Useful Bible Studies > Ecclesiastes Commentary > chapter 2

Can a personís efforts achieve anything that lasts?

Ecclesiastes 2:17-21

Solomon had wanted to find a better way to live, by his careful study of this world. But this world and its wisdom disappointed Solomon. Neither wise nor foolish behaviour had taught Solomon a better way to live. These things had only taught him that he must certainly die!

Solomon does not say whether he felt any fear of death. His fear was of the things that would happen after his death.

A person works hard to earn his wages. It upsets him if he loses any part of them. Solomon had worked hard but, at death, he would lose everything. That might not matter if the new owner of those things used them wisely. But Solomon could not be sure about that.

We know from 1 Kings 12:1-19 that Solomonís son behaved in a very foolish manner. 1 Kings 14:25-28 tells how he lost much of his fatherís wealth.

What upset Solomon most was the loss of all his effort. He worked so hard because he wanted to achieve something during his life. But the things that he was achieving belong to this world. And nothing in this world lasts.

Jesus taught that people can achieve something permanent during their lives. But they will not achieve it by means of the wisdom that comes from this world. In other words, careful study, sensible thought and hard effort will not achieve permanent results. What we need is to have Godís wisdom. God gives us that wisdom by his word (the Bible). And unlike the wisdom that we can learn from this world, Godís wisdom will never disappoint us (see Matthew 7:24-25 and John 12:49-50).

Next part: Without God, can anyone have a good life? (Ecclesiastes 2:22-26)


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© 2019, Keith Simons.