I said to myself, "Let's go for it - experiment with pleasure, have a good time!" But there was nothing to it, nothing but smoke.
What do I think of the fun-filled life? Insane! Inane! My verdict on the pursuit of happiness? Who needs it?
With the help of a bottle of wine and all the wisdom I could muster, I tried my level best to penetrate the absurdity of life. I wanted to get a handle on anything useful we mortals might do during the years we spend on this earth. I Never Said No to Myself
Oh, I did great things: built houses, planted vineyards,
designed gardens and parks and planted a variety of fruit trees in them,
made pools of water to irrigate the groves of trees.
I bought slaves, male and female, who had children, giving me even more slaves; then I acquired large herds and flocks, larger than any before me in Jerusalem.
I piled up silver and gold, loot from kings and kingdoms. I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song, and - most exquisite of all pleasures - voluptuous maidens for my bed.
Oh, how I prospered! I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What's more, I kept a clear head through it all.
Everything I wanted I took - I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task - my reward to myself for a hard day's work!
Then I took a good look at everything I'd done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)