B. The Futility of Life. 4:1-5:20
1. Oppression. 4:1-3
a. Solomon is troubled by the conditions of the oppressed.
b. They had no comforter, no one to take care of them and be on their side.
c. There was no chance for justice because there was wickedness in the place of judgment. cf. 3:16
d. Power was on the side of the oppressors.
e. He observed that those who had died were better off than those still alive, and they were better off that those who were yet to be born.
2. Work. 4:4-6
a. In verse four we see a person who is motivated by competetion, and becomes the envy of his neighbor for what he achieves, but it is really nothing!
b. In verse five we see the opposite in the fool who refuses to work, and consequently starves to death.
c. In verse six we see the proper balance for happiness.
3. Selfishness. 4:7-12
a. In verse eight we see a man who has no family or associates, yet he continues to work and pile up profits even though he has no one to share them with: this is vanity.
b. How much better it is to have one to share life with. [v9]
1) they can lift up one another [v10]
2) they can provide warmth for one another [v11]
3) they can protect each other [v12]
4. Political Success. 4:13-16
a. Wisdom is very important to a ruler, that is why Solomon said it is better to be poor and wise than to be the king and be foolish.
b. Remembering where you came from is also important to a ruler, if he doesn't, then those in his dominion will suffer.
c. He must also remember that there will be one that will rise up and rule in his place some day.
d. To all of this Solomon says it is vanity and vexation of spirit.
NOTE: SOLOMON'S DESIGN IN DRIVING US OFF FROM THE WORLD BY SHOWING US ITS VANITY, IS TO DRIVE US TO GOD AND OUR DUTY!
5. False Worship. 5:1-7
a. "Keep thy foot" means be attentive while in the house of God.
b. We might say, "Watch your step!"
c. Watch what you say, be careful not to spend too much time talking. "a fool's voice is known by multitude of words"
d. God is more pleased with what we do than by what we say and then don't do.
1) this truth is illustrated by the parable of Christ
2) Note: Mt. 21:28-31a
e. We must be careful that our mouths do not get us into trouble and cause us to sin against God.
f. Solomon is talking about the vanity of worship that, in reality is false worship.
6. Hoarded Riches. 5:8-20
a. Solomon makes several statements to introduce this subject. v8-9
1) there is corruption at all levels of government.
2) the earth is the storehouse from which we all must draw.
3) even the king is dependent upon the field for his sustenance.
b. Those riches other than the valuable products of the earth are vain. v10-17
1) they cannot satisfy 
2) the only thing you can do is look at them 
3) they do not bring peace or rest 
4) they are a great evil and cause hurt to the owners 
5) they perish as a result of a bad business deal and there is nothing left for the family 
6) the saddest point is seen in verses 15 & 16 where we see one who has "laboured for the wind" or literally one who has worked all of his life for nothing of eternal value.
7) the person who hoards riches spends his life on earth in a gloomy existence full of pain and sorrow and he leaves this life with nothing 
c. Solomon sums up his views on this matter. v18-20
1) Man can overcome the frustrations over the futility of life:
2) By enjoying life and being occupied with God's good gifts.