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Ecclesiastes Two

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?

of laughter, It is mad. The modern addiction to “comedy” and amusements of various kinds was tried by Solomon long ago, and was found to be “mad,” producing nothing of value. There is no New Testament record of Jesus or the apostles either laughing or inducing laughter in others by humorous preaching. Instead, Jesus said: “Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep” (Luke 6:25). And the Apostle James wrote: “Let your laughter be turned to mourning” (James 4:9).

Ecclesiastes 2:3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.

Ecclesiastes 2:4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:

Ecclesiastes 2:5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:

Ecclesiastes 2:6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:

Ecclesiastes 2:7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:

Ecclesiastes 2:8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.

Ecclesiastes 2:9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.

before me in Jerusalem. Assuming that Solomon was the author of Ecclesiastes (note Ecclesiastes 1:1), then there had been only one king in Jerusalem before Solomon. David had taken Jerusalem from the Jebusites, so only David and his other sons (especially Absalom) could have accumulated wealth on a large scale. In any case, Solomon found that wealth and all it could purchase were completely unsatisfying in themselves. The New Testament also warns frequently of the deceptive allure of riches (1 Timothy 6:10, 17; James 5:1-3; etc.).

Ecclesiastes 2:10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.

Ecclesiastes 2:13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.

Ecclesiastes 2:14 The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 2:15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.

Ecclesiastes 2:17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

vexation of spirit. This picturesque phrase occurs nine times in Ecclesiastes and only once elsewhere (Isaiah 65:14). When anyone finds, as did Solomon, that most of what he has devoted his life to is mere vanity, it will surely produce “vexation of spirit.”

Ecclesiastes 2:18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

Ecclesiastes 2:19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.

Ecclesiastes 2:22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 2:23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

good in his labour. This obviously is the natural viewpoint of people whose lives are centered “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). In fact, such a viewpoint would have been appropriate in the world as originally created by God. He did provide abundant wholesome food and drink for all His creatures, and fruitful labor was a part of His “very good” creation. All of this would indeed have been a source of great joy to all, had sin and the curse not intervened to change everything.

hand of God. It is significant that the writer of Ecclesiastes never uses the name “Lord” (i.e., Jehovah, or Yahweh), the personal, redemptive name of God used so pervasively in the Old Testament. It is always “God” (Hebrew elohim), the name especially identifying Him as the omnipotent Creator. All men, both saved and unsaved, can and should recognize God as their Creator, but only those who are saved can really know Him as their personal Redeemer.

Ecclesiastes 2:25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?

Ecclesiastes 2:26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.