Ecclesiastes 2: Bible Study Guide.

21-BSG-2A: WORSHIP GUIDE.

A Worship Guide corresponding with the today’s Bible Reading Plan: Ecclesiastes 2/ Theme: Worldly Pleasure and Gratification/ 21-BSG-2A, (Ecclesiastes 2:1)/ Hymn: “Earthly pleasures vainly call me; I would be like Jesus” (SDAH 311)

EXPLORATION: Earthly Pleasure and Vanity of Sensual Happiness – (Eccl. 2:1, 10-11; Pr. 23:5; Jam 4:14).

REFLECTION: The message of Ecclesiastes 2:1-3 is very simple: Earthly pleasure fails to fully satisfy the human heart! The wicked seeks for happiness in worldly pleasures – entertainment, sex, alcohol, drugs, sports, movies, video games, etc. Solomon’s conclusion was this: Is All Vanity. It proved meaningless—not satisfying, lasting, or enduring. “I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:1, ESV). Solomon sought pleasure through entertainment and laughter: this too was foolish and unfulfilling; also through wine (alcohol, drugs) and sensual indulgence: again this too was folly—a foolish, fleshly, frivolous, wasted lifestyle—especially while seeking wisdom (v. 2).

DEVOTIONAL IMPLICATION: Pleasure is a powerful thing! Many people have fallen in pursuit of it. Tragically, even among ministers – those dedicated/ set aside for God’s work – some have sacrificed everything of value on the altar of pleasure: adultery, wine, drugs, etc. Pleasure is a poisonous thing. Indeed it is sweet to the taste, but it is deadly in its effect. Beware of it, preacher! Beware of it, believer! Beware of it “remnants”- watchers of Zion’s wall. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:2–3, NKJV)

THE GOSPEL’S VOICE: This section is written as if God were speaking directly to you—Because He does. What does the Lord say to me this morning? My son, true pleasure is found in the things of God: in knowing and obeying Me. Stay away from Earthly pleasure! Earthly pleasure is dangerous: it is a “pleasure of sin for a season,” but in the end, it brings forth death — “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV) I am inviting You to abide in Me, to keep My commandments and I will satisfy your soul (Psalm 23:1-3; 16:11) and give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

MY DESIRE: By God’s grace, I want to seek for happiness and true pleasure found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have A Blessed Day: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV)

21-BSG-2B: PRAYER GUIDE.

A Prayer Guide corresponding with the today’s Bible Reading Plan: Ecclesiastes 2/ Theme: Worldly Pleasure/ 21-BSG-2B, (Ecclesiastes 2:1)/ Hymn: “Now, dear Lord, as we pray, Take our hearts and minds far away” (SDAH 671)

Focus: Don’t let worldly pleasure, materialism and indulgence distract you from the things of God.

Key Text: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.” (Luke 21:34, NKJV)

Opening Remarks: Ecclesiastes 2 continues the theme of Ecclesiastes 1. Solomon is lamenting the vanity and vexation of life. Nothing satisfies. “It is the lament of a person without Jesus Christ. It is the lamenting of a person who only sees this life and not eternal life.” (John G. Butler). “Jesus told his followers to be careful and not let the temptations or worries of this life distract them from watching and being ready for his return. (See Luke 12:13–31, 35–48; 17:26–37 where Jesus warned against materialism and indulgence.) That day will come unexpectedly, and it will come upon everyone—no exceptions. There will be no opportunity for last-minute repentance or bargaining. The choice that each person has already made will determine his or her eternal destiny.” [Bruce B. Barton, David Veerman, Linda Chaffee Taylor, and Grant R. Osborne, Luke, Life Application Bible Commentary, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1997), 484].

As we come to the today’s Prayer Session, would you ask the Lord to help you overcome the temptations for worldly pleasure, materialism and indulgence? Instead, can you commit to God and focus ‘on the things above’ (the Lord Jesus) and the necessary preparations urgently needed for His soon return?

Values To Build On: Faith, Prayer, Trust, Seeking first the kingdom of God and His Righteousness.

Sins To Avoid/ Confess: Failure to acknowledge the emptiness in all of lives (without Jesus Christ –John 10:10); Materialism: striving to ‘gain the whole world” while losing own souls (Mark 8:36); Trusting in what the world has to offer.

Something To Thank God For: “The hand of God”–Providence (2:24); “God gives Wisdom and Knowledge and Joy to a man who is good in His sight” (2:26); to the sinner, God gives “the work of gathering and collecting” — that he may give to him who is good before God. (2:26).

People To Pray For: Pray for all people (especially the wicked) to be saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim 2:4); Pray for all those preoccupied with the things of this World: to be converted and get ready for Christ’s return soon.

Issues To Pray For: Pray for Bible Study Guide on Ecclesiastes (preparation, study, and salvation); Addiction (alcoholism/ drugs); Preparation for Death and Dying; True happiness of the Righteous; Victory over worldly pleasure, materialism and self-indulgence; An understanding that all human accomplishments and wisdom are useless, vain, transitory (apart from the Lord Jesus Christ).

