Pleasure does not bring happiness
1 Then I said to myself, “Okay, I will try to do everything that I enjoy. I will find out whether doing what I enjoy can truly enable me to be happy.” But I found out that doing that was also useless/senseless. 2 So I said to myself, “It is foolish to laugh all the time, and continually doing what I enjoy does not seem to bring any lasting benefit.” 3 So, after thinking a lot about it, I decided to ◄cheer myself/cause myself to be happy► by drinking a lot of wine. So while I was still trying to be wise, I decided to do things that many people do to be happy during the short time that they are alive on the earth. 4 I did great things: I caused houses to be built for myself and vineyards to be planted. 5 I told my workers to make gardens and parks. Then I told them to fill the gardens with many kinds of fruit trees. 6 I told them to build reservoirs to store water to irrigate the fruit trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and babies who later became my slaves were born in my palace. I also owned more livestock than any of the previous kings in Jerusalem had owned. 8 I also accumulated large amounts of silver and gold that were paid to me from the treasures of kings and rulers of provinces. I hired men and women to sing for me, and I had many ◄concubines/slave wives► who gave me much pleasure [EUP]. 9 So, I became greater than anyone else who had ever lived in Jerusalem, and I was very wise.
10 I got everything [LIT] that I [SYN] saw and wanted.
I did everything [LIT] that I thought would enable me to be happy.
All those things that I [SYN] enjoyed were like a reward for all my hard work.
11 But then I thought about all the hard work that I [SYN] had done to get all those things,
and none of it seems to bring any lasting benefit [DOU].
It was all like chasing the wind.
Being wise also seemed useless
12 Then I started to think about being wise, and also about being foolish [DOU].
I said to myself, “I certainly do not think that [RHQ] the next king will be able to do anything better than I can.”
13 And I thought, “Surely it is better to be wise than to be foolish,
like light is better than darkness,
14 because wise people walk in the daylight and [IDM] can see where they are going,
but foolish people walk in the darkness and cannot see where they are going.”
But I also realized that both wise people and foolish people eventually die.
15 So I said to myself,
“I am very wise, but I will die at the end of my life, like foolish people do.
So ◄how has it benefited me to be very wise?/it certainly has not benefited me to be very wise [RHQ]►.
I do not understand why people consider that it is valuable to be wise.
16 Wise people and foolish people all die.
And after we die, we will all eventually be forgotten [DOU].”
17 So I hated being alive, because everything that we do here on the earth [MTY] distresses me. It all seems to be useless like chasing the wind.
Working hard seemed useless
18 I also began to hate all the hard work that I had done, because when I die, everything that I have acquired will belong to the next king. 19 And ◄who/no one► knows [RHQ] whether he will be wise or whether he will be foolish. But even if he is foolish, he will acquire all the things that I worked very hard and wisely to get. 20 I thought about all the hard work that I had done. It seemed useless, and I became depressed/discouraged. 21 Some people work wisely and skillfully, using the things that they have learned. But when they die, they leave everything, and someone who has not worked hard acquires those things. And that also seemed to be senseless and caused me to be discouraged. 22 So, it seems that people do not [RHQ] get much for all the hard work that they do and for worrying. 23 Every day the work that they do causes them to experience pain and to be worried. And during the night, their minds are not able to rest. That also is very frustrating.
24 So I decided that the best thing that we can do is to enjoy what we eat and drink, and also enjoy our work. And I realized that those things are what God intends for us. 25 There is absolutely no one [RHQ] who is able to enjoy those things if God does not give those things to him. 26 God enables those who please him to be wise, to know many things, and to enjoy many things. But if sinful people work hard and become rich, God can take their money away from them and give it to those who please him. But that also is something that is difficult for me to understand. Their working hard seems useless, like chasing the wind.