The Futility of All Endeavor

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

What advantage does man have in all his work
Which he does under the sun?

A generation goes and a generation comes,
But the earth remains forever.

Also, the sun rises and the sun sets;
And hastening to its place it rises there again.

Blowing toward the south,
Then turning toward the north,
The wind continues swirling along;
And on its circular courses the wind returns.

All the rivers flow into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
There they flow again.

All things are wearisome;
Man is not able to tell it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor is the ear filled with hearing.

That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.

There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come later still.

The Futility of Wisdom

I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

Ecclesiastes 1


  1. The book of Ecclesiastes end with these verses;

    “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

  2. Thanks for sharing that. I’ve quoted Eccleiastes many times in my talks about the 4T, but never took the time to pull up the first book.

    It’s true, we are all specks of dust on a journey that other specks of dust have traveled. All the mistakes of the past will be remade, without anyone ever knowing why.

    What is most important is that we appreciate what makes life worth living — the joy of family, work that gives us a sense of achievement, doing well by our fellow man (or at least doing no evil). Nothing else matters, really… the cars, homes, vacations, gadgets, sports teams — all that is merely temptation to waste time and effort along the way.

  3. Final point before I leave.

    As usual, I will offer an opinion that is contrary to the accepted one.

    I think it is an error to thing that The Preacher (probably not actually King Solomon) is talking about the pointlessness of our endeavors or that he has a cynical viewpoint of life.

    Au’ contraire!

    It could be titled “A Guidebook To Life For Dummies.” An old man takes account of his life and then gives his personal conclusions and suggestions for the future. Along the way, The Preacher contemplates the inconsistencies and injustices he observed in his lifetime and asks why and how.

    His answer is always the same: God is the ONLY one who knows the “why”.

    He concludes his “sermon” … not necessarily at the end of the book, but in the middle (Eccles. 5:19) by saying we must simply; 1) accept our lot in life, 2) and find enjoyment in our labors …. why? …. because these are the GIFT of God” (Eccles. 5:19).

    The Preacher is an old man with a lot of wisdom and a lot of life, which he enjoyed.

    So should you.

    I’m outta here.

  4. I love that book.

    I always thought that the vanity aspect was about doing things in the name of self, rather than to the glory of God and in celebrating creation. We’re a part of life, but it isn’t about us.

    Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time,
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

  5. Good one Stucky. You know – for a grouchy old curmudgeon you show some pretty impressive insight. 🙂


  6. “Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.”

    A fitting verse for many TBPers. This guy knew about doom a few thousand years ago, in the style of his days.


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