Ecclesiastes 2 

I will be posting the 12 chapters of the Book of Ecclesiastes one chapter at a time on my blog. Look on the blog for new postings of new chapters as I post them. I am using bold text for the Word of God from the King James Version Bible as it is written. I will use italic for my commentary below the chapters and verses from the book of Ecclesiastes, This commentary is how I help people understand what is written in the Bible.

This is Ecclesiastes 2

Ecclesiastes 2 

Ecclesiastes 2:1-3

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

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

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 2:1-3

Solomon believed that he could discover the truth by careful study and thought. That remains a popular opinion today. It is how science operates. Man knows better then God. Man can do, make or figure things out on his own. This always leads to folly, for he thinks he knows more then he can possibly know.

There is also a different opinion that has always been more popular than that. It is the opinion that, really, people should just try to enjoy their lives. They should do whatever can make them happy at the present moment. People should not think about serious matters, for example good and evil, truth, the future, or their problems or even God. Such thoughts will only make them sad and demand they do something.

Of course, that is a very foolish, lazy opinion. But that is how many people choose to live. And that is how Solomon decided that he too would behave.

Solomon always knew that he was doing something stupid. He never really thought that laughter and pleasure would achieve anything worthwhile. But, as a wealthy and powerful king, he had every opportunity to enjoy himself. And he desired by his own experience to know what really is the best kind of life.

In (Ecclesiastes 2:4-9) “4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:

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

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

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:

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.

9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me”. Solomon describes what he did. And in (Ecclesiastes 2:11) “11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun”, he tells us what he discovered. He had discovered absolutely nothing and he had achieved absolutely nothing. It was a complete waste of time.

Solomon’s efforts to be wise achieved nothing (Ecclesiastes 1:12-18) “12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.

13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow”. This shows us once again his efforts to be foolish achieved nothing. In the end, all human effort is just hard work.

God does not reward people for their effort (Romans 4:5) “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness”. He rewards people who trust him. (Hebrews 11:6) “6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”.That is how God wants people to live (Galatians 3:11) “11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith”.

Ecclesiastes 2:4-8

I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:

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

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

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:

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 2:4-8 

In Ecclesiastes 2:4-8, Solomon tells us about some of the great things that he did for his own pleasure. From the pursuit of wisdom Solomon turned his energies to the creation of a world within the evil world we live in; his world he built was all his own filled with his own creations.This hardly seems like a list of Solomon’s evil deeds. And it hardly seems like a list of activities that achieved nothing. But Solomon was thinking like he was a god, and acting like one as well!

Solomon’s first great activity during his rule was to build the house of God (called the temple) in Jerusalem. God had said that Solomon should do that (2 Samuel 7:12-13) “12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.

13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever “. Clearly, that had an important purpose. And Solomon was careful not to include it in this list of things that he did to please himself.

When Solomon finished the temple, he began to make his palaces, gardens and pools. At the start, perhaps even he did not realize that he was doing anything wrong. He was just doing what any other rich king would do. But in fact, he was behaving like a fool. He was serving himself, and Satan instead of God. Wrong desires and selfish ambition had taken control of Solomon’s life. As wise as Solomon was, he could not see what Satan was doing to him. See (James 3:14-17) “14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy”.

Solomon also collected a lot of silver and gold. More then he would need as king. He collected wives, horses and slaves. And then everyone of his people who was also living under the sun thought that he really was a great king. But that was not God’s opinion about Solomon’s behavior (1 Kings 11:9) “9 And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice”. In the end Solomon even chose to serve false gods (1 Kings 11:4-6) “4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. 

Solomon turned evil as he grew older, and it shows us in the Bible he took collected revenue for one year of six hundred three score and six talents of gold. That is about 25 tons of gold! But it also shows us this number, six hundred three score and six talents of gold, that equals the number 666. (1 Kings 10:14) “14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold”,

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 

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

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 labor: and this was my portion of all my labor.

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

Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

What Solomon saw with his eyes, he desired in his heart. When he satisfied his desire, he felt a sense of pride. So Solomon thought that he was carrying out his work well. He was achieving the things that he wanted to do. His work gave him a feeling of satisfaction. And therefore, his work seemed right and good to him.

When Solomon completed each task, he desired something else. So his work began again. And it seemed that his work would never end. He even wanted things that nobody had ever seen (2 Chronicles 9:17-19) “17 Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold.

18 And there were six steps to the throne, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne, and stays on each side of the sitting place, and two lions standing by the stays:

19 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps. There was not the like made in any kingdom”. Solomon drove himself to work much harder to obtain those things, but the feeling of satisfaction seemed greater.

Only afterwards did Solomon realize that all this work had no useful purpose. That feeling of satisfaction was the only reward for all his hard work. And that feeling did not even last.

Nobody had ever had such great wealth, but Solomon’s experiences are not unusual. People have similar experiences whenever they allow their desires to rule their lives. John wrote about such desires in (1 John 2:16-17) “16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”. He warned that the world and its desires would not last. These desires come from the world, and not from God. So, it is wrong to follow those desires. What John wrote is so true but so far from what Solomon knew, people should do what God wants them to do. If people do that, then God will be pleased with them. And that is a much better way to live.

Ecclesiastes 2:-12-16

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.

