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The Few Days of This Life -- Ecclesiastes Two --
Solomon said that life is nothing but vanity. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." ( Ecc_1:2 ) He had pursued knowledge and learning only to find that it was vain. Knowledge did not give him joy, it only increase his sorrow. In Ecclesiastes two he continued to show the sorrows and vanity of this world.
Solomon had searched for, but he had not found "true happiness." He did not find true happiness in pleasure, laughter nor wine. He realized that the days of the children of men on earth were only a few. What good thing could a man do with his brief earthly life?
Solomon had, (1) built houses and planted vineyards for himself, (2) made himself gardens and parks, (3) planted in them all kinds of fruit trees, (4) made pools from which to water the forest of growing trees, (5) bought male and female slaves, and had slaves that were born in his house, (6) had great possessions of herds and flocks, (7) gathered for himself silver and gold, (8) got both men and women singers, (9) had many concubines, (10) he became great and surpassed all who were before him in Jerusalem, (11) gained much wisdom, (12) did whatever his eyes desired, (13) kept his heart from no pleasure, and (14) found pleasure in all his toil. However, his sad statement was, "Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun."
All the things that Solomon pursued proved insufficient to make a man happy. He said he had thought that there was advantage for the wise person over the fool. But he said; "Yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them." "What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?" The wise die just like the fool dies. This led him to say, "I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind."
Solomon then pondered how far the business and wealth of this world would go towards making men happy. He said he spent his life gaining "stuff" only to leave it to "the man who will come after me." He did not know whether that man would be wise or a fool and yet he would be master of all that Solomon had toiled for. His conclusion was "this also is vanity." "What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity." He said that the best a man can do is eat, drink and enjoy the fruit of his toil because he will leave it all and it will be given to the man of God's choice.
The Vanity of Self-Indulgence -- Ecc_2:1-11 : All through the book of Ecclesiastes we observe Solomon as he thought and reasoned within himself . He had looked upon and tried all the good, pleasant, and delightful things of life. He had hoped that these things would make him happy. But all that he found was that happiness is not attained in these things. "Behold, this also is vanity." No eternal good arises from sinful mirth, either to the body or mind. And to laugh at everything profits nothing.
Solomon said he sought true happiness in wine. But, he did not find it there. He was very careful in this matter as he said, "Yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom." He wanted his mind alert enough to see what was good for man "under the sun." He made great works, built houses and planted vineyards yet did not find true happiness. The orchards and trees did not satisfy his soul. He made pools of water for beauty, for fish and for irrigation. Yet, his soul was still dry and parched. All of his servants and cattle could not satisfy that longing within. Silver and gold still left him poor and bankrupt in soul. Joyful singing did not even produce peace within. Even Solomon's greatness and wisdom did not satisfy his soul. He saw whatever he wanted to see and did whatever he wanted to do. Yet he said, "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. "
The Vanity of Living Wisely -- Ecc_2:12-17 : Solomon reflected on what a common man could do to find true happiness when he, with all his resources, had not been able to do so. He could only say that natural wisdom and knowledge exceeds folly. He said a wise man uses his eyes to make good judgment, but a fool just walks in darkness. Sadly, he said the same end comes to both the fool and the wise. "This is all vanity."
Solomon considered what he had accomplished by seeking wisdom. Was he a better man for his entire search for true happiness? Had it made him a happier person? Would his wisdom protect him from the end that would come to a fool? "Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity." The conclusion that Solomon will ultimately reach is that the death of a righteous man is different from the death of a wicked man. That is why we must fear God and keep His commandments.
The Vanity of Toil -- Ecc_2:18-23 : When Solomon stopped to consider his life he hated what he had done. He had spent his life collecting stuff to leave to someone else. He realized that the person that he left all this to might be a fool and squander it all away. These possibilities lead Solomon to despair. "Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun." ( Ecc_2:20 )
Solomon even contemplated the fact that all his possessions might be left to a person that had made no effort to help gain them. What advantage is it to a man when he has acquired all these things only to leave them to be possessed by another? The poor soul that pursues wealth might not even be able to sleep peaceably at night. He might be eager so to get wealth and so anxious about keeping it, that his sleep is not sweet and refreshing to him. "This is also vanity."
The vanity of Gathering -- Ecc_2:24-26 : Solomon said that the best thing that a man can do is enjoy in a cheerful and comfortable manner the good he has received from the hand of God. He should be content, thankful, and look upon the things that he has as blessings of divine goodness. No person had a greater opportunity to enjoy life than did Solomon. Yet he found that to have the heart to do so was a precious gift from God. He concluded that if God had not given a person the heart to use these possessions, he never would really be able to enjoy them.
The person that can enjoy the comforts of this life is the person that is good in God's sight. Keeping God's commandments is the way to enjoy the goods of this world. Things will not make a soul happy. The good we can have from them is for our body only. There is nothing better for a man than to make a sober and cheerful use of the things he has in God's service. The good things that we enjoy are gifts of God's providential bounty to us. Riches are a blessing or a curse to a man according to the use he makes of them.
The sinner has a life of disappointment because he is an enemy of God. Sinners miss true happiness because they are focused on this world instead of God.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 2". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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