Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:26 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Utterly Meaningless
Comments for Study 2

Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:26
Memory Verse: 1:14

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I. What a Heavy Burden God Has Laid on Men (1:12-18)

>1. As king over Israel at this time what could Solomon do? (12)

* Ecclesiastes 1:12 "I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem."

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>When he studied all that is done under heaven what did he find? (13)

* Ecclesiastes 1:13 "I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men!"

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>What does it mean "a chasing after the wind"?

* Ecclesiastes 1:14 "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

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>2. Does verse 15 accurately portray man's society and government?

* Ecclesiastes 1:15 "What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted."

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>Is there anyway to undo words and actions?

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>3. How is Solomon's reign described in verse 16?

* Ecclesiastes 1:16 "I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge."

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>Is wisdom or ignorance bliss? (17)

* Ecclesiastes 1:17 "Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind."

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>How is what verse 18 says about wisdom and knowledge true?

* Ecclesiastes 1:18 "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief."

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II. Pleasures Are Meaningless (2:1-11)

>4. How is the pursuit of pleasure meaningless? (1)

* Ecclesiastes 2:1 "I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless."

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>Are comedians happy and content people? (2)

* Ecclesiastes 2:2 "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?""

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>What has Solomon attempting to do? (3)

* Ecclesiastes 2:3 "I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives."

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>5. What has Solomon's palace like? (4-6; and 1 Kings 7:1-12)

* Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 "I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees."

* 1 Kings 7:1-3 "It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace. He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon a hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high, with four rows of cedar columns supporting trimmed cedar beams. It was roofed with cedar above the beams that rested on the columns--forty-five beams, fifteen to a row."

* 1 Kings 7:6 "He made a colonnade fifty cubits long and thirty wide. In front of it was a portico, and in front of that were pillars and an overhanging roof."

* 1 Kings 7:9 All these structures, from the outside to the great courtyard and from foundation to eaves, were made of blocks of high-grade stone cut to size and trimmed with a saw on their inner and outer faces."

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>What else did Solomon acquire? (7-9)

* Ecclesiastes 2:7-9 "I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well--the delights of the heart of man. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me."

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>What was he seeking in acquiring all this?

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>6. What he gain from hard word? (10)

* Ecclesiastes 2:10 "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor."

* Proverbs 27:20 "Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man."

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>Was it enough? (11)

* Ecclesiastes 2:11 "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."

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>Why doesn't material possessions satisfy our soul?

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III. Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless (2:12-16)

>7. Can even the powerful and rich stand alone? (12)

* Ecclesiastes 2:12 "Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?"

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>What did Solomon discover concerning wisdom and folly?

* Ecclesiastes 2:13 "I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness."

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>How is wisdom better than follY? (14; Proverbs 3:13-14, 9:10)

* Ecclesiastes 2:14 "The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both."

* Proverbs 3:13-14 "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold."

* Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."

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>8. What did Solomon realize in verse 15? (Proverbs 1:7)

* Ecclesiastes 2:15 "Then I thought in my heart, "The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?" I said in my heart, "This too is meaningless."

* Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."

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>Can wisdom or folly save us from death? (16)

* Ecclesiastes 2:16 "For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die!"

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>How can we be saved from death? (Acts 4:8-12; Eph. 1:13-14)

* Acts 4:8-12 "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone'. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

* Ephesians 1:13-14 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory."

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IV. Toil is Meaningless (2:17-26)

>9. Why did Solomon begin to despair? (17-20)

* Ecclesiastes 2:17-20 "So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun."

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>After we die can what happens to all our work? (21-23)

* Ecclesiastes 2:21-23 "For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless."

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>10. Where does the best in life come from? (24; Phil. 4:12-13)

* Ecclesiastes 2:24 "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,"

* Philippians 4:12-13 "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

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>What should all acknowledge? (25)

* Ecclesiastes 2:25 "for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?"

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>By what does God give to us? (26; Matt. 6:28-34)

* Ecclesiastes 2:26 "To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

* Matthew 6:28-34 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

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