Ecclesiastes 2:1-16

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!