Get the free app for more features and content.
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play

The Futility of Self-Indulgence

1I said to myself, “Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But again, this also was vanity. 2I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3I searched with my mind how to cheer my body with wine—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, until I might see what was good for mortals to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4I made great works; I built houses and planted vineyards for myself; 5I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house; I also had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and of the provinces; I got singers, both men and women, and delights of the flesh, and many concubines.

9So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; also my wisdom remained with me. 10Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Wisdom and Joy Given to One Who Pleases God

12So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly; for what can the one do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness.

14The wise have eyes in their head,

but fools walk in darkness.

Yet I perceived that the same fate befalls all of them. 15Then I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also; why then have I been so very wise?” And I said to myself that this also is vanity. 16For there is no enduring remembrance of the wise or of fools, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How can the wise die just like fools? 17So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

18I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me 19—and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? 23For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.

24There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God; 25for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26For to the one who pleases him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives the work of gathering and heaping, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a chasing after wind.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Click here to learn more.

Featured Resources

The Book of Ecclesiastes

The Book of Ecclesiastes

In Ecclesiastes, we hear the skeptical voice of “the teacher.” He observes th...

BibleProject

The Vanity of Pleasure

The Vanity of Pleasure

Guy Mason, from City on a Hill Church in Melbourne, Australia, talks about th...

The Village Church

Introduction to Ecclesiastes

Introduction to Ecclesiastes

Dr. Rob Johnston introduces Ecclesiastes as a book of paradoxes, holding two ...

Fuller Studio

Ecclesiastes Speaks Today, Part One

Ecclesiastes Speaks Today, Part One

By: Alistair Begg at Basics Pastor Conference 2014 - http://www.truthforlife....

Truth For Life

Overview: Ecclesiastes

Overview: Ecclesiastes

Watch our overview video on the book of Ecclesiastes, which breaks down the l...

BibleProject

The Books of Solomon

The Books of Solomon

The wisest king of Israel, King Solomon, is associated with three books of th...

BibleProject

Overview: TaNaK / Old Testament

Overview: TaNaK / Old Testament

Watch our overview video on the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Bible...

BibleProject

Explore Ecclesiastes 2