The Vanity of Pleasure

Reading the Word

Ecclesiastes 2:1–11 (ESV)
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.
2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”
3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.
4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself.
5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees.
6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.
7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.
8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In today’s reading, Solomon explored whether pleasure-seeking could give his life the meaning he was looking for. Solomon would be the person to answer this question because, as king, he had great power, wealth, and many wives. What was his answer? He tells us that he set out to find fulfillment in pleasure, but concluded “all was vanity and a striving after the wind.”

The pursuit of pleasure may be the most common way people attempt to find fulfillment in life. Yet, as Solomon found, pleasure-seeking is fleeting and temporary and leaves us empty. Eventually, the pleasure goes away and we need more. Whatever gives us the initial joy ultimately fades or goes away and we need something else. It is truly a striving after the wind.

Augustine once said, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.” We are God’s creation and his image-bearers. We were created to have an intimate relationship with our Maker. We can try to find satisfaction and fulfillment in many ways and with many things, but nothing will satisfy except a deep relationship with God. Have you sought him?

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