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Sabbath School Lessons on Ecclesiastes
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 3: "All That My Eyes Desired" *
Introduction: Can you remember a time when you said to yourself, "I
just want to have some fun?" If so, how did you go about finding fun?
If you did not have fun, do you think being the richest fellow around
would make having fun a little easier? What if you could have
everything you desired? This week we follow King Solomon's thoughts
as he describes what he did to have fun, and how it all turned out.
Let's jump right into our study!
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:1. Is Solomon saying that he decided
that he would figure out how to have fun? (He says that he
will "test" his heart with pleasure to see if it is good.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:2. What does Solomon try first to have
some fun? (Laughter.)
- Is laughter something that you decide to do? Is it a
planned activity, or is it the result of having fun?
- Do you agree with Solomon that laughter is foolish
and accomplishes nothing?
- Let's look at some other texts in the Bible. Read Proverbs
17:22. Do you find that laughter makes your heart
- Read and compare Proverbs 14:13. What principle do
you find in comparing these two texts? (Laughter is
an external that might not change the underlying
condition of the heart. Your heart can still keep
aching even if you laugh.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 7:3. In what way can a sad face be
good for the heart?
- Or, is this text the direct opposite of Proverbs
- If so, which one seems more correct? (Read
Ecclesiastes 7:4. This adds more context
to Solomon's statement about a sad face
being "good for the heart." When you are
sad, you are serious. You consider life
more carefully. In that way a sad face can
be good for the heart.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 7:6. What does this mean? Is
Solomon saying laughter is good or bad in this text?
- How many of you know how to start a fire?
- Have you ever tried to start a fire with
- Imagine starting a fire with dried
thorns. How long would such a fire
last? (I think Solomon is saying that
if you start your fire with light
brush, it will burn, flare, and then
burn out. Nothing in your pot will
- So, what is his point about laughter?
(That it is just a quick, temporary,
insubstantial relief from the
problems in your life.)
- Read Luke 12:19-20. Are we foolish in God's eyes if
we are merry (in a mood to laugh)? (Read Luke 12:15.
Jesus' says the point of life is not what we own. The
related truth is that the point of life is not just
laughing and being merry.)
- Read James 4:7-10. "Celebration" churches are
controversial in some corners. I once read an article
that said we should come to church to be sober about
our sins and not to celebrate. I did not like that
article very well, but is it supported by James?
- Read Ecclesiastes 8:15. Has Solomon changed his mind?
James 4:8 speaks about the "double-minded," is that
Solomon with statements about laughter and gladness?
- What would you say is the overall teaching of the Bible on
laughter and being merry? (My daughter was commenting on
some young people she knew who were working in dead-end
jobs instead of going to school. Every weekend they would
party. The "goal" of their lives seemed to be the weekend
party. I think this is what Solomon and James are writing
about. True joy comes from getting your heart and your
life right. Once you have a right relationship with God,
then you can have joy and laughter without the underlying
heart ache. Laughter is no substitute for repentance.
Then, when you come to church you had better celebrate
what God has done to save you from your sins!)
- Wine and Folly
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:3. What does Solomon try next to have
fun? (Cheering himself with wine and embracing folly.)
- When he says that his mind was still being guided by
wisdom, what do you think he means?
- Is he saying that he is not being foolish with his
wine and his folly?
- Can you cheer yourself with wine and folly? (Solomon is
making the same point here as he was with laughter. These
are meaningless externals which cannot change the heart.
The weekend party crowd ultimately realize that getting
drunk and having fun for the moment is no substitute for a
life built on a Biblical foundation.)
- Building and Planting
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:4. How do you feel about building
- Does that give you pleasure?
- How about planting, do you enjoy planting?
- If so, why?
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:5-6. What does this involve, in
addition to planting and building?(Planning.)
- Would you enjoy doing this?
- Solomon could not find meaning in laughter, wine or folly.
Should he be able to find meaning in building, planting
- Remember my example of the young people who live for
the weekend party? What if they lived to have
productive jobs? Lived to go to school and get good
- Let's skip ahead. Read Ecclesiastes 2:17-18. Do you
agree that this is a problem with planting and building?
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:19-21. When we think of leaving our
work to others, we (I assume) generally think of how they
will enjoy our work. What does Solomon think about those
who will "enjoy" his work?
- What do you think, is building, planning and planting on
the same level of meaninglessness as partying? (Read Luke
12:29-34. Jesus tells us that eating, drinking, working,
possessions are all temporary. Our focus in life should be
the kingdom of God - if we make the kingdom our focus,
then our treasure will be stored up in heaven - where it
will be eternal.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:12-13. Is wisdom an advantage in life?
- If so, why? (Solomon says it is like being able to
"see" your way in life. The wise can avoid the
pitfalls of life.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:14-15. What is Solomon's argument that
wisdom gives you no advantage in the end? (Solomon says
both the wise and the fool die. So, what is the advantage
of being wise?)
- How would you answer Solomon's argument? (He is
focused on the future, not the present. Avoiding
falling in a pit makes my life better now.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. After Solomon's argument about
pleasure, planting, building, and wisdom, what conclusion
does he reach? (God gives us the gift of eating, drinking
and working - and we should enjoy those gifts while we
- Friend, is Solomon's conclusion sufficient for you? You
may agree with what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 2:24-26,
but the Bible teaches that we can do better. Do you want
to create eternal possessions? Do you want to have genuine
joy and laughter? Then turn your focus away from
everything "under heaven" - which was the focus of Solomon
for much of his life - and turn your focus to promoting
heaven. Then you get these gifts, and you get them
- Next week: Of Being and Time.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.