Today’s Promise: “Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16, NKJV) “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV)

 ACTION STEP: Take a moment to pray, confess and repent of the sins listed above. If you have a Prayer Request(s), kindly write it below and someone will pray for it.

PRAYER: Now, dear Lord, as we pray, take our hearts and minds far away; from the press of the world all around, to Your Throne where grace does abound. May our lives be transformed by Your love. May our souls be refreshed from above. At this moment, let people everywhere, join us now as we come to You in prayer.  Amen.

Ecclesiastes 2: Bible Study Guide.

21-BSG-2C: CHAPTER OVERVIEW.

Characters: God, Solomon/ Key Word: Vanity, Eccl. 2:1/ Sticking Verses: Eccl. 2:1-3, 4-8, 9, 10-11, 12-14, 15, 16, 17, 18-22, 24-26

ISSUES AT A GLANCE: Worldly Amusements and Pleasures; Vanity: Worldly Pleasure and Gratification; Solomon’s Resume/ Building Projects.

ISSUES FOR FURTHER STUDY: Materialism as an aspect of sin; Nature and purpose of Leisure; Self-indulgence; Ungodly use of riches; Afflictions of the Wicked;

21-BSG-2D: CHAPTER INTRODUCTION.

2:1–26/ In ch. 2, the author considers three areas of life: pleasure and wealth (vv. 1–11), wisdom (vv. 12–17), and work (vv. 18–23). He concludes that all of these are senseless.

2:1–11/ In this section, the author examines the value of pleasure and wealth. In his attempt to examine all of life for value, he withholds nothing from himself by adding many possessions and pleasures. He concludes that pleasure itself is the only reward, and that it adds no gain.

2:18–24/ In this section, the author laments the fact that all of the fruits of his labor will be left to the enjoyment of someone who did not earn them and may not be worthy of them.

2:24–26/ The author finishes his examination of pleasure, wisdom, and work (vv. 1–26). He finds none of these things satisfactory, so he concludes by encouraging people to find enjoyment in life (see note on 9:7–10). [John D. Barry, Faithlife Study Bible, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ec 2:1–26].

21-BSG-2E: TEACHING OUTLINE.

THE VANITY OF DESIRE/ DELIGHT:

  1. The vanity of Pleasure (2:1–2)
  2. The vanity of Alcohol (2:3)
  3. The vanity of Great Building Projects (2:4a)
  4. The vanity of Great Plantations: Vineyards (2:4b)
  5. The vanity of Great Beautiful Parks with Exotic Trees (2:5–6)
  6. The vanity of Accumulation of Possessions, including:
    1. Human slaves (2:7a)
    1. Herds and flocks (2:7b)
    1. Silver and gold (2:8a)
    1. Gifted musicians (2:8b)
    1. Beautiful wives/ concubines (2:8c)
    1. A universal reputation (2:9)
    1. Total indulgence (2:10)

THE VANITY OF DEATH:

  1. The Vanity of Equivalence (2:12–17)
  2. The Vanity of Enrichments (2:18–23)

THE VANITY OF DECISION:

  1. Degradation in the Decision (2:24)
  2. Deity in the Decision (2:24, 26)
  3. Deference in the Decision (2:25)
  4. Distribution in the Decision (2:26)
  5. Disappointment in the Decision (2:26)

21-BSG-2J: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.

SEEING WHAT’S THERE.

[1] What is the main content of this chapter? Solomon’s experiment with earthly pleasure (Eccl. 2:1–11). The author turns from that which ministers to “the pride of life” and experiments with those things which minister to “the lusts of the flesh” and to “the lusts of the eyes.”

Then he gives his verdict upon his experiments: “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.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11, NKJV)

[2] What does the chapter say about God? (see 4 below)

CAPTURE THE ESSENCE:

[3] How many times is God mentioned by name in this chapter? Three times.

[4] What information is given about Him? The author is amazed at “the hand of God” (2:24); “God gives Wisdom and Knowledge and Joy to a man who is good in His sight” (2:26); to the sinner, God gives “the work of gathering and collecting” — that he may give to him who is good before God. (2:26).

[5] Can you give a brief summary of Solomon’s resume? (2:5-10)

  • Great building projects (5a).
  • Great public works and services (5b).
  • Great engineering feats (6a-b)
  • Servants, slaves, or employees, (7a).
  • Property, farms, and ranches (7b).
  • Wealth and treasures (8a).
  • Music and the Arts (8b).
  • Unrestricted sex—a harem of beautiful women (8c).
  • Fame, honor, and greatness (9a-b).
  • Countless possessions (10a).
  • Unrestricted pleasure (10b).
  • Enjoyment of his own work (10c).

