Ecclesiastes 2:1-11: Possessions and Pleasure

Read: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

The writer of Ecclesiastes — that is the “Preacher” – had tried wisdom and concluded that the pursuit of wisdom for wisdom’s sake was empty and meaningless. In the same manner, the author pursued pleasure that came in many forms: alcohol, money, and wealth, women, and pleasures of all sorts.  At the end of this pursuit he says that it too is vanity, meaning that it is empty and void of meaning. It, like wisdom, did not satisfy his longing and left him weary. The Bible has much to say concerning the things the writer pursued:

  • Alcohol – There’s no direct prohibition against the consumption of alcohol in the Bible except for priests and Nazarites, but there is a prohibition against being intoxicated (Proverbs 20:1, Proverbs 21:17, Ephesians 5:18, 1 Peter 5:8).
  • Money and Wealth – Money has its uses, no doubt. The Bible does not condone having money but that it should be used for good (1 Timothy 6:11-21, Proverbs 3:9-10) rather than evil (James 5:1-6), but the pursuit of money for the sake of being wealthy is shunned (Proverbs 23:4-45, Matthew 6:19-20). The Bible teaches too that contentment is good (1 Timothy 6:6-8, Philippians 4:11) and that it is better to be righteous than wealthy (Proverbs 15:16-17, Proverbs 16:8).
  • Women – Having a wife is a good thing and should be celebrated (Proverbs 18:22 Proverbs 5:15-23, Proverbs 19:14, Song of Solomon, Proverbs 31:10-31) but having relationships with women for pleasure is condemned (Matthew 5:27-28, Romans 13:13).
  • Pleasure – Licentious living is most certainly condemned in the Bible (Proverbs 14:12,  2 Timothy 3:4, 1 Timothy 5:6,  2 Timothy 2:22). But enjoying the fruit of one’s labor is the right of every man who works (Ecclesiastes 3:13, Ecclesiastes 2:24, Psalm 128:2).

All the things that the author of Ecclesiastes pursued have their place a right and proper use. Like wisdom, these things are not inherently meaningless, but as an end in and of themselves, they are. If one pursues any one of these things, ultimately one will be left wanting more. Jesus in Matthew 8:36-37 that it is no good for a man to gain  the whole world but lose his soul. When one pursues Christ and righteousness, he shall be satisfied (Matthew 5:6, Psalm 4:6-7). When one is satisfied with God and content in his or her circumstances, then it is here that one will find meaning and be filled, but not in by any other means. Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 says that the Lord takes care of everything, and that the Christian should seek first the kingdom of God, and not obsess over the things of the world.

Lord, help me to find contentment in you and you alone!