When you get what you want will you still want it? Unfulfilled Fulfillment in Eccl. 2
April 16, 2012, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Searching for our Savior in His book

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon begins his search of life under the sun with three observations:  nothing changes, nothing is really new, and nothing can be understood.  He then proceeds to experiment and investigate the things that man, under the sun, seeks to find fulfillment for the empty void in his inner being.  He comes to the conclusion that life under the sun, is not worth living.  Life, from his research, is boring, wisdom is worthless and fleeting, wealth is worthless, and death is certain for all.

We all are engaged in a search for something that meets the needs of our heart.  Yet because of our rebellious and sinful natures, we seek for that something apart from God.  We are looking in all the wrong places for contentment in our lives.

In Ecclesiastes 2, King Solomon describes the result of his search to find what advantage or profit is gained from living “under the sun”.  In his conversation with himself, he tells of his seeking fulfillment in pleasure or mirth (v1-2), in wine, while using his wisdom to limit its use or misuse  (v3), in achieving great works such as building houses.  Solomon worked for 13 years building “the king’s house” (1 Kin. 9:10), then he built “the house of the Forest of Lebanon” (1 Kin. 10:17), and another house for his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kin. 9:24). He also fortified the cities of Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Beth Horon, Baalath, and Tadmor (1 Kin. 9:15, 17, 18). vineyards … gardens and orchards, literally “parks”.  Solomon was attempting to rebuild Eden with one difference; there was no restrictions.  Solomon loved the natural world and his attempt to build his empire with great buildings had no limit because of his wealth.  We need to examine our desire to build a legacy in light of God’s will.  The daily expenses of Solomon’s wealth was staggering.   His silver and gold or his riches were unsurpassed by the kings of the ancient world (1 Kin. 10:14–29)  Solomon also sought pleasure through aesthetic and artistic pleasure and through his legacy.  Each of these were found lacking in bringing the fulfillment he sought.  In verse 10, Solomon tells that he had limitless ability to fulfill any and all of his desires. His use of the word “labor” one of the Preacher’s favorite words and occurs here for the third time. It appears in the book about 31 times.

2:11 At the end of his grand quest for possessions and experiences, Solomon concluded that it was vanity or “vapor,” a grasping for wind. That is, even with all he had done and experienced, there was still a sense that nothing lasting or enduring had been achieved.

In verses 12-20, Solomon stated that wisdom was better than folly, but when death comes, both are useless.  When death comes, all our material accomplishments are left to others who may waste the great benefits that we have given our lives to achieve. In verse 14, Solomon spoke of the “same event”, which is mentioned in verses 14, 15; 3:19; 9:2, 3, 11). Compare verse 17 in Ecclesiastes with Proverbs 3:16.  A remarkable different outcome when we live under the sun or under the Son.

The chapter ends with an exciting solution to life’s problems:  enjoy God-given life and God-given work because they are from God.  When we look at work in light of our own strength, it brings pain, grief, and resentment.  We can’t wait for the weekend to come so we can have fun.  When we see work as a gift from God, we have joy in fulfilling our purpose.   (Look also at Eccl.  3:12, 13, 22; 5:18–20; 8:15; 9:7–10; 11:7–10).     To eat and drink, used five times in the book, must be understood in a good sense. Solomon always counsels the fear of God, and the concept is used in the Old Testament in a good sense (Deut. 14:26; 1 Kin. 4:20).  In Eccl 2:21 we find a word only used in the book of Ecclesiastes.  The noun “skill” is found in Ecclesiastes (2:21 and 4:4) It depicts one who is expert at a craft. In verse 21, we read of a “great evil” and here is doesn’t mean a sense of moral evil, but a calamity or ruin.  Solomon expresses his sadness with the thought that nothing “we” gain through our efforts can be carried on into the life to come.

In verse 25 “ : An alternative meaning of this phrase, “apart from God,” may be more appropriate in this context. Believers pray before their meals in order to affirm that God is the great Giver of all good gifts. They can enjoy the food on their plates only when they recognize that fact.

2:26 God gives: One of the words used most frequently in Ecclesiastes to describe God’s relationship to individuals is the verb “to give.” It appears 11 times with God as subject.

Solomon’s   Search for Satisfaction
Solomon   drifted away from God during his lifetime, pursuing different ways to achieve   satisfaction. Only after many years of futile searching did he finally   remember the true source of peace: a proper relationship with God. Solomon   wrote Ecclesiastes to pass on this truth. Satisfaction can be found only by   fearing God and keeping His commandments (12:13).
Solomon   sought fulfillment in: The   result was:
Wisdom   (1:12–18)

•     Acquiring   more knowledge

much grief and   increased sorrow (1:18)
Pleasure   (2:1–3)

•     Laughter   and mirth

vanity (2:1)
Accomplishments   (2:4–6)

•     Building   projects

•     Agricultural   endeavors

•     Engineering   experiments

vanity (2:11)
Possessions   (2:7–17)

•     Large   numbers of servants

•     Herds   of cattle

•     Wealth   in silver and gold (1 Kin. 10)

•     Choirs   and orchestras

•     Seven   hundred wives (1 Kin. 11:3)

no profit   under the sun (2:11)

hatred of life   (2:17)

Faith in the Hand of God. 2:24–26.

2:26 God gives: One of the words used most frequently in Ecclesiastes to describe God’s relationship to individuals is the verb “to give.” It appears eleven times with God as subject.

I, Me, and My.

Read 2:1-11 :  The words “I,” “me,” “my,” and “myself” appear more than forty times in Eccl. 2:1–11! This says a lot about the lifestyle that the writer was pursuing. He seems to have been focused on the gratification and glorification of himself.

Does this self-centered outlook sound familiar? Many people today are using their skills to attain a lifestyle that is built around their own comforts and convenience. The needs of others hardly matter to them.

But Ecclesiastes shows that this approach to living is ultimately empty, futile, and passing; it is “vanity and grasping for the wind” (2:11).

Is there a better way? Yes, the book goes on to say that real value in life can be found in fearing God (12:13) and honoring Him in the simple, basic “stuff” of life, such as work and family (2:24; 3:22; 5:18–19; 8:15).

One way to evaluate ourselves in this regard is to ask: In the midst of all our pursuits, whose life is enhanced by what we are about? If the only answer is “me,” then we are already on the perilous road of self-indulgence.

1. Satisfaction cannot be found in education (1:12-18).

2. Satisfaction cannot be found in pleasure (2:1-11).

3. Satisfaction cannot be found in wisdom (2:12-17).

4. Satisfaction cannot be found in work (2:18-26).


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