Ecclesiastes 2—Is this all there is to life?

Ecclesiastes 2

Ecclesiastes 2:1–10, Come now. The Preacher, King Solomon, looked for a meaning and purpose to life in all of the usual ways that humans indulge themselves: mirth, pleasure or goodness (i.e. being a good person), laughter (merriment, comedy, fun entertainment), hedonism (fulfilling the sensual pleasures of the flesh), alcohol (or mind altering chemical substances), vast building projects including  constructing houses, and exquisite gardens, procuring servants, along with the acquisition of herds of livestock, precious metals, special treasures gathered from around the world, and other great possessions. He also surrounded himself with gifted people to provide musical entertainment. While indulging himself in all of these, he kept his wits about him, so that through it all and afterwards, he could critically analyze the merits and demerits of it all.

Ecclesiastes 2:11, Vanity…grasping for the wind. No matter what grandiose adventures in life the Preacher pursued, regardless of his vast array of accomplishments, and his endless pursuit of satiating the lust of the flesh and its endless craving for pleasure, he found that it all leads to the same place: emptiness and nothingness—a grasping at the elusive wind, or like trying to scratch an itch that will not go away, or to satisfy and unquenchable thirst. He had eaten of all of the finest delicacies that life had to offer until he was gorged, yet he was still hungry. How maddeningly confusing and frustrating to indulge oneself with all these things and still come up empty handed. This is what most people spend their lives doing, yet they never figure out that in the end it leads nowhere—that the answer to the inner longings are not to be found in this physical existence. Rather, the answer is outside of it. He must look up! This is the message cryptic message of Ecclesiastes—of the whole Bible.

Ecclesiastes 2:12, Who succeeds the king. After having achieved and experienced more than any king before him, he asked himself, “What now?” What more can my son after me do that I have not already done? Is there an end to this madness? Does it lead anywhere, or ultimately accomplish anything of lasting value?

Ecclesiastes 2:13–16, Wisdom excels folly. The Preacher concludes that ignorance or folly (or foolishness) is not better then wisdom (or intelligence), even as darkness is not preferable to light. It is better to possess wisdom and intelligence than to go ignorantly and foolishly through life. Yet whether one is foolish or wise, all humans still end up in the same place at the end—dead. So again what is the point of it all? Whether wise or foolish, it all amounts to vanity or emptiness and nothingness—to a big zero—at the end. Therefore, the Preacher concludes, a wise man and a fool are equal in status. Even the wise man dies a fool, for he has not perceived that life is eventually meaningless and pointless (when this physical existence is all there is to hope for).

Ecclesiastes 2:17–23, Must leave it. What is the point of working hard, slaving away and heaping up wealth only to leave it all to someone else after one passes from the scene? It is unlikely that one’s heir will appreciate the tireless effort their parent spent building their estate, and will likely foolishly squander it all away. So what is the point of it all? There is none. So why kill oneself heaping up wealth and accomplishments? You cannot take it all with you. (None of this makes any sense, unless there is a higher purpose to it all beyond this physical existence—a supreme purpose which is revealed elsewhere in the pages of the Bible. The problem is that most people are too busy slaving away on the hamster wheel of life going nowhere, while satiating human ego and accumulating material stuff that they have little time to stop for even a moment to consider the deeper issues of life. This too is foolishness, vanity or emptiness and chasing the wind, since it all leads to the same place—death.)

Ecclesiastes 2:24–26, Nothing is better. If the only hope that a person has in their life is this life, then there is nothing better than to work hard, enjoy the fruits of one’s labors, cherish the simple things of life such as a job well done, and good food and drink, which are blessings from Elohim. The Creator has blessed each of us with the ability to find a certain measure of happiness and contentment in the work of one’s hands and enjoying the fruits of one’s hard work. In the process of it all, if one attempts to be a “good” person and to do right by others, then his earthly reward for good behavior, while a prisoner on this earth to the cosmic machine called time and space, will not be taken away. To be sure, this is a gift from heaven. But in the end, even though a person may find a certain amount of physical happiness, the end results are still the same: vanity or empty nothingness and grasping at the wind. One still dies without escaping the endless, cyclical treadmill of this physical existence of the time-space continuum in which man finds himself trapped. 


2 thoughts on “Ecclesiastes 2—Is this all there is to life?

  1. The world, the flesh and the devil are certainly nothing more than vanity. Another good article.
    Thank you, John

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