Like many people today, Solomon tried to find satisfaction by pursuing a life of pleasure. He reports: “I did not hold back my heart from any sort of rejoicing.” (Eccl. 2:10) Where did he search for pleasure? According to Ecclesiastes chapter 2, he ‘cheered his flesh with wine’—at the same time maintaining self-control—and pursued such activities as landscaping, designing palaces, listening to music, and enjoying good food.
Does the Bible condemn having a good time with friends? Not at all. Solomon notes, for instance, that enjoying a meal in a relaxed atmosphere after a hard day’s work is a gift of God. (Read Ecclesiastes 2:24; 3:12, 13.) Moreover, Jehovah himself invites young ones to ‘rejoice and let their heart do them good’ in a responsible way. (Eccl. 11:9) We need relaxation and wholesome entertainment. (Compare Mark 6:31.)
However, recreation should not become the primary purpose of our life. Rather, relaxation should be like the dessert at the end of a meal, not the main course. You will agree that no matter how much you enjoy sweet desserts, you would soon tire of them if you ate nothing else, and they would not provide much sustenance. Similarly, Solomon discovered that a life centered on pleasure was “a striving after wind.”—Eccl. 2:10, 11.
Furthermore, not all kinds of recreation are wholesome. Many are downright harmful—both spiritually and morally. How many millions have plunged their lives into despair just because they ‘wanted to have a good time,’ abusing drugs, overindulging in alcohol, or gambling? Jehovah kindly warns us that if we allow our heart or our eyes to lead us toward what is harmful, we must expect to suffer the consequences.—Gal. 6:7.
Moreover, an unbalanced pursuit of pleasure will hinder us from paying proper attention to weightier matters. Remember, life passes by quickly, and there is no guarantee that our short life will always be marked by good health and freedom from problems. That is why, as Solomon further noted, we may derive greater benefit from attending a funeral—especially that of a loyal Christian brother or sister—than from going to a “house of rejoicing.” (Read Ecclesiastes 7:2, 4.)
Why is that so? As we listen to the funeral discourse and reflect on the life course of the faithful servant of Jehovah who has died, we might be moved to examine our own life course. As a result, we may conclude that we need to adjust our goals in order to use the remainder of our lives wisely.—Eccl. 12:1.