Who speaks this verse?
“I, a preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.” (Ecclesiastes 1:12)
*Hence it’s commonly accepted that it must have been ‘king Solomon’ (son of king David himself).
Chasing the wind?
“So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 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. 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.” (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11)
What kind of ‘pleasures’ did he ‘experience’?
(i) Wine (alcoholic drinks)
“I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.” (Ecclesiastes 2:3)
(ii) Built an Empire of physical houses & material possessions with farms too
“I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees;” (Ecclesiastes 2:4 – 5)
(iii) Beauty of nature too
“I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees.” (Ecclesiastes 2:6)
(iv) Had slaves and servants to do ‘all the work’
“I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves…” (Ecclesiastes 2:7 – first part)
(v) Owned animals too
“…Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem.” (Ecclesiastes 2:7 – second part)
(vi) Had plenty of “silver & gold” (wealth or ‘money’)
“Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces…” (Ecclesiastes 2:8 – first part)
(vii) Had plenty of ‘singing entertainers’
“…I provided for myself male and female singers…” (Ecclesiastes 2:8 – middle part)
(viii) Had many “concubines” (or a ‘harem’ –> the Hebrew word here means ‘something like this’ but difficult to determine its exact meaning).
“… and the pleasures of men—many concubines.” (Ecclesiastes 2:8 – last part)
(ix) Became great (in Name) and the things which he had increased too
“Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem…” (Ecclesiastes 2:9 – first part)
(x) His wisdom remained with him (never taken away even “if” he transgressed too)
“…My wisdom also stood by me.” (Ecclesiastes 2:9 – second part)
(xi) Whatever “his eyes desired” or any “pleasure”, he did ‘not’ refuse it
“All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. ” (Ecclesiastes 2:10)
(xii) But yet even after having “experienced” all these (which most men are after too but only attain parts of it) —> yet it is “all vanity”:
“Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
The Reason: “Missing God”.
(xiii) Yes, “he” (the preacher) did “test” all these things —> to see what it can —> “accomplish” (without God) as this verse states too:
“I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” (Ecclesiastes 2:1 – 2)
Summary: There is “never” full pleasure nor meaning in anything done except if it is “done in God only” (in accordance to His Will, ‘rightly or correctly’) as this ancient conclusion ever whispers its undying truth:
“For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:26)