I Kings 11; Ecclesiastes 1-2
The wisest, richest, most productive, and most popular king that ever lived hated life. But before we talk about how Solomon was feeling, let’s look at some of the choices he had made.
I Kings 11 tells us Solomon had a weakness. He loved women. He married 700 of them and had sex with 300 more. And instead of insisting that these women worship Solomon’s God, he allowed them to continue to worship their idols.
I can almost hear a Moabite wife, whispering to Solomon in a private moment saying: If you really loved me you’d join me as I pray to Chemosh.
And gradually Solomon began to take part in the worship of these false Gods. Verse six says Solomon did evil in God’s sight.
So Solomon did what mankind has been doing since the Garden. He tried to replace God. Ecclesiastes says he went on a mission to find happiness and spared no expense.
The king started with what he already had… wisdom. And he tried to learn everything he could about everything he could think of. He hired the best science teachers, philosophers, historians. He studied hard. But in the end he had to admit that intellect, all the knowledge in the world is like chasing after the wind.
So he went on to something else. Fun. Solomon had the means to throw the best parties. And he did. He hired the best entertainment. He served the best food. He invited the rich and famous. He owned more gold, silver, livestock, land than anyone. He built gardens and parks and reservoirs. He denied himself nothing. If material gain and living to please yourself could bring happiness, Solomon would have been the happiest man ever.
But he wasn’t happy. He found out that “things” can’t satisfy no matter how lavish. What does he say about his experiment with pleasures?
This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
We’re not done looking at Solomon’s quest for happiness and fulfillment. But I think God would ask us all to check our own pursuits. What is it I am working toward? What is it I am using to replace God in my life? Is it education or science? Is it living for the weekend, having things, being caught up in material possessions? If we are honest we will agree with Solomon. None of that is eternal. None of that can last.
If we are pursuing education or pleasure as means of fulfillment we might as well try to case the wind.
Dear God, as we look at the book of Ecclesiastes I pray that we will do so with open hearts and minds. Some who read this may hate life like Solomon did. May each of us be ready to take inventory, to recognize those things we think are so important in our lives, and to measure them according to your standards. I pray you will use Solomon’s words to help us know where true happiness lies.