“Ignorance is bliss” finds counterpart wisdom in Ecclesiastes. Gaining wisdom, to wise Solomon, is like a “chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:17). Why is this? Because the one gaining wisdom and knowledge also receives “vexation” as well as “sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18). To be sure, Solomon claims wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness (Ecclesiastes 2:13). This still brings Solomon little comfort, for the fate of the wise is the same as the fool. So what comfort is there in wisdom?
So far, the only comfort is that it is temporarily better than folly. Even if we agree with Solomon’s wisdom that we should enjoy the fruit of our toil as God’s good gift (Ecclesiastes 2:24), we still learn that even this is vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:26). This forces the reader to consider exactly what Solomon would have us do with the seeming purposelessness of life. While we are forced to wrestle with how much energy we invest in the temporary gains in life, we are left to ask, “To what end is the book driving us—despair, depression, or something else?” Thankfully, for answers to that question, this book and its reflections continue on.