King Solomon was the third king of Israel. Known for his incredible wealth and power, Solomon reigned for 40 years during one of the most prosperous times in Israel’s history. According to Scripture, “The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones” (2 Chron. 1:15). Solomon was known for his extravagant lifestyle, taking 700 wives and 300 concubines. He is credited for the building of a lavish palace and the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. But perhaps most of all Solomon was renowned for his wisdom, which we learned yesterday was a gift (at his request) from God.
According to rabbinic tradition, Solomon penned the dismal reflections in the book of Ecclesiastes in his old age. This may be especially shocking, considering the source: “So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me” (v. 17).
Ecclesiastes repeats the theme that life “under the sun” is vanity. By acquiring everything commonly desired by humanity, the writer learned that bounty does not equal happiness.
Both the rich and the poor meet a common end. No amount of wealth or possessions guarantees happiness. Even accomplishments, of which he had many, did not produce joy (v. 19).
Notice how many times the word meaningless is used. Again and again, Ecclesiastes reaches the same conclusion. The one who is wise, seeing life through a godly lens, can view the end result of earthly labor. It will not produce eternal results. The key verse and the hope is found in verse 25. Without God, “who can eat or find enjoyment?” God is key to life’s purpose. It is not enough to work hard, to chase pleasure, or even to achieve greatness. Rather, a life spent pointed toward God will bring wisdom and happiness (v. 26).
Too often we fill our days with what Ecclesiastes would call “chasing after the wind.” Wisdom encourages us to look at life differently. What will count for eternity? What are you passionate about that will produce fruit for the kingdom? This is a challenge for us, not just for today, but throughout our life: to chase not after the wind but after God.