Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:11New International Version (NIV)
Wisdom Is Meaningless
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
15 What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.”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.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
Pleasures Are Meaningless
2 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?”3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.7 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 male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart.9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. 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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