Bible: Ecclesiastes 2


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!

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