The Vanity of Toil

Ecclesiastes 2

18 I hated y all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must z leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I a turned about and gave my heart up to despair b over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from c all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For d all his days are full of sorrow, and his e work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

24 f There is nothing better for a person than that he should g eat and drink and find enjoyment 1 in his toil. This also, I saw, is h from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him 2 who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him i God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given e the business of gathering and collecting, j only to give to one who pleases God. k This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

  1. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 1:3
    What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
  2. Cross References
    Psalms 39:6
    Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
    Psalms 49:10
    For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.
  3. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 7:25
    I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness.
  4. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 1:3
    What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
  5. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 1:3
    What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
  6. Cross References
    Job 5:7
    But man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.
    Job 14:1
    Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.
  7. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 1:13
    And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
  8. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 3:12 - 13
    I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live.
    Ecclesiastes 3:22
    So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?
    Ecclesiastes 5:18
    Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.
    Ecclesiastes 8:15
    And I commend joy, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.
    1 Timothy 6:17
    As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
  9. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 9:7
    Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
    Luke 12:19
    And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.
    1 Corinthians 15:32
    What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.
  10. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 3:13
    Also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil - this is God's gift to man.
    Ecclesiastes 5:19
    Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil - this is the gift of God.
  11. Cross References
    Job 32:8
    But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.
  12. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 2:7
    I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.
  13. Cross References
    Job 27:16 - 17
    Though he heap up silver like dust, and pile up clothing like clay.
    Proverbs 13:22
    A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.
  14. Cross References
    Ecclesiastes 1:14
    I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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