Ecclesiastes 2:1–11 (NKJV)
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” 3 I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.
4 I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. 7 I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.
9 So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.
Solomon begins to discuss the various things he has experienced in an effort to find meaning. He begins with pleasure and laughter, and characterizes them as madness and vanity. He tried to gratify his flesh with wine and folly, but they did not show him what was good for the sons of men. Solomon built houses, planted vineyards, gardens, orchards, made water pools, acquired servants, flocks, and herds. He gathered silver and gold and other special treasures from kings. He had male and female singers, the very best, and musical instruments. He made himself great among all the people of Israel in Jerusalem. His maintained his wisdom in the midst of all this futility. Solomon did not deny himself anything that he desired. The labor of this experiment actually brought his heart pleasure. But once the work had been completed, he took a long look at the product of his work, and found no profit in it.
Most of the friends I know that have a hobby of restoring classic automobiles really enjoy the work. They deal with the busted knuckles and the cuts, the sore back, the smashed fingers. They really love the process, and it brings them joy to see the stages of development of the project. When it is complete, there is a sense of pride in the accomplishment. However, it is short-lived, as they then begin to look for the next project. Will it be a coupe or a sedan; a car or a truck? What year am I interested in restoring? While a hobby is fun and can be relaxing and temporarily fulfilling, it is not an eternal fulfillment, just like all the other things Solomon writes about here. The only eternal fulfillment, the only ongoing fulfillment, is found in God. Seek Him, Find Him, Live in Him!