The Height of Futility

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2

1 I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 2 So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” 3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.

  • Hedonism; pleasure is the way to find meaning
  • Searching for wisdom in a state of intoxication is holding on to foolishness!
  • Some have a life so hard, intoxication is the only happiness they can find

4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves.

  • Examples of worldly endeavors that we measure purpose by
  • Notice he doesn’t mention doing any of this for other’s enjoyment…

7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. 8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!

  • The accumulation of ‘Stuff’
  • The striving for Status
  • Comparison
  • ‘Everything’ one could desire…

9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

  • Every pleasure was explored
  • No boundaries
  • ‘Hard Work Is it’s own reward’ Is that true?
  • What does it all amount to?

12 So I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and madness (for who can do this better than I, the king?). 13 I thought, “Wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. 14 For the wise can see where they are going, but fools walk in the dark.”

  • Basic assumption: Wise people will have a better life because of their wisdom
  • Viewing the world from a humanistic / Non Spiritual point of view

Yet I saw that the wise and the foolish share the same fate. 15 Both will die. So I said to myself, “Since I will end up the same as the fool, what’s the value of all my wisdom? This is all so meaningless!” 16 For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten.

  • The reality of our world: Everyone dies!
  • All the wisdom ‘under the sun’ cannot change that fate
  • All the wisdom of this world cannot cure the issue of our own mortality

17 So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

  • The phrase ‘under the sun’: speaks of life without the influence of Heaven
  • What is more futile than chasing the wind?

The realization of the futility of life can be valuable if we let it open our eyes to what really matters!

18 I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. 19 And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless!

  • This is a realization of how little control we have…
  • This world goes on without us after we go… (perspective as you age on this)

20 So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world. 21 Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy.

  • Fortunes, Reputations, Legacies, & Institutions…all squandered by heirs
  • People have searched for ways to guide the future after they die for centuries
  • What can we leave behind that is of eternal value?

22 So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? 23 Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless. 24 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.

  • Is all your hard work and worry worth it?
  • Obsession with work is a dead end street
  • What makes any of these pleasures ‘Legit’ is recognizing God’s part in them

25 For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? 26 God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

  • Is there fulfillment or meaning gained from life without a relationship w/ God?
  • The God given things are not found outside of a right relationship with Him
  • The real control rest in the hands of God, and we can’t judge His ways

Hedonism / Intoxication / Self Fulfillment / Building / Creating / Accumulation / Status & Accomplishment: ALL ARE MEANINGLESS!!!



Application Questions / Exercises:

In the pursuit of your dreams, specifically where does God fit in?

How do you evaluate whether something has eternal significance or not?

List three things you control completely. Ask someone you are close to if you’re right.

Ask one person you admire what gives their life meaning & purpose.