Lord, my desires center around You.
Read ECCLESIASTES 2:1–16
Pleasures Are Meaningless
2 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless
12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
that the same fate overtakes them both.
15 Then I said to myself,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
“This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!
a Ecclesiastes 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). What is your most precious treasure—and why?
In trivia games, competitors must answer questions relating to a wide variety of subjects. The well-known board game Trivial Pursuit, launched in 1981, has sold more than 100 million copies in over 20 countries and 15 languages.
In his quest for significance and meaning, the Teacher immerses himself in a variety of pursuits. He chases after pleasure through wine, women and song; he seeks satisfaction through ambitious building projects; and, in his pursuit of knowledge, he becomes legendary for his great wisdom. Yet, as he takes stock of everything he has acquired, achieved and enjoyed, the Teacher is forced to concede that all have proven to be trivial pursuits—bringing a measure of success and happiness, yet never fully or truly satisfying, as suggested by the string of phrases such as: “everything was meaningless,” “chasing after the wind” and “nothing was gained” (11). Despite its failure to fully or finally satisfy, the Teacher does recognize that wisdom has some value (13). But true wisdom, founded on fear of the Lord, will always lead us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).
We’re all chasing something, but will whatever we’re chasing endure beyond our life under the sun? Jesus addresses this question in his Sermon on the Mount. Only heavenly treasures yield lasting satisfaction. To invest our fleeting lives “under the sun” with eternal significance, we must set our gaze beyond pleasures, possessions, positions, power or personal aggrandizement and fix our eyes firmly upon the Son. Precious possessions, long-coveted positions, hard-won trophies… all of these contain an expiration date. Heavenly wisdom dictates that we invest our earthly resources—time, talents, energy, wealth, positions, power, influence—in the permanent security of an “above the sun” kingdom.
What “trivial pursuits” are distracting or diverting you from investing in heavenly treasures?
Lord, keep Your people from the entanglements of temporary, fleeting enterprises, and show us how to set our compass toward the eternal.