“Then I looked again at the vanity under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 4: 7
Solomon spent much of his life in contemplation. I was trying to discover life. I was trying to understand it. He took on the arduous task of reducing life and all its components into a cohesive conclusion: what is the meaning of life?
Every time Solomon thought he was getting closer, he would realize again that the mystical and ethereal answer eluded him. Desperate, after countless attempts to sum it up, his life conclusion collapsed into a desperate epitaph: “Vanity of vanities! Everything is vanity.” Ecc 1: 2
One thing is for sure: Solomon did not live in impossible dreams. He was what we might call a “realist”. And there are those who would say that he was a pessimist, a man who had a dark vision of things. No matter how one views your perspective on life, there is one significant fact that should not be ignored, and it is this: Solomon had every reason to be happy, perhaps more than anyone who has ever lived.
It is indisputable that he had riches beyond imagination. He had world power (I Kings 4:21). He had a massive influence (I Kings 4:34). And he had wisdom (I Kings 4:30). How could someone so gifted with everything desirable, have assumed such a desperate vision of life?
I will tell you how. Because Solomon had experienced the “highest”, achieved the highest possible level of everything that people desire in the whole world, God uniquely positioned him to offer the general and all-encompassing truth:
No amount of money, position, pleasure, or power can bring a person one step closer to satisfaction.
In Ecclesiastes chapter 2, Solomon told us about the mission he embarked on to find happiness and contentment. He did not retain anything. He explored everything that humanity has used and is using today to find that imaginary gem at the end of the fantastic rainbow.
He chased him with wine (body stimulation with drugs). He built buildings, parks and gardens (achievements and achievements). He had slaves, servants and workers under his command, at his service (internal power and influence). Large herds of cattle and gold and silver (wealth). Treasures of kings and provinces (global power and influence). Singers and harem of women (entertainment and pleasure). Wisdom and discretion (intellectual achievement).
Did you miss something? I do not believe it. What Solomon pursued is essentially what everyone on the planet pursues, day by day, every day, until the end of their lives.
And what did you find? ANY. Nothing but vanity.
“Thus I considered all the activities that my hands had done and the work that I had done, and here it was all vanity and toil after the wind and there was no benefit under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:11
Pretty dark, huh? Yes, maybe, but Solomon was only telling the truth. People may not want to openly confess that there is no lasting meaning in what they do throughout the year. They can even feign happiness and satisfaction. But that doesn’t make it real.
In truth, people have been experiencing what Solomon experienced from the confines of history until this very morning. Nothing has changed.
It means so much more coming from a man who had it all intellectually, physically, situationally, and mentally. If someone who has reached the epitome of life says that everything is meaningless and empty … we better tune in.
The great writer of Ecclesiastes left us some serious things to think about. He beckoned us not to waste our time in the fruitless search for things that have never brought us happiness and can never bring us. Instead, this hardened old man, having experienced everything the world could give him, came to the final and conclusive truth here in these words:
“The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep his commandments, because this applies to everyone. Because God will bring to trial every act, everything that is hidden, be it good or bad.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14