Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part III: Finding Lasting Fulfillment In View Of The Vanity Of This Life's Pleasures And Wealth
(Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 with 12:13-14)
  1. Introduction
    1. A need we human beings possess is the drive for alleviating physical hardships, pain and poverty.
    2. However, we all know of people who have succeeded in obliterating these needs only to remain so unhappy they may commit suicide. For example, Marin County north of San Francisco, California is the wealthiest county per capita in California, yet it also has the state highest suicide rate per capita.
    3. Genuine fulfillment in this life arises from something other than indulging in this life's pleasures and wealth as Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 and 12:13-14 reveal to us:
  2. Finding Lasting Fulfillment In View Of The Vanity Of This Life's Pleasures And Wealth.
    1. Having found futility in this life empirically considered alone ("under the sun") in evaluating life's endless cycles and human wisdom itself, Solomon turned his attention to seeking genuine, lasting fulfillment in pleasures and wealth, Ecclesiastes 2:1 in view of 1:1-11, 12-18.
    2. Now, if this life's pleasures and wealth could produce lasting fulfillment, Solomon of all men would have found it, for he was very wealthy and enjoyed great pleasures in life: when God blessed Solomon in his reign, the Lord added riches and honor unto Solomon unlike any king who lived in his time, 1 Kings 3:13.
    3. Yet, in all of his pleasures and wealth, Solomon found no genuine, lasting fulfillment, Ecclesiastes 2:2-11:
      1. Regarding indulgence in humor and laughter, Solomon found humor to be madness and indulgence in pleasure to be of no practical value, Ecclesiastes 2:2.
      2. Solomon then detailed his various indulgences in pleasures and wealth that brought him to this view:
        1. Solomon decided to study indulgence in pleasures and wealth by using wine to make him relax while letting his human wisdom guide him to evaluate folly along with pleasure and wealth and thus find what was wholesome for man to address of pleasure and wealth, Eccclesiastes 2:3.
        2. He then listed his areas of indulgence: (a) Solomon built large homes and planted vineyards, gardens and parks with fruit trees and built large pools to irrigate them, 2:4-6. (b) He bought male and female slaves and had slaves born in his palace to care for these works, 2:7a. (c) Also, Solomon owned more flocks and herds than anyone before him in Jerusalem, 2:7b. (d) He gathered silver and gold from the treasures of subject rulers, he collected male and female musicians and acquired 300 mistresses (besides his 700 wives, cf. 1 Kings 11:3) to indulge in pleasure, Eccles. 2:8 ESV, NIV.
        3. Consequently, Solomon admitted he became renowned, being greater than all who had predated him, and his wisdom remained with him in the process of all these acquisitions, Ecclesiastes 2:9.
        4. Indeed, Solomon secured for himself whatever he desired for pleasure and wealth, Eccles. 2:10.
      3. Nevertheless, after all of this indulgence, Solomon reflected to find that all was vanity and a striving after the wind, that there was no lasting, genuine fulfillment in it all, Ecclesiastes 2:11.
    4. In view of the failure of indulging in this life's pleasures and wealth to give lasting, genuine fulfillment, Solomon concluded his book with Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 as a summary lesson for us:
      1. Solomon ended Ecclesiastes with a moving summary that applies to each segment of his book, 12:13f.
      2. That lesson is the fact that any and all aspects of this life, when considered in full reveal this life is but a "stage where all the men and women are merely actors" to paraphrase William Shakespeare.
      3. In effect, this life is only a means to fulfilling God's will for us, a matter for which we will give an account at the end of this life, Eccl. 12:14a. (2 Cor. 5:10-11 for Christians; Rev. 20:11-15 for the lost).
      4. Since that Almighty Creator is righteous and not evil, we ought to respect God and our accountability to Him so as to overcome evil and live righteously as God wants us to live this life, Eccles. 12:14b.
Lesson: Since indulging in pleasures and wealth in this life brings NO lasting, genuine fulfillment, and since such lasting, genuine FULFILLMENT is found ONLY in DOING God's WILL, we must subject our indulgence in life's pleasures and wealth to doing God's will at ALL costs of pleasure and wealth!

Application: (1) If we SUBMIT indulging in this life's pleasures and wealth to heed God's Word (a) to trust in Christ as Savior (Acts 17:30; John 3:16) and (b) to disciple others for Him (Matthew 28:19-20), (2) ONLY THEN will we find true, lasting fulfillment as God's reward, Matthew 10:37-39.