Ecclesiastes 2:1-2, In chapter 1 Solomon’s quest for wisdom was external: he examined everything from how wisdom works to madness and folly (Ecclesiastes 1:17). Now he turns to the internal. He is going to now explore pleasures to answer the question, will I find more satisfaction in pleasure than in wisdom? Does joy and pleasure bring the answer to the question posed in Ecclesiastes 1:3? In Ecclesiastes 2:3-11 we have a list of activities that were the elements of his search. He begins by saying at the very start that the answer is no. His verdict in total is answered with the question “what does it accomplish?” to which his assumed answer is “nothing”!
But we need to keep in mind that though his conclusion was that seeking pleasure was empty, you can be sure that he enjoyed himself on his way to this conclusion. After all, part of pleasure’s lure is that it offers to us a degree in some cases a good degree of pleasure. God gave us our senses of tasting, touching and such. In fact if you are senses oriented as many today are you come to the conclusion as many do that this is what we were created for. Solomon set about to test that view of life by abandoning himself to pleasure.
Ecclesiastes 2:3 The wise man’s very language suggested how difficult the human quest for meaning is. The good (Ecclesiastes 2:1) in life—what is really worth going after—was not at all apparent. Therefore, the Preacher had to “search” diligently (see Ecclesiastes 1:13 for the force of the verb “searched”). His quest was to discern if the true philosophy of life is “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (Isaiah 22:13)? Like an eager boy at a county fair, he roamed from booth to booth tasting all that was available.
Ecclesiastes 2:4-8 – Solomon pursued the joy of building houses, the planting of vineyards, fruit trees, and gardens (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6). In much the same way as the kings Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, whose achievements in building and planting became wonders of the world Solomon went at with gusto.
Solomon oversaw the work as his servants built what he directed He had only to give the word, and slaves did his bidding (cf. 1 Kings 9:17-22). Solomon multiplied horses, cattle and sheep in the land (Ecclesiastes 2:7b). He increased his wealth by his strategic use of the trading bridge between Egypt and Asia (1 Kings 10:21-29). He oversaw the gathering of the finest soloists and choirs (Ecclesiastes 2:8). The final item in collecting was wives and concubines. All of these things were specifically commanded by the Lord not to be done Deuteronomy 17:14ff. But in his pursuit of wisdom and pleasure he went his own way and not only did he pay the consequences but so did Israel.
Someone might say that this prevented him from really experiencing true pleasure because his constant analysis of his feelings would hinder real enjoyment. But if Solomon had allowed himself to be swept away with all of his pleasures, he would have very likely fallen into the despair and bondage of immorality. He approached this analytically but in doing so he did not heed God’s word and reaped the consequences.
God is not mocked what a man sows even for intellectual or scientific reasons there will be a price to pay. In the end money and the pleasures it can buy do not lift us above the trials and difficulties of life as we are prone to think at times. Solomon will later articulate this further in Ecclesiastes 5:8-17. Meanwhile, he faces us with the question of whether money can bring us to the joy we were made for. Despite riches we may still be empty shells and our gains only as substantial as the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Solomon sought happiness in “all the wrong places.” Happiness is not found in worldly pleasures. Moses chose to suffer affliction with the children of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25).
Sin does have its appeal because the world makes it look good but whatever pleasure it brings it is only temporal. Solomon obtained many worldly possession in order to continue his search for happiness. Note the words “I” and “me.” Solomon tried to make happiness happen for him, but He was not going to the right source. It is a sin to leave God out of your plans (James 4:13-17). Many of us often feel that we would be happy if we were rich and had some certain thing. Paul learned to be content in whatever state he was (Philippians 4:11). We must be content in Christ (Hebrews 13:5).