[6] Why did the teacher consider madness and folly? (2:12) “The Teacher intended to explore everything under the sun (v. 11). He determined to consider all options—to leave no stone unturned in his search for meaning. If he could not find life’s purpose in the highest forms of wisdom, he would consider the other extremes—folly and even insanity. His conclusion: life’s meaning is found in neither wisdom nor insanity.” (NIV Quest Study Bible).

21-BSG-2K: DISCUSSION QUESTIONS.

TO THINK ABOUT AND DISCUSS:

In this chapter, what are the best verses that show the author’s faith in God?

In this chapter, what aspects of life does the author explore in order to find true meaning in life?

Why is it that earthly pleasure fail to fully satisfy the human heart? If you have money and you can get all worldly pleasures you want -entertainment, sex, alcohol, drugs, sports, movies, etc. Why is it that at the end, when all have been said and done, you will not find true happiness?

FOR FURTHER STUDY:

Clearly Solomon’s Resume is outstanding! However, his pursuits and the accomplishments did not attain him happiness! Why? What conclusions can you make from verses 17-26 about the right perspectives to have about our work?

From what you see in verses 24-26, summarize the most significant perspectives this passage offers about God as well as the most important things it says about us.

Look again at verses 24-26, then compare them with the New Testament teaching in 1 Cor 10:31 and Col 3:17. Would you say these passages all agree with one another? Why or why not?

FOR SELF-EXAMINATION:

The Preacher is a child of the narrow way. He turns from sense to sensuality and finds it senseless! Look up some biblical examples of this (1 Sam. 27–31; Luke 15:11–32), and note the Bible’s warning (2 Tim. 3:1–9; James 4:1–6). What other examples can you think of?

Note the number of times the word ‘I’ occurs in this passage. Compare this with the attitude and teaching of Jesus (Phil. 2:5–11; Mark 8:34–38) and Paul (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:1–11).

FOR LIFE TODAY:

What are the things you most enjoy? How can you glorify God in them (1 Cor. 10:31)?

Can you identify a point where God-given pleasures can become sin (Luke 18:18–23)?

What guidelines might be applicable to Christians in engaging in what may be considered debatable practices such as drinking wine?

PERSONAL IMPLICATIONS: What response do you think this chapter should inspires us to do? Take time to reflect on the implications of Ecclesiastes 2 for your own life today. Consider what you have learned that might lead you to praise God, repent of sin, and trust in His gracious promises. What can you share on the personal implications for your walk with the Lord? How can your experience help others as well?

21-BSG-2Y: NIGHT DEVOTION.

A Night Though corresponding with the today’s Bible Reading Plan: Ecclesiastes 2/ Theme: Worldly Pleasure and Gratification/ 21-BSG-2Y, (Ecclesiastes 2:1)/ Key Text: “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.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11, NKJV)/ Hymn: “Earthly pleasures vainly call me; I would be like Jesus” (SDAH 311)

EXPLORATION: Vanity of Sensual Happiness – (Eccl. 2:1, 10-11; Pr. 23:5; Jam 4:14).

REFLECTION: Solomon tried to find the meaning of life through many things. He traveled down many roads in his quest for joy, pleasure, peace and purpose in life. This includes: pleasure (2:1–2); alcohol (2:3); great building projects (2:4a); the planting of vineyards (2:4b); the creation of beautiful parks with exotic trees (2:5–6). Furthermore, he accumulated many possessions including: human slaves (2:7a); herds and flocks (2:7b); silver and gold (2:8a); gifted musicians (2:8b); beautiful wives/ concubines (2:8c); a universal reputation (2:9); total indulgence (2:10)

The King’s Conclusions: In the end he had the ‘Bitter Truth’ (2:11–23) and the “Better Truth.” The Bitter Truth: Solomon concluded that ‘everything is useless and empty’ (2:11); that no matter who/ what you are, “everyone must eventually die” (2:12–16). In this inquiry, he also realizes that, in most instances, the achievements of good men are left to fools (2:17–23). The Better Truth: Be content with what God has given/ allow you to have, and enjoy your life! (2:24–26).

DEVOTIONAL IMPLICATION: “Through the generations, multitudes of us have fallen into the same trap Solomon did. We focus far more on the things under the sun than above it. Far too often, God is lost in the shuffle as we try to handle and schedule the demands made upon us. We must learn to live as Jesus admonished us in the book of Matthew. We worry too much about what we will eat, what we will drink, and what we will wear—those things pertaining only to life under the sun. Jesus told us the key to having all these things:

“… For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:32–33).

 Our first priority should be the things of God. When we put Him first, He promises to provide all that we need. He also promises to give us the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:4). We should be focused on the things of God, not the things of the world. When He is our top priority, God promises to take care of the rest—and in Him we find the greatest treasure of all: the true meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment that we all desperately seek.” [Leadership Ministries Worldwide, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 2011), 54].

Have A Good Night: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4, NKJV)