Many people believe that pleasure is what life is all about. A famous beer commercial tells its listeners to "Go for the gusto." Solomon tried various different ways to bring pleasure to himself. Though some of the ways could destroy a person's mind, Solomon stated that through it all, he managed to keep his wisdom.
The first thing that Solomon tried was mirth. We would call it silliness today. Mirth is when you make a joke out of everything you come across. In a sense, Solomon became the town fool or the local joker. Solomon's conclusion was that all he got from it was a lot of happy noise. There was no substance to it. Once you stopped being silly, it was gone. There was no change, no improvement, no value to living as a fool.
Next, Solomon tried wine. For this discussion, I think we can include all mind altering chemicals. Alcohol and other drugs are physical ways of forcing pleasure. However, it is a deceptive pleasure (Prov. 20:1). You think you are having fun, but it is with things that would not be fun at all if you were sober. Alcohol and drugs cause errors in judgment (Isa. 28:1-3,7,8; Prov. 31:4-7). Under the influence of a drug, you make mistakes and never realize the error. Drugs also lower your moral standards (Hab. 2:15; Gen. 9:20-23). Drugs are a poison, not only physically, but also spiritually (Prov. 23:29-35).
Then Solomon turned to work (I Kings 7:1-12). Working brings two types of pleasure: the pleasure of doing something with our own hands and the pleasure of the plush life that it allows us to lead. Our society is plagued with people we joking refer to as "work-aholics," people who are seemingly addicted to working. In our society, we do not work for our necessities, but for our desires (Lk. 12:13-34). This is not to say that all work is bad, but work is not an end to itself (Eph. 4:28; I Thess. 4:11-12, II Thess. 3:10).
Many people desire the "good life," and Solomon tried this as well. He gathered to himself servants, vast herds, and enormous wealth. Solomon had the ultimate "good life." He even wrapped himself up in music. Young people in every generation find music an appealing form of pleasure and Solomon sampled this as well.
However, when all was said and done Solomon made these observations: 1) They were fun while they lasted, but that is all there was to it. 2) Once you stop, the pleasure does not continue. 3) There is no profit, no gain, no improvement to living a life of pleasure.
1) Dancing is another thing people do to have pleasure. Is dancing approved or condemned by God? Using Solomon's criteria, would dancing be worthwhile?
2) What are some other things people do for pleasure? Can we say that this is what life is all about?