Summary: Solomon looked for pleasure in his achievements, his possessions and in his entertainment and yet finds it all to be empty and meaningless. Is there something wrong with seeking pleasure, or is there another problem?
OPEN: It was a 4th of July weekend and the family had gathered for a big meal together. In the kitchen was little 4 year old Johnny… and there on the edge of the cabinet sat the one thing he loved so much. It was a big, round, sure to be juicy, watermelon.
He just couldn’t stop staring at it.
But everyone told him to leave it alone. That Mom and Dad would cut it up later. It was explained that it would be too hard for him to lift it and that if he tried he would drop it and it might split open on the floor.
But sure that he understood the danger, everyone went on about their business.
That is, until there was a loud thump. And there it was… watermelon on the floor cracked right down the middle.
Everyone turned around and saw what had happened. You could sense the various feelings among the adults: disappointment, frustration, surprise, and anger.
But before anyone could do or say anything, the four-year-old looked up and said,
“Well, I never saw that happening.”
(Daily Heartlight for 06/24/2015 by Steve Ridgell)
Now why did that little boy do what he did?
He did what he did because he WANTED that watermelon, and he wanted that watermelon NOW. He couldn’t understand why the object of his affection should be denied him.
For that little boy that watermelon represented pleasure.
But when he attempted to take hold of the pleasure…everything fell apart.
And that’s what Solomon is telling us about here in Ecclesiastes.
He’s telling us that he sought to take hold of pleasure in his life. But when he did… everything fell apart.
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 (quickview) )
And then Solomon goes thru a whole litany of things that he’d done to find pleasure.
He tried to find pleasure in accomplishments:
He built houses and planted vineyards. He made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. And he made reservoirs to water all of his trees.
And he found that none of those accomplishments brought him pleasure.
And he tried to find pleasure in his possessions:
He had slaves. He owned herds and flocks. He hoarded silver and gold and all kinds of treasure.
But none of those possessions brought him pleasure.
He even tried wine, women and song (vs 3 and 8)
But that didn’t even work.
At the end of experimenting with in all those pursuits to seek pleasure, it’s almost as if Solomon sighed and said:
“… everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained...”
Now, it helps to know that these were not just errant musings by Solomon.
He actually has a purpose in telling us about the failure of pleasure to please.