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CHAPTER 2 Apr. 23 
The Preacher Seeks for Satisfaction in Pleasure
1I said in my heart, Come now, I will test you with mirth: therefore enjoy pleasure; and behold, this also was vanity. 2I said of laughter, It is foolishness; and of mirth, What does it accomplish?
3I searched in my heart how to cheer my flesh with wine, my heart yet guiding me with wisdom, and how to lay hold of folly, until I might see what it was good for the sons of men that they should do under heaven all the days of their lives. 4I made myself great works. I built myself houses. I planted myself vineyards. 5I made myself gardens and parks, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit. 6I made myself pools of water, to water from it the forest where trees were reared. 7I bought male servants and female servants, and had servants born in my house. I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, above all who were before me in Jerusalem; 8I also gathered silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and of the provinces. I got myself male and female singers, and the delights of the sons of men—musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 9So I was great, and increased more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also remained with me. 10Whatever my eyes desired, I didn’t keep from them. I didn’t withhold my heart from any joy, for my heart rejoiced because of all my labour, and this was my portion from all my labour. 11Then I looked at all the works that my hands had worked, and at the labour that I had laboured to do; and behold, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was no profit under the sun.

The Preacher Despairs of Earthly Life
12I turned myself to consider wisdom, madness, and folly: for what can the king’s successor do? Just that which has been done long ago. 13Then I saw that wisdom excels folly, as far as light excels darkness. 14The wise man’s eyes are in his head, and the fool walks in darkness—and yet I perceived that one event happens to them all. 15Then I said in my heart, As it happens to the fool, so will it happen even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16For of the wise man, even as of the fool, there is no memory for ever, since in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. Indeed, the wise man must die just like the fool! 17So I hated life, because the work that is worked under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind. 18I hated all my labour in which I laboured under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who comes after me. 19Who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have rule over all of my labour in which I have laboured, and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity. 20Therefore I began to cause my heart to despair concerning all the labour in which I had laboured under the sun. 21For there is a man whose labour is with wisdom, with knowledge, and with skilfulness; yet he shall leave it for his portion to a man who has not laboured for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22For what has a man of all his labour, and of the striving of his heart, in which he labours under the sun? 23For all his days are sorrows, and his travail is grief; yes, even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity. 24There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God. 25For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I? 26For to the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner He gives travail, to gather and to heap up, that He may give to him who pleases God. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.


2:9 Solomon insists that throughout his life, his wisdom had remained with him. The theoretical wisdom which he had did not affect his life practically, and thus it was as if he lacked wisdom completely. Mere possession of truth leads to great temptations- for like Solomon, we can reason that this alone justifies us in any behaviour.
2:18,21 Solomon saw “wisdom” as something he had worked for [forgetting it was God’s gracious gift to him], and he treated it as a material possession. Because he saw that he couldn’t take it with him, he felt therefore it was useless- he didn’t, it seems, want to leave it to his son because he felt it was only for him. This was the spirit of the man who buried his talent of Divine Truth in the ground and thought that would be enough- he wouldn’t risk it with others or share it with them. And so Solomon ended up hating all his labour for wisdom because at the end of his life that mere knowledge and teaching of it to others hadn’t transformed his personal life. The rejected at the day of judgment may well, tragically, feel the same. But now is the time to personally apply God’s Truth to ourselves and to be humbled by the very possession of it.