Cutting Room: Ecclesiastes 2

Cutting Room is everything that we researched that didn’t make it into the Sunday sermon. As always, a special thank you to Ryan Tanski for his contribution in research assistance.
— Pastor Pilgrim


Word References in Ecclesiastes

God - 41x/36v - Eccl 1:132:24263:10-1113-1517-185:1-246f18-206:27:13-141826298:212-1315179:1711:5912:713-14

Under the sun - 29x in 27v - Eccl 1:39142:1117-20223:164:137155:13186:1128:915179:369111310:5

Vanity - 22x/16v - Eccl 1:2142:1115192123263:194:47-8165:106:212:8

Wise - 24x/23v - Eccl 2:14-16194:136:87:4-571619238:15179:111151710:21212:911

Wisdom - 27x/24v - Eccl 1:1316-182:912-1321267:10-121923258:1169:101315-161810:110

Fool (ish) - 25x/23v - Eccl 2:14-16194:5135:13-46:87:4-6917259:1710:1-31214-15

Righteous (ness) - 11x/9v - Eccl 3:16f5:87:15f208:149:1f (cf Justice - Ec 3:165:8)

Wicked (ness) - 10v/8v - Eccl 3:16f7:15178:10149:210:13

Evil - 20x/18v - Eccl 2:214:35:113166:17:258:3811-149:31210:512:114

Labor* - 26x/19v - Eccl 2:10f18-22243:134:468f5:1518f6:78:179:9

Toil - 6x/6v - Eccl 3:95:16188:159:910:15

Rich* - 8x.8v - Eccl 4:85:12-14196:210:620 (Wealth - 4x/4v - Eccl 1:165:196:29:11)


Other Scripture Cross-References

Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV) | My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. 

1 Timothy 6:17-19 | 17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.


What are some things that the world indulges in for pleasure, and what are the effects?


  • Liver failure
  • Drunk driving
  • Addiction
  • Broken lives and families


  • Incorrect focus
  • Lack of meaning
  • Stuck up and prideful
  • Wasted life
  • Greed


  • STDs and STIs
  • Affairs
  • Sexual immorality
  • Broken relationships


  • Stealing
  • Lying
  • Divorced from reality
  • Addiction


  • Cavities
  • Fat
  • High cholesterol
  • Sugar cravings


Word study v.2 “mirth”

Webster - gladness or gaiety as shown by or accompanied with laughter

Simchah (sim-khaw) - Joy or pleasure


How is the brain wired for pleasure?

Dopamine is the one neurotransmitter that everyone seems to know about. Vaughn Bell once called it the Kim Kardashian of molecules, but I don’t think that’s fair to dopamine. Suffice it to say, dopamine’s big. And every week or so, you’ll see a new article come out all about dopamine.

So is dopamine your cupcake addiction? Your gamblingYour alcoholismYour sex life? The reality is dopamine has something to do with all of these. But it is none of them. Dopamine is a chemical in your body. That’s all. But that doesn’t make it simple.

What is dopamine? Dopamine is one of the chemical signals that pass information from one neuron to the next in the tiny spaces between them. When it is released from the first neuron, it floats into the space (the synapse) between the two neurons, and it bumps against receptors for it on the other side that then send a signal down the receiving neuron. That sounds very simple, but when you scale it up from a single pair of neurons to the vast networks in your brain, it quickly becomes complex. The effects of dopamine release depend on where it’s coming from, where the receiving neurons are going and what type of neurons they are, what receptors are binding the dopamine (there are five known types), and what role both the releasing and receiving neurons are playing.

And dopamine is busy! It’s involved in many different important pathways. But when most people talk about dopamine, particularly when they talk about motivation, addiction, attention, or lust, they are talking about the dopamine pathway known as the mesolimbic pathway, which starts with cells in the ventral tegmental area, buried deep in the middle of the brain, which send their projections out to places like the nucleus accumbens and the cortex. Increases in dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens occur in response to sexdrugs, and rock and roll. And dopamine signaling in this area is changed during the course of drug addiction.  All abused drugs, from alcohol to cocaine to heroin, increase dopamine in this area in one way or another, and many people like to describe a spike in dopamine as “motivation” or “pleasure.” But that’s not quite it.

Really, dopamine is signaling feedback for predicted rewards. If you, say, have learned to associate a cue (like a crack pipe) with a hit of crack, you will start getting increases in dopamine in the nucleus accumbens in response to the sightof the pipe, as your brain predicts the reward. But if you then don’t get your hit, well, then dopamine can decrease, and that’s not a good feeling. So you’d think that maybe dopamine predicts reward. But again, it gets more complex. For example, dopamine can increase in the nucleus accumbens in people with post-traumatic stress disorder when they are experiencing heightened vigilance and paranoia. So you might say, in this brain area at least, dopamine isn’t addiction or reward or fear. Instead, it’s what we call salience. Salience is more than attention: It’s a sign of something that needs to be paid attention to, something that stands out. This may be part of the mesolimbic role in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and also a part of its role in addiction.