God gave Solomon wisdom that “excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East… he was wiser than all men…” (1 Kg 4:30-31). He experimented with his wisdom, abilities, and riches to try to discover the meaning of life. The book of Ecclesiastes is the results of his experiments. Let’s see what he found out…
Human wisdom and understanding. “…in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow” (Ec 1:18). We often are frustrated to learn that we need to learn more, or we learn that we can’t do anything about most things. Education isn’t the most important thing in life.
Pleasure. “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure’; but surely this also was vanity” (Ec 2:1). “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure” (Ec 2:10). So, he must have been happy, right? Surely he found peace and fulfillment, right? No, it was “empty.” Pleasure isn’t the most important thing in life.
Wealth. Ecclesiastes 2 describes his houses, vineyards, gardens, pools, servants, animals, and treasures. When he saw that he had more “than all who were before me”, he found no lasting satisfaction or fulfillment. It was “vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ec 2:9-11). Things seem so attractive and profitable. But wealth and things aren’t the most important things in life.
Work. Of all the work he had overseen and done he said, “…I hated all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun…” because work is hard, there is no end to it, and eventually you die and someone else profits from it (Ec 2:18-23). Work has its benefits, but it can’t be the most important thing in life.
Life. “This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead” (Ec 9:3). From a purely physical perspective, there is the madness of life’s rat race and then you die. Surely there must be something more important in life than just living.
Finally, the wise man said in the end, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ec 12:13). The original language actually reads, “for this is the whole of man” or “this is man’s all.” Whatever our experiences or abilities are in the things listed above, we are wildly successful in life, we fulfill our created purpose if we “Fear God and keep His commandments”. The wisest man who ever lived wants you to learn this.
Before someone says, “So what? I want to focus my life on all those other things,” the wise man warns, “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil” (Ec 12:14). Learn from the mistakes of the wisest man ever. Dedicate your life to godly reverence and following the will of God to find true success, fulfillment, peace, and reward!