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

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.

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.

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 2:12-16

Solomon had learned to be wise, but he had also behaved in a foolish manner. Now, he compares the two experiences. They were similar in some ways.

Both Paul and James wrote about two kinds of wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-30);”18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”.

(James 3:13-17). “13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy”.

One kind of wisdom is a gift that comes only from God. It causes a person to respect God and to refuse evil things. We read about that kind of wisdom in the Books of Proverbs and Job (Proverbs 3:5-6); “5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”.

(Proverbs 9:10); “10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding”.

(Job 28:28). “28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding”.

But the Book of Ecclesiastes seems to have a lower standard of wisdom. Here, we read about the kind of wisdom that comes from this world, a world under the sun. To become wise in this manner, a person must think clearly and study carefully. Like Solomon, that person must learn all that he can from this world.

So, a wise person understands what is happening. He is like a person who carries a lamp at night. The light may not actually make him safer, but at least he can see the dangers! But the foolish person pretends that there are no dangers. Or he does not care about danger. Or he is not patient enough to study about such things. Risks and dangers are unknown to him.

A wise person can protect himself from some troubles. But only a fool imagines that he can protect himself from every trouble. So a wise person realizes that he will certainly die. He has learned from his study of this world that he cannot remain in this world. And then somebody else will receive everything that the wise man obtained by his wisdom. And after a time, people will forget both the wise man and the things that he learned in this world.

But the wisdom that comes from God brings eternal life, not death (1 John 2:17); “17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”.

(Proverbs 8:32-36). “32 Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.

33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.

36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death”.

Ecclesiastes 2:17-21

 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.

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

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

20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labor which I took under the sun.

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

Ecclesiastes 2:17-21

Solomon had wanted to find a better way to live, by his careful study of this world. But this world and its wisdom disappointed Solomon. Neither wise nor foolish behavior had taught Solomon a better way to live. These things had only taught him that he must certainly die!

Solomon does not say whether he felt any fear of death. His fear was of the things that would happen after his death.

A person works hard to earn his wages. It upsets him if he loses any part of them. Solomon had worked hard but, at death, he would lose everything. That might not matter if the new owner of those things used them wisely. But Solomon could not be sure about that.

We know from (1 Kings 12:1-19) “1 And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.

2 And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;)

3 That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying,

4 Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.

5 And he said unto them, Depart yet for three days, then come again to me. And the people departed.

6 And king Rehoboam consulted with the old men, that stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived, and said, How do ye advise that I may answer this people?

7 And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.

8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:

9 And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, Make the yoke which thy father did put upon us lighter?

10 And the young men that were grown up with him spake unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou speak unto this people that spake unto thee, saying, Thy father made our yoke heavy, but make thou it lighter unto us; thus shalt thou say unto them, My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins.

11 And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had appointed, saying, Come to me again the third day.

13 And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;

14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

15 Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the Lord, that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.

17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.

18 Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem.

19 So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day”. that Solomon’s son behaved in a very foolish manner. (1 Kings 14:25-28) “25 And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem:

26 And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.

27 And king Rehoboam made in their stead brazen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house.

28 And it was so, when the king went into the house of the Lord, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.tells how he lost much of his father’s wealth”.

What upset Solomon most was the loss of all his effort. He worked so hard because he wanted to achieve something during his life. But the things that he was achieving belong to this world. And nothing in this world lasts.

Jesus taught that people can achieve something permanent during their lives. But they will not achieve it by means of the wisdom that comes from this world. In other words, careful study, sensible thought and hard effort will not achieve permanent results. What we need is to have God’s wisdom. God gives us that wisdom by his word (the King James Version Bible). And unlike the wisdom that we can learn from this world, God’s wisdom will never disappoint us. Let’s look at (Matthew 7:24-25) “24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:”

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”

and see also (John 12:49-50). “49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”

Ecclesiastes 2:22-26

 For what hath man of all his labor, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath labored under the sun?

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

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 labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.

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

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.

Ecclesiastes 2:22-26

Usually, a person’s daily tasks are hard. People do not even receive a proper reward or payment for their efforts. That is the nature of life in this world. We cannot really expect anything else. What happens in this world is not usually fair, right or good.

But sometimes, for some people, life does not seem so hard. Their work feels pleasant, and they feel content. They begin to enjoy their lives.

God has been especially kind to those people, and they should be very grateful to him. All good things come from God (James 1:17). But those people should not imagine that their happiness will continue for their whole lives. They must still be loyal to God, even when their time of happiness ends. God deserves honor whatever the state of our lives may be.

Job was a man who had a very pleasant life (Job 29:1-6). Job 1:10 gives the reason. Job was God’s servant, and God was protecting him. But then Satan (the devil) wanted to test Job, and God allowed it. So Job suffered much. The purpose of the test was to see whether Job would still give honor to God. Job proved that he really was loyal to God. Job praised God even when he was suffering most. He did not serve God just because God was kind to him. He served God because God deserves honor. After Job’s troubles, God showed special kindness to him again (Job 42:10-17).We cannot earn God’s kindness, and we cannot obtain it by human effort. It is God’s gift; it is not a payment or a reward.

This end Ecclesiastes 2

All Glory to God

His humble servant Lee M Buchanan