Summary: This is a look at Ecclesiastes chapter two - verse by verse.
Ecclesiastes Chapter Two
Ecclesiastes 2:1 (NASB) I said to myself, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself." And behold, it too was futility.
Solomon conducted his search for life's meaning as an experiment. He first tried pursuing pleasure. He undertook great projects, bought slaves and herds and flocks, amassed wealth, acquired singers, added many concubines to his harem, and became the greatest person in Jerusalem. But none of these gave him satisfaction: "But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere" (Ecc_2:11). Some of the pleasures Solomon sought were wrong, and some were worthy; but even the worthy pursuits were futile when he pursued them as an end in themselves. We must look beyond our activities to the reasons we do them and the purpose they fulfill. Is your goal in life to search for meaning or to pursue God, who gives life meaning?
Ecclesiastes 2:2 (NASB) I said of laughter, "It is madness," and of pleasure, "What does it accomplish?"
If the pursuit of life is just to be happy all the time - what good is it? We can laugh and we can find pleasure - but what does that accomplish in the end? Are people remembered because they seemed happy all the time?
Ecclesiastes 2:3 (NASB) I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.
Solomon decided to drink wine - not to the point of drunkenness - but to point of effecting his body but not his mind. Will there be fulfillment in this? No!
Ecclesiastes 2:4 (NASB) I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself;
Maybe the work of my hands will bring fulfillment to life. He built houses - he planted vineyards - but all of this effort will not bring a satisfying life without God. The truth of the matter is that you can sit in a king's palace and still be miserable.
Ecclesiastes 2:5 (NASB) I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees;
Solomon thought that if he surrounded himself with pleasant things his heart would be pleasant also - but this is not the case. A heart made right by God can experience joy even living in a slum.
Ecclesiastes 2:6 (NASB) I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees.
I have found it pleasant sitting by pools of water or walking through the woods. In these things I can see God's hand. But if God is not acknowledged - is there any pleasure in these things?
Ecclesiastes 2:7 (NASB) I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem.
Here Solomon believes that possessions will satisfy his deepest longings. He increased the amount of slaves that he had - he increased the amount of herds and flocks that he had - but would he find fulfillment in them?
Ecclesiastes 2:8 (NASB) Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men--many concubines.
He also collected wealth and was provided with entertainment but would these fulfill his deepest longing.
Ecclesiastes 2:9 (NASB) Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me.
He became great in material things – but what of the things of God? Trapp has said, “Outward things are dead things, and cannot touch the soul.”
Notice that he says, “My wisdom also stood by me.” He does not say, “God’s wisdom stood by me.” It is foolishness to trust in your own wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 2:10 (NASB) All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor.
He had every means of gratification; he could desire nothing that was not within his reach; and whatever he wished, he took care to possess. But would all of this bring him true satisfaction?
Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NASB) Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.
I made a serious review of my former works and labors, and considered whether I had obtained that satisfaction in them which I had expected to find — I found myself disappointed, and wholly dissatisfied in this course. The pleasure was past, and I was never the better for it, but as empty as before.