Ecclesiastes 2:1-26

Talks for Growing Christians

Futility of Wealth and Labor Under the Sun

Ecclesiastes 2:1-26

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Lesson Number 2

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Under the sun, pleasure and wealth lead to futility.
  2. Under the sun, life and labor lead to futility.

Practical Application

  1. Let’s look down on life and labor!


  1. What was the purpose of Solomon’s efforts and activities as described in verses 1-10?
  2. 2. What was Solomon’s conclusion regarding the pleasures and wealth in his life?
  3. Are the experiences and conclusions of Solomon applicable to those of us who not wealthy or seeking a life full of pleasures?
  4. In verse 18, and in verses 22 and 23, what is the message that Solomon has for those whose life is focused solely on worldly pursuits and success?


  1. The purpose of Solomon’s efforts and activities (vs 1-10) was not to pursue a hedonistic life style, but to carry out a planned and purposeful investigation and experiment regarding the real meaning of life. In these verses, Solomon was particularly considering the areas of pleasure and wealth.
  2. In spite of Solomon’s efforts to gratify his bodily desires (v 3), his achievements of building great gardens (vs 4-6), his possessions and utilization of many servants (v 7), his accumulation of wealth in the form of huge herds of animals (v 7), precious metals and talented entertainers (v 8), and his vaunted reputation and wisdom (v 9), his conclusion was that in all of these things, apart from God (“under the sun”), there is nothing but futility, vanity and lack of profitability (vs 11-14), even a despising of life itself (v 17).
  3. In verses 17-23, Solomon makes it clear that the lessons and truths that he had learned are applicable to all people. When anyone looks at life logically and recognizes that there are no guarantees that come with hard work and accumulation of wealth and understands the possibility that foolish or evil people may end up with the profits he has earned, he will come to the point of hating the life of worldly toil.
  4. In verses 18, 22 and 23, Solomon points out that a life of hard work does not necessarily bring longer life or better health or peace of mind. This truth applied to Solomon and it applies to everyone today.


  1. Discuss the advantages of learning these lessons about wealth and labor from Solomon rather than having to learn them through your own experiences. Consider the past worldly efforts in your own life that may have caused you to despise life. Discuss means you can employ to help you keep a divine perspective rather than a human perspective on wealth and labor.


  1. Are you looking down on life and labor, that is, are you considering your life and your labor from a divine perspective? When you are living a life that pleases God, you will find enjoyment in your life and purpose in your labor. The Lord will even use the hard work and toil of those who are unbelievers to benefit those who are putting Him first in their lives.

Key Verses

  • “Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to a man who will come after me.” Ecclesiastes 2:17-18

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