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