NIV Ecclesiastes 1:1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: 2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." 3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow. 12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 15 What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.16 I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge." 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. 18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
NIV Ecclesiastes 2:1 I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?" 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly-- my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well-- the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. 10 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. 11 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. 12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done? 13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness. 14 The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both. 15 Then I thought in my heart, "The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?" I said in my heart, "This too is meaningless." 16 For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die! 17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. 24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
1) Prologue and Theme (1:1-2)
NIV Ecclesiastes 1:1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: 2 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."
· It is me Solomon … the king, the wealthiest, smartest man you’ll ever know!
· And let me tell you –
i. Vanities, vanities, meaningless, meaningless, soap-bubbles!
2) Reflection about the nature of human toil (1:3-11)
." 3 What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? 4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. 11 There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.
· v.3 - Rhetorical question…. “Under the sun”
· v.4 coming and going… being born and die… born and die…. V.5 sun just goes around and around and around
· v.6 the wind blows here, blows there, just blows one way and blows back the other
· v.7 O’ the rivers and streams… they’re no different flowing endlessly into the sea….
n There is no satisfaction or rest v.8
· Weariness – 1:8 a
· Eye/ear never satisfied – 1:8b
n There is nothing new! 1:9-10
· What has been will be
· Nothing new “Under the sun”
· Is there anything that is truly ‘new’
· It is all been here before… in one form or another
n There is no remembrance or veneration of renown 1:11
· No veneration of the past
· No veneration in the future
3) Two key realms of life are tested for their lasting value (1:12-2:11)
a. Wisdom and Intellectual Pursuits
· Solomon’s credibility v.12
· The reason for this study of “the meaning of life” v. 13
1. more than information… satisfaction
2. notice his comment about the pain of it all
· His observation about what he learned (v. 14-15)
1. solutions do not come from intellectual information or assent
2. the curse prevails
a. Kaiser: “The problem calls for a solution greater than the sum of all its parts!”
· He States his conclusion on the matter v 16-18
1. credibility… exhaustive research and concludes “chasing after the wind”
2. are University campus places of tranquility and satisfaction?
3. notice the pain of knowledge – Ignorance is bliss!
Summary: To seek the meaning of life without referring back to the Creator (the Almighty) is to lead only to futility
** Pushing against an immovable fact (God) but just like a runner stretching against a wall Solomon has been stretched and us with him as we read.
b. Fun and Possessions
1. How much…. How much to be happy
2. 4-W man… wine, women, wealth and wisdom
· If it feels good do it – test (v 2:1-2)
· Then he described all things he did in his quest.
1. joys and sensations of wine
2. Luxurious lifestyle
a. Houses / estates
b. Servants for every need
c. Flock / herds
d. Riches of gold and silver
e. Musical delights
f. A harem of women
· He gave it all he had… with vigour and joy. The end result “chasing after the wind v. 2:9-11
Summary: He did it his way (Frank Sinatra) so did Elvis….
1. one more thrill, one more laugh…. Just one more…. Solomon cries out STOP!
4) Two key purposes in life are evaluated for their lasting legacy and value (2:12-23)
a. The legacy of wisdom
· Which is better wisdom or folly? V 12
1. Positive and negative conclusions….
a. Wisdom as light for life v13-14a
i. Smart and wise vs. stupid and foolish
b. Common fate 2:14b
i. Death wins
2. And….neither will be remembered – tell some personal detail about Ramses II
3. Then he announces he hates life! – it is frustration
Summary: no lasting satisfaction…under the sun. – nothing satisfies… soap bubbles
b. The Legacy of labour and provision
· Legacy of labour is worthwhile
1. even though he hated the things toiled for under the sun v 2:18a
2. reasons: can’t take it with you v 18b
can’t depend on those left behind v 19-21
3. toil is just painful… before the grave v. 22 -23
a. what you get for all of this?
b. Pain, grief and sleepless nights
Summary: the legacy of labour is worthwhile…. But we need to be good stewards of our time… not workaholics!
Let the next generation fend for themselves too… the work is too painful!
NOW LET ME TELL YOU – the conclusion!
1) Life is to be enjoyed – 2:24
a. Eaton: This refrain “is an animated affirmation” that mankind has no higher good than to synchronize with God’s beneficent purposes for him.”
b. C.f. Ps 104:4, 1 Tim 4:4, 6:6-10
2) True joy is a gift from God! – 2:25
a. It is not found in a world apart form God!
3) God rewards with wisdom, knowledge, and joy, those who please him!! 2:26
a. Justice will prevail….if not today then…
b. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth Mt 5:5
c. c.f. Prov 13:22, Lk 19:24, 1 Cor 3:21