Ecclesiastes 1


1:1 The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem:

Introduction: Utter Futility

1:2 “Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher,

“Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!”

Futility Illustrated from Nature

1:3 What benefit do people get from all the effort

which they expend on earth?

1:4 A generation comes and a generation goes,

but the earth remains the same through the ages.

1:5 The sun rises and the sun sets;

it hurries away to a place from which it rises again.

1:6 The wind goes to the south and circles around to the north;

round and round the wind goes and on its rounds it returns.

1:7 All the streams flow into the sea, but the sea is not full,

and to the place where the streams flow, there they will flow again.

1:8 All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it:

The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing.

1:9 What exists now is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done;

there is nothing truly new on earth.

1:10 Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”?

It was already done long ago, before our time.

1:11 No one remembers the former events,

nor will anyone remember the events that are yet to happen;

they will not be remembered by the future generations.

Futility of Secular Accomplishment

1:12 I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.

1:13 I decided to carefully and thoroughly examine

all that has been accomplished on earth.

I concluded: God has given people a burdensome task

that keeps them occupied.

1:14 I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth,

and I concluded: Everything he has accomplished is futile – like chasing the wind!

1:15 What is bent cannot be straightened,

and what is missing cannot be supplied.

Futility of Secular Wisdom

1:16 I thought to myself,

“I have become much wiser than any of my predecessors who ruled over Jerusalem;

I have acquired much wisdom and knowledge.”

1:17 So I decided to discern the benefit of wisdom and knowledge over foolish behavior and ideas;

however, I concluded that even this endeavor is like trying to chase the wind!

1:18 For with great wisdom comes great frustration;

whoever increases his knowledge merely increases his heartache.