If It Feels Good, Do It

W. Terry Varner
May 22, 2016

Solomon’s search of secular wisdom and knowledge revealed some basics of life. His search of pursuing pleasure continues in Ecclesiastes 2:12-13. His research was deliberate, planned, and very modern. How many times have you heard the advice to another, “If you want to do it, try it.” “If it feels good, to do it”? Which describes this part of his search in pursuing pleasure. Solomon is describing life from the secular view; i.e. apart from God. He searches for the meaning of life, as so many people do, without including God.

Go at it with wide-open eyes. Solomon wrote, “So I turned to consider wisdom, madness and folly, for what will the man do who will come after the king except what has already been done?” (Eccl. 2:12). He immediately saw “wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness” (Eccl. 2:13). In his search of pleasure he says do not pursue it like a wild man. If you do you will eventually tire of it and become entangled in things you cannot imagine. It is like the difference between light and darkness. There are advantages when you walk in the light; darkness causes us to stumble and not know what we are getting into. The wise can foresee some of the results of the foolishness of pleasure and darkness. Our daily news tells us this is true. Daily we are told of people who indulge themselves in foolishness. Their pursuit of such often results in jail-time, heavy fines, burned-out from drugs, and a scourge to themselves, their families, and to society.

As Solomon searched the pleasures of a shady life, he realized “that one fate befalls them both” (2:14); i.e. both the wise and the foolish die. “It is appointed to man to die once, after that the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Solomon writes that after death, “there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch in the coming days all will be forgotten” (2:15). The meaning is simple. Pursue life carefully and wisely or foolishly, both men die and are soon forgotten. I visit the grave of my parents, but not the graves of my great-grandparents.

Life’s problems. Ecclesiastes 2:17-21 sets froth life has problems whether lived wisely or foolishly. Jesus makes this clear in His parable of the wise and foolish man (Matt. 7:24-27). In building their life (house) both suffer “rain, wind, and floods” (trials, difficulties, hardships). Notice what happens when life is lived apart from God. First, “I hated life” (2:17); i.e. disgruntled from the lack of return from all one pursues. Some are determined to have fun even if it kills them or someone else. Solomon said that pursuit of life was grief and resulted in the hatred of life. Second, the fool irritated with life, wastes it, and results in “this too is vanity (meaningless) and great evil” (2:21). Third, “I completely despaired” (2:20); i.e. I felt helpless and hopeless. Perhaps, this is the partial explanation of many sudden, unexpected end of those who make foolishness the object of their life. At times, despair can become so great that people, unable to continue and not knowing where to turn, kill themselves or die from the problems of life. He describes this man as: “Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity (meaningless, emptiness)” (2:23).

Life’s solution. At this point in Solomon’s study of life, he does not give a full explanation to the solution of life’s many problems. He only hints at it: “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen, that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that He may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after the wind” (2:24-26, emp. added). Solomon states that emptiness and vexation in life results from living without God. Later, Solomon gives the solution to life: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14, ESV).