I thought to myself, 40
“Come now, 41 I will try 42 self-indulgent pleasure 43 to see 44 if it is worthwhile.” 45
But I found 46 that it also is futile. 47
2:2 I said of partying, 48 “It is folly,”
and of self-indulgent pleasure, 49 “It accomplishes nothing!” 50
2:3 I thought deeply 51 about the effects of 52 indulging 53 myself 54 with wine
(all the while 55 my mind was guiding me 56 with wisdom) 57
and the effects of 58 behaving foolishly, 59
so that 60 I might discover what is profitable 61
for people 62 to do on earth 63 during the few days 64 of their lives.
Futility of Materialism
2:4 I increased my possessions: 65
I built houses for myself; 66
I planted vineyards for myself.
2:5 I designed 67 royal gardens 68 and parks 69 for myself,
and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
2:6 I constructed pools of water for myself,
to irrigate my grove 70 of flourishing trees.
2:7 I purchased male and female slaves,
and I owned slaves who were born in my house; 71
I also possessed more livestock – both herds and flocks –
than any of my predecessors in Jerusalem. 72
2:8 I also amassed silver and gold for myself,
as well as valuable treasures 73 taken from kingdoms and provinces. 74
I acquired male singers and female singers for myself,
and what gives a man sensual delight 75 – a harem of beautiful concubines! 76
2:9 So 77 I was far wealthier 78 than all my predecessors in Jerusalem,
yet I maintained my objectivity: 79
2:10 I did not restrain myself from getting whatever I wanted; 80
I did not deny myself anything that would bring me pleasure. 81
So all my accomplishments gave me joy; 82
this was my reward for all my effort. 83
2:11 Yet when I reflected on everything I had accomplished 84
and on all the effort that I had expended to accomplish it, 85
I concluded: 86 “All these 87 achievements and possessions 88 are ultimately 89 profitless 90 –
like chasing the wind!
There is nothing gained 91 from them 92 on earth.” 93
Wisdom is Better than Folly
2:12 Next, I decided to consider 94 wisdom, as well as foolish behavior and ideas. 95
For what more can the king’s successor do than what the king 96 has already done?
2:13 I realized that wisdom is preferable to folly, 97
just as light is preferable to darkness:
2:14 The wise man can see where he is going, 98 but the fool walks in darkness.
Yet I also realized that the same fate 99 happens to them both. 100
2:15 So I thought to myself, “The fate of the fool will happen even to me! 101
Then what did I gain by becoming so excessively 102 wise?” 103
So I lamented to myself, 104
“The benefits of wisdom 105 are ultimately 106 meaningless!”
2:16 For the wise man, like 107 the fool, will not be remembered for very long, 108
because 109 in the days to come, both will already have been forgotten. 110
Alas, 111 the wise man dies – just like 112 the fool!
2:17 So I loathed 113 life 114 because what
happens 115 on earth 116 seems awful to me;
for all the benefits of wisdom 117 are futile – like chasing the wind.
Futility of Being a Workaholic
2:18 So I loathed all the fruit of 118 my effort, 119
for which I worked so hard 120 on earth, 121
because 122 I must leave it 123 behind 124 in the hands of my successor. 125
2:19 Who knows if he will be a wise man or a fool?
Yet 126 he will be master over all the fruit of 127 my labor 128
for which I worked so wisely 129 on earth! 130
This also is futile!
2:20 So I began to despair 131 about all the fruit of 132 my labor 133
for which I worked so hard 134 on earth. 135
2:21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill;
however, he must hand over 136 the fruit of his labor 137 as an inheritance 138
to someone else who did not work for it.
This also is futile, and an awful injustice! 139
Painful Days and Restless Nights
2:22 What does a man acquire from all his labor
and from the anxiety that accompanies his toil on earth? 140
2:23 For all day long 141 his work produces pain and frustration, 142
and even at night his mind cannot relax! 143
This also is futile!
Enjoy Work and its Benefits
2:24 There is nothing better for 144 people 145 than 146 to eat and drink,
and to find enjoyment 147 in their 148 work.
I also perceived that this ability to find enjoyment 149 comes from God. 150
2:25 For no one 151 can eat and drink 152
or experience joy 153 apart from him. 154
2:26 For to the one who pleases him, 155 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy,
but to the sinner, he gives the task of amassing 156 wealth 157 –
only to give 158 it 159 to the one who pleases God.
This 160 task of the wicked 161 is futile – like chasing the wind!