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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 2

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

Verses 1-26

  1. Intro: Title: The Tears of a Clown
    1. I love the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. "Why aren't you out there fishing?" he asked. "Because I've caught enough fish for today," said the fisherman. "Why don't you catch more fish than you need?" the rich man asked. "What would I do with them?" "You could earn more money," came the impatient reply, "and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you'd have a fleet of boats and be rich like me." The fisherman asked, "Then what would I do?" "You could sit down and enjoy life," said the industrialist. "What do you think I'm doing now?" the fisherman replied.
    2. Solomon, Healthy, Wealth, & Wise…yet still in Want.
    3. If Solomon was depicted as an animal it sure wouldn’t be an Ostrich.
      1. Maybe a raccoon, or a cat, because of his curiosity.
    4. Solomon is about to embark on the greatest detailed experiments ever attempted by man.
      1. He had everything in his power in which to accomplish these tests: money, time, power, wisdom, & resources.
      2. It was time to cut loose & indulge in every passion/appetite w/o restraint.
        1. You might say, Wow! But Solomon said, Whoa!
  2. DELUSIONS (1-10) and Conclusions (11-26)
    1. Here is pure 100% Hedonism. [hay-doh-NAY in NT, english pleasure, hedonism]
      1. Hedonism is the ethical theory that pleasure is the sole or chief good in life and that the pursuit of it, is the ideal aim of conduct.
      2. This is what the Epicureans were about in Acts 17:18. Paul had to deal with.
    2. He tested his heart with: Pleasure (1-3). Works (4-6). Workers (7a). Wealth (7b-9).
      1. You’ve probably never dabbled in any of these :)
    3. PLEASURE (1-3)
    4. Wiersbe, God made life for Enjoyment & Investment not Experiment.
      1. ​​​​​​​Which is exactly what Solomon turned life into...so maybe we wouldn’t have to.
    5. Read 1 Tim.6:17-19 (emphasize enjoy)
      1. God made man to enjoy the blessings of His creation.
      2. As much as you want your children to enjoy things you’ve been able to provide for them...UNTIL their enjoyment is only in those things.
      3. Wiersbe, God is no Celestial Spoilsport who watches closely to make sure nobody is having a good time.
    6. Can you picture this wealthy king in his banqueting hall.
      1. 1 Kings 10:21 All King Solomon's drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon.
    7. Eating the best of foods.
      1. 1 Kings 4:22,23 The daily food requirements for Solomon’s palace were 150 bushels of choice flour and 300 bushels of meal; also 10 oxen from the fattening pens, 20 pasture-fed cattle, 100 sheep or goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roe deer, and choice poultry. nlt [lamb chops, mutton, venison, wild game, game birds]
    8. Drinking the premium Temecula wines & watching the best of entertainers at Pechanga.
      1. The Palace Rocked. But, when the party was over, confetti & streamers still on the ground, party hat still on his head, he checked on his heart…& it was still dissatisfied & empty. [Farmers Insurance Stag(male deer) Pool Party]
    9. How many in Solomon’s court wondered daily, I wish I was in his shoes?
      1. Yet Solomon wrote in Proverbs 14:13 Laughter can conceal a heavy heart,
      2. but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. nlt
    10. If you live for pleasure alone, enjoyment will decrease unless the intensity of the pleasure increases.
      1. You reach a point when there is little or no enjoyment at all, only bondage.
      2. Eg: the more that people drink, the less enjoyment they get out of it. This means they must have more drinks and stronger drinks in order to have pleasure; the sad result is desire without satisfaction.
        1. Instead of alcohol just substitute: drugs, gambling, sex, money, fame, or any other pursuit, and the principle stays the same.
    11. When pleasure alone is the center of life, the result will ultimately be disappointment and emptiness.
    12. WORKS (4-6)
    13. Next Solomon got involved in all sorts of projects.
      1. It seems like in High School & College age is often a time where there’s a whole lot of the sowing of wild oats as they say, or testing of the sensual pleasures.
      2. Next it’s Work. What name can I make for myself? What can I leave with my name on it? A business? A record, most sales in my territory?
    14. Some of Solomon projects were: the Temple project, one of the greatest buildings in the ancient world (took 7 yrs to build). And his own house, took 13 yrs to build, 1 Kings 7:1. And Cities he built see 2 Chron.8:4-6. Thus, gardens; vineyards; orchards; forests; & the watering systems were needed to serve them.
      1. Basically Harry & David fruit baskets were delivered to him daily.
    15. WORKERS (7a)
    16. He had 2 types of workers: Those purchased (slaves) & those born in his household.
    17. He also drafted 30,000 as a labor force, Jewish men to work on his various projects see
      1. Kings 5:13-17. (people weren’t happy with this see later)
    18. Some think...Maybe if I have many employees working under me/for me, that will bring me satisfaction/power/control.
    19. WEALTH (7b-9)
    20. Herds & Flocks – 1 Kings 8:63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.
    21. Gold & Silver – 1 Kings 10:1,21 The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was talents of gold...All King Solomon's drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon.
