These daily online studies are adapted from our Quiet Time Bible Guide. The studies go through the Old and New Testaments in just over two years. The approach taken by our quiet time Bible studies does not include answers. The goal of the study is to help you dig into Scripture for yourself. You can go deeper using a commentary, Bible background guide or Bible handbook.

Ecclesiastes 2:17-26: What Is the Value of Work?

For more context before you begin studying, read this introduction to the book of Ecclesiastes.

Gary hates his job. The tasks are repetitive, his boss is a grouch, the other employees bicker. The job, however, pays better than anything else he could find, and his son has a medical condition that would make him uninsurable if he changes companies. Gary feels trapped. Nothing can be quite as frustrating as work. And while most of us can't fully identify with Gary, many of us can readily understand something about his predicament. In this section of Ecclesiastes, the Teacher will look back at his own life's work. If anyone had a great job, he did. Even so, he asks, "Does it really amount to anything significant?"

Warming Up to God

Do you feel more like God's dutiful employee or his valued friend? Explore your perspective and tell him your heart. Remember that he is your most patient listener and he's eager to hear how you're doing.

Read Ecclesiastes 2:17-26

Discovering the Word

  • How would you describe the Teacher's emotional state as a result of his quest for meaning so far?
  • The phrase "under the sun" appears often throughout Ecclesiastes—five times in this passage (vv. 17, 18, 19, 20, 22). Describe the "under the sun" mentality.
  • What does the Teacher say about work (vv. 21-23)?
  • What shift do you see in the way the Teacher views work (vv. 24-26)?
  • Describe the contrast between seeking pleasure (vv. 10-11) and finding enjoyment (vv. 24-26).

Applying the Word

  • When have you experienced the kind of satisfying enjoyment described here?
  • If you were to view your work as a gift from God to be enjoyed, how could that change your attitude about it?

Responding in Prayer

Commit your work to the Lord and ask him to give you a heart that desires to glorify him in that context.