Achievement (Eccl 1:12-18)
First the Teacher explores achievement. He was both a king and a sage — an overachiever to use today’s terms — “surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me” (Eccl. 1:16). And what did all his achievement mean to him? Not much. “It is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind” (Eccl. 1:13-14). No lasting achievement even seems possible. “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted” (Eccl. 1:15). Achieving his goals did not give him happiness, for it only made him realize how hollow and limited anything he could accomplish must be. In sum, he says again, “I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind” (Eccl. 1:17-18).