      1. Someone said, Any problem that can be solved with money isn't a problem. It's an expense.
    22. Live entertainment – Performing for a king would be only your best performance.
      1. Your life depended on it…literally.
    23. Entertainment does have its place: Watching the news; a round of golf; a bike ride; a run; feed the ducks; or watching a decent movie, can all be healthy forms of escape, but it must be kept in mind it only helps us to escape life temporarily.
      1. Our bodies nor our minds were made to be on all the time. We need physical rest, emotional rest, mental rest.
    24. TOTAL INDULGENCE (10)
    25. (10) Solomon Delighted in these things, but not afterward. They didn’t last.
      1. ​​​​​​​The journey was a pleasure but the destination brought pain.
      2. So even with...Spotify pumping on his surround system throughout his palace. Temecula winery in his backyard. Pechanga performers stopping by. It wasn’t enough.
    26. Let’s let Jesus have the last word on this section. Read Luke 12:13-21
  3. CONCLUSIONS (11-26)
    1. ​​​​​​​THE BITTER TRUTH (11-23) then, THE BETTER TRUTH (24-26)
    2. (11) Smokey Robinson sang it best, The tears of a clown, when no one’s around. [i.e. wearing a painted smile on our face or behind our mask, while dying on the inside]
    3. Work in itself is good – Adam was given work to do b4 the fall. Yet work alone cannot satisfy the human heart.
      1. Vance Havner asked a preacher, "How are you getting along?" He said, "We are living in idolatry - just sitting around admiring our new church.We have arrived; we have it made - no more worlds to conquer. What ought to be a milestone has become a millstone. We have run out of goals.”
    4. Now he considers wisdom & wealth in the light of the certainty of death.
      1. What good is it to be wise & wealthy if your going to die & leave it all behind?
    5. WISDOM (12-17)
    6. If both wise men & fools die…what’s the value of wisdom?
      1. Well, you can leave our wisdom for the guidance of the next generation.
    7. (13) The difference between wisdom & folly is day & night.
    8. (17) I hated Life – not that Solomon was thinking about suicide (for he wanted to escape death)
      1. The French Humanist Voltaire said, I hate life and yet I am afraid to die. Solomon would agree.
      2. Great men of God have wanted to die (Job, Elijah, Moses, Jonah) but note...they each changed their minds.
    9. The Christian should Love Life – 1 Pet. 3:10 He who would love life and see good days, Let him…
      1. Seek to put the most into life & get the most out of it to the glory of God.
    10. WEALTH (18-23)
    11. He also hated his acquired wealth...why? 3 reasons…
    12. YOU CAN’T KEEP IT (18)
      1. Like the Rich Fool in Lk.12:13-21
      2. Jewish proverb, There is no pockets in a shroud.
      3. A writer in The Wall Street Journal called money, an article which may be used as a universal passport to everywhere except heaven, and as a universal provider of everything except happiness.
    13. YOU CAN’T PROTECT IT (19-20)
      1. Good concern because Rehoboam did exactly that (1 kings 11:41-12:24).
        1. When he took over he received wisdom from the elders (basically serve & love your people). Refused that & choose his young friend’s counsel (you think my dad’s hand was heavy, wait till you feel mine. Dad used a whip, I’m using a scourge w/barbs)
      2. He basically tore down everything his dad had built up.
    14. YOU CAN’T ENJOY IT AS WE SHOULD (21-23)
      1. Even in the night his heart takes no rest – it’s worrying & fretting over your business. Can’t sleep. Figuring it all out in your mind.
    15. So, what is the use of labor...I’m just going to die?
      1. Paul answers, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor.15:58
    16. THE BETTER TRUTH (24-26)
    17. (24-26) This is the 1st of 6 conclusions in Eccl.
      1. Each emphasizes the importance of: [1] Accepting life as Gods Gift [2] Enjoying it in God’s will.
      2. Solomon was not promoting, eat, drink, & be merry, for tomorrow you die (That is fatalism not faith). Rather he is saying, Thank God for what you do have, & enjoy it to the Glory of God.
      3. Wiersbe, If you rejoice in the gifts & not the Giver, we are ungrateful idolaters.
    18. (24) Note: It’s not only on the blessings themselves that come from the hand of God, but also on the enjoyment of the blessings.
    19. (26c) - Fanny Crosby one of the greatest hymn writers of all time. Blind almost from birth, she lived to be 95 years old. When she was only 8 years old she wrote this couplet: Oh, what a happy child I am, Although I cannot see. I am resolved that in this world, Contented I will be. How many blessings I enjoy, That other people don't.To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot and I won't.
    20. ​​​​​​​Now I’ll give John Candy the final word...Remember the movie Cool Runnings? It’s about the first Jamaican bobsled team to go to the Olympics. John Candy plays a former American gold medalist who becomes a coach to the Jamaican team. The players grow to like the American coach and affectionately dub him "Sled-god."
      Later in the story, the coach's dark history comes out. In an Olympics following his gold medal performance, he broke the rules by weighting the U.S. sled, bringing disgrace on himself and his team. Listen to his conversation with derice asking him why he’d cheat after winning 2 gold medals.
      1. If you are not enough without it (a gold medal), you’ll never be enough with it.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 2". "Bell's Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/ecclesiastes-2.html. 2017.
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