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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Ecclesiastes 2

Verses 1-3

ECCLESIASTES

CHAPTER 2

SEARCH FOR SATISFACTION IN PLEASURE

Verses 1-3 describe Solomon’s next experiment, an effort to find satisfaction In sensual pleasure. He tried the amusements for which people under the sun strove, and even indulged to some extent in the drinking of wine; but found such to be empty and vain. To this there is much agreement in the Scriptures, Ecclesiastes 7:3-6; Proverbs 14:13; Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 21:17; Proverbs 23:31; Isaiah 5:11; Luke 6:25; 1 Timothy 5:6.

Verses 4-11

SEARCH FOR SATISFACTION IN GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Verses 4-9 reveal Solomon’s futile effort to find satisfac­tion in great accomplishments. In these six verses he used the word "I" eleven times, to emphasize what "he" had accomplished:

1) made great works; 2) builded houses, 1 Kings 7:1-12; 1 Kings 3) planted vineyards, Song of Solomon 8:11; Song of Solomon 4) made gardens and orchards, Song of Solomon 4:16; Song of Solomon 5) planted fruit trees, Vs 5; 6) constructed great water-works of pools and aqueducts to provide water for human use and irrigation, Nehemiah 2:14; Nehemiah 3:15-16; Nehemiah 7) acquired men and women servants, Vs 6; Ezra 2:58; Ezra 8) acquired great possessions of cattle, 1 Kings 4:22-23; 1 Kings 4:26; 1 Kings 9) acquired silver, gold and treasures of kings, Vs 8; 1 Kings 10:27;

10) acquired men and women singers, Vs 8; 11) was great and increased more than all that were before him in Jerusalem, 1 Chronicles 29:25. See also 1 Kings 9:1-12.

Verses 10-11 emphasize that no desire of Solomon was restrained in his effort to find satisfaction in great works; but when all was done he could only say, all was vanity and vexation of spirit.

Verses 12-17

IS WISDOM BETTER THAN FOLLY UNDER THE SUN?

Verses 12-17 reveal Solomon’s conclusion that wisdom excels folly, under the sun, in that it provides light rather than darkness, while one lives under the sun; but offers nothing better than madness or folly, beyond life, under the sun. One certainly awaits all; they die and are soon forgotten. Life under the sun is therefore vanity and vexation of spirit.

Verses 18-23

WILL A DESERVING PERSON BE HEIR?

Verses 18-23 reveal Solomon’s troubling thoughts regarding who would inherit the fruit of his labors under the sun:

1) He was troubled that he knew not whether his heir would be a wise man or a fool, Vs 18, 19; Psalms 49:10.

2) He despaired that one who had not labored might inherit that which he had gained through wisdom and diligence, Vs 20, 21.

3) He was troubled by the knowledge that his days of labor under the sun, often attended by sorrow and vexation, should boring uncertainty and despair as he approached the end of his days, Vs 22, 23; Job 5:7; Job 14:1.

4) Repeatedly, he expresses awareness that all these concerns

Verses 24-26

GOD’S GIFTS TO MEN

Verses 24-26 contrast God’s gifts to the good (pleasing) in His sight and those who are sinners;

1) Verses 24 and 26 affirm, in contrast to the unrestrained indulgence in excesses, described in verses 1-23, that there is nothing better for man in life than grateful enjoyment of good things produced by his own labor and received with thankful recognition that God is the giver. This affirmation is emphasized by further repetition in Ecclesiastes 3:13; Ecclesiastes 5:18; Ecclesiastes 8:15; Ecclesiastes 9:17 and James 1:17.

2) Verse 26 also affirms that God gives to the man with whom He is pleased, wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner He gives the task of gathering and accumulating that he may leave such to him that pleases God, an effort that is vanity and vexation of spirit for the sinner, Proverbs 13:22; Matthew 5:5; Job 27:16-17; Proverbs 28:8.

NOTE: In the light of Hebrews 11:6 which affirms that "without faith it is impossible to please God", Verses 24 and 26 and the references listed under comment 1 above refers to persons physically under the sun, with faith in God above the sun, in contrast with sinners.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 2". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ecclesiastes-2.html. 1985.