You don't see many people intentionally taking Ecclesiastes literally. Here are some excerpts to prove it. Keep in mind this is from the bible the so called "infallible & perfectly breathed word of God" & that its also written by the same guy who wrote the beloved book of Proverbs. Anyway, I think these are all worth a look at to see the real mindset Jewish people had before Jesus came to clear things up. There are also thought provoking things here.
The eye never has enough to see, and the ear is never filled with what it hears.
I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun. And see, it is all for nothing. It is like trying to catch the wind. I set my mind to know wisdom and to know what is crazy and foolish. I saw that this also is like trying to catch the wind. Because in much wisdom there is much trouble. And he who gets much learning gets much sorrow.
My heart was pleased with all my work. This was my reward for all my work. Then I thought about all that my hands had done, and the work I had done. I saw that it was all for nothing. It was like trying to catch the wind, and there was nothing to get for it under the sun.
The wise man will not be remembered forever any more than the fool. All will be forgotten in the days to come. The wise man dies just like the fool! So I hated life. For the work which had been done under the sun brought sorrow to me. Because everything is for nothing and is like trying to catch the wind.
For what does a man get from all his work and trouble under the sun? For his work brings pain and sorrow all his days. Even during the night his mind does not rest. This also is for nothing.
God has put thoughts of the forever in man’s mind, yet man cannot understand the work God has done from the beginning to the end.
I know that everything God does will last forever. There is nothing to add to it, and nothing to take from it.
To be a man is no better than to be an animal. Because all is for nothing.
Then I saw all the bad powers that were ruling under the sun. I saw the tears of the people who were suffering under these powers, with no one to comfort them. Those who made it hard for them had the power. But the people had no one to comfort them. So I thought that those who are already dead are better off than those who are still living. But better than both is the one who has never been, who has never seen the wrong that is done under the sun.
I have seen that all the work done is because a man wants what his neighbor has. This also is for nothing, like trying to catch the wind. The fool folds his hands and has no food to eat. One hand full of rest is better than two hands full of work and trying to catch the wind. [Solomon uncharacteristically says the fool is better off than the working man!]
It is work that brings sorrow.
Do not hurry to speak or be in a hurry as you think what to tell God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth. So let your words be few.
He who loves money will never have enough money to make him happy. It is the same for the one who loves to get many things. This also is for nothing.
Man comes from his mother without clothing, and he will go as he came. He will take nothing from his work that he can carry in his hand. what does the man get who works for the wind? All his life he eats in darkness with much sorrow, sickness and anger.
If a man becomes the father of a hundred children and lives many years until he is very old, but he is not happy with good things, and is not buried as he should be, then I say that the child who dies before it is born is shown more favor than he. For this child comes for nothing and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. It never sees the sun and it never knows anything. It is better off than he. Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not find joy in good things
All a man’s work is for his mouth, and yet his hunger is not filled.
The more words there are, the more they are worth nothing. What good is that to anyone? For who knows what is good for a man during his life, during the few years of his living for nothing? He will spend them like a shadow.
Do not say, “Why were the days of the past better than these?” For it is not wise to ask this.
To have sorrow is better than to laugh.
In the days of my life I have seen everything, but my life has been worth nothing. There is a right and good man who is destroyed while he is right and good. And there is a sinful man who lives long in his wrong-doing. Do not be too right and good, and do not be too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Do not be too sinful, and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time?
There are sinful men who have the same thing happen to them that happens to those who are right and good.
So I say a man should enjoy himself. For there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and drink and be happy.
The living know they will die. But the dead know nothing, and they will receive nothing further, for they are forgotten.
Drink your wine with a happy heart.
Time comes and goes and things happen for no reason to everyone.
A wise man’s heart leads him toward the right. But the foolish man’s heart leads him toward the left. [Ha ha Why aren't conservatives using this verse?]
The fool speaks many words. [Haha, Think of a preacher monologuing for an hour while everyone else is silent.]
Food is made ready to be enjoyed, wine makes life happy, but money is the answer to everything.
Do not curse a king even in your thoughts, and do not curse a rich man in your bedroom because a bird of the heavens will carry your voice and an animal with wings will make it known.
If a tree falls to the south or to the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.
Let an old man remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. All that comes is for nothing.
Young man follow the ways of your heart and the desires of your eyes.
The dust will return to the earth as it was. And the spirit will return to God Who gave it. “It is of no use,” says the teacher, “It is all for nothing!”
My son, be careful. There is no end to the writing of many books and reading many of them makes the body tired.
The teacher (Solomon) looked to find pleasing words and to write words of truth in the right way.
There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and find joy in his work. I have seen that this also is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can find joy without Him? For God has given wisdom and much learning and joy to the person who is good in God’s eyes.
When a face is sad, the heart may become strong.
Not giving up in spirit is better than being proud in spirit.
For sure a bad power makes the wise man angry.
I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the work which has been done on the earth, not sleeping day or night. And I saw all the work of God and knew that man cannot even think of all that is done under the sun. Even if man tries hard to find out, he will not be able to. Even if a wise man says he knows, he does not.
Why should God be angry because of what you said, and destroy the work of your hands?
God has already been pleased with your works.