The Preacher who wrote Ecclesiastes had experienced the shortfall of mere earthly satisfactions. Having been disappointed by life “under the sun,” he became a cynic who exaggerated the emptiness of good things. He said, “There is no remembrance of former things ….” (Ecclesiastes 1:11) That is an exaggeration; people read history books. But his bitter words reflect a truth. Humans fail to adequately learn from history. They repeat the sins and foibles of the past.
I am suggesting that many of the Preacher’s statements are hyperbole. Hyperbole can be a useful means of communication.
Ecclesiastes 2:2 “I said of laughter, ‘It is madness’ and mirth, ‘What does it accomplish?’” The intended answer is “None;” an exaggeration. What is the reality made conspicuous by the hyperbole?
Laughter and pleasure can be compared to salt. Salt enhances the taste of many foods, but salt alone is not delicious. Laughter and pleasure enrich much of life, but when pursued exclusively they lack flavor.