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Ecclesiastes 2

Pleasure has no purpose

1 ‘I will enjoy my life’, I thought. ‘I will make myself happy. That will be good.’ But it was not good. I enjoyed myself, but my life was not worth anything. 2 It was silly to laugh all the time. I could look for things to make me happy. But they would not make my life worth anything. 3 So I decided to drink wine to make myself happy. I wanted to understand how a fool thinks. But I did not want to be a fool myself. We only live for a short time on the earth. And I wanted to know the best way to use that time.

4 I made some great things. I built houses for myself and I planted many vines. 5 I made gardens and parks. I planted many fruit trees in the gardens and parks. 6 I made large pools to give water for the trees. 7 I bought male slaves and female slaves. Their sons and their daughters became my slaves too. Many people lived in Jerusalem before I did. And many of them had animals. But I had more cows and sheep than anyone else had. 8 I ruled many countries. And I got silver and gold for myself from their kings. Men and women sang for me. I got many wives to make me happy. These are all things that people enjoy. 9 I was the most famous person who had ever lived in Jerusalem. And I was very wise.

10 If I wanted to have something, I took it.

If I wanted to do something, I did it.

And I enjoyed my work.

I liked what I got from it.

11 Then I thought about the things that I had done.

I thought about all my difficult work.

But, in the end, I still saw that nothing had a purpose.

It was like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

None of the things that I had done had any value.

12 Then I decided to think about how a wise person lives.

I wanted to think also about how a fool lives.

I said to myself, ‘The next king will not do any more than I have done.’

13 I know that light is better than the dark.

And I saw that it is better to be wise.

To be a fool is worse.

14 A wise man looks where he is going.

A fool shuts his eyes when he walks.

But at the end of their lives, they both die.

15 Then I thought to myself, ‘Like the fool, I will die.

So, if I am wise, there is no value in it.’

I said to myself, ‘This too means nothing.’

16 People do not remember wise men or fools.

That is because people will forget everything at some future time.

Even wise men, like fools, must die in the end!

Work has no purpose

17 So I was not happy with my life. And my work on the earth does not make me happy now. All of my work was worth nothing. It was like somebody who tries to catch the wind. 18 I will die in the end. Then some other person will enjoy the things that I have made. 19 That person may be a wise man or he may be a fool. But he will have all the things that I have worked for on the earth. This, too, is not good. The fact that I was wise means nothing. 20 So I became sad about all my work on the earth. 21 A man may know how to do his job well. He may do his work well and after that, he dies. Then all that he had will become another man's things. And that man will not have worked for it. This too means nothing and it is very sad. 22 People have to do a lot of work on this earth. But they get nothing that they can keep. 23 Every day, their work disappoints them and it makes them sad. Even at night, their minds do not rest. All their work means nothing.

2:23The Teacher was very rich, but that did not make him happy. If nobody lives again after death, a wise man and a fool are the same. It is not better to be a wise man than it is to be a fool.

24 We should eat and we should drink. And we should enjoy our work. There is nothing better that we can do than those things. I believe that these are gifts from God. 25 Without God's help, nobody can have enough food to eat. And nobody can be happy. 26 If we obey God, he will help us. He will make us wise. He will make us clever. And he will help us to enjoy our life. But if we do not obey God, our lives will be difficult. He will give what is ours to another person. This, too, is not good. It is like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

2:26The Teacher wants us to enjoy the good things that God gives to us. So he wants us to believe what God says. Look at verse 26. There the Teacher tells us about the two ways for us to live. The best thing that we can say is, ‘Ask God for his help. Then do what he says.’