Reading Assignment: Ecclesiastes 2:12-26

Did you understand what you read?

  1. Why would Solomon consider foolishness? Give some examples of people who act as if foolishness is the purpose of life.
  2. How is wisdom better than foolishness?
  3. Why can't the pursuit of wisdom be the reason for living?
  4. What do you get for a life of hard work?
  5. Both playing and hard-work are shown to be useless. Being ignorant and striving after wisdom is useless as well. So is there no purpose to life because everything we can strive for is a vanity in the end?
  6. Is there a solution for those who wish to leave God out of their lives? Why or why not?


Solomon briefly discussed wisdom in Ecclesiastes 1:17-18. There he noted that increased wisdom brought increased sorrows, so maybe being ignorant would be better.

It is the ignorant who tend to believe there is no God (Psalms 53:1). They also laugh about the idea that certain actions are sins (Proverbs 14:9). Since they cannot recognize sin, they are easily lead to dangerous actions (Proverbs 7:6-27). They believe their own ways of doing things are the only correct way (Proverbs 28:26). Fools are constantly getting into fights or encouraging them (Proverbs 20:3). Ignorance leads its followers to destruction (Proverbs 1:20-33; 22:3). The simple are easily deceived, believing every word that they hear (Proverbs 14:15).

Obviously, wisdom is better than foolishness. At least the wise man knows what is happening to him. The ignorant stumble around in the darkness like a blind man.

However, while wisdom is better, it does not bestow any major advantage on those possessing it. Both the wise and the fool will die. Both will be forgotten after their deaths. Whatever profit a wise man gained during his life will be left to others and who knows what kind of people they will be. We can't control who will receive our hard-earned profits. Our heirs may be wise, but they could just as easily be fools. Notice that we are not just talking about physical possessions. The knowledge that we gain from years of study can be misused by those who come after us.

You work hard for something and then people who never put in any effort enjoy the benefits. While we live, we sweat and toil. We endure hardships and sorrows. Often our sleep is disturbed, worrying about our labors. Then we pass on and someone else enjoys the fruit of our labor.

What can we conclude from this? We are better off to just work enough to allow us to put food on our tables. Since we need to work, it might as well be at a job that we enjoy. This is God's gift to us. God gives us the strength to labor and he is the source of all wisdom and knowledge that allows us to do a good job and to enjoy life.

Of course, those who do not believe in God also labor but they end up benefiting the believer. Just about every believer benefits from an unbeliever. How many of us work for an unbeliever? Would we have a job, if it wasn't for them? How many unbelievers buy our goods with their hard-earned money? Strange, is it not?


  1. In Ecclesiastes 2:24, Solomon says that our food and enjoyment of labor are also from God. What else is from God that Solomon had in mind?
  2. In the lesson, I listed a number of verses showing the problems with ignorance. In the space below, list verses that describe the benefits of wisdom.
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