The wisest of kings, Solomon, reflected on what his life had achieved. In reading Ecclesiastes we perceive his remarkable insight into the meaning and purpose of all that exists, from a human perspective. What do his insights reveal?
Solomon uses his wisdom to accomplish everything possible. His second chapter details this, “… my heart still guiding me with wisdom … I made great works, I built houses and planted vineyards … made myself gardens and parks and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools … had slaves … also great possessions of herds … also gathered for myself silver and gold … I got singers … many concubines … so I became great and surpassed all who were before me … whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure … this was my reward for all my toil” (verses 3-11).
Note his conclusion! “this was my reward” and his next comment, “then I considered all that I had done and the toil I had expended”. What does he see as the outcome of his considerations? “Behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind”. Other versions have, “I saw everything was emptiness and chasing the wind” (NEB) “meaningless” (NIV). Solomon saw that human lives have no lasting substance. Yet we all strive after things we can possess and experience but let us recognise that, in the end, there is nothing ‘eternal’ in what we have experienced or achieved! Solomon declared “so I hated life” (verse 17). A remarkable comment!
It seems evident he wrote this near the end of his life; he lacked the vision of his father David when he wrote a Psalm and commented about “men of the world whose portion is in this life” – but in the next verse David said to his Creator, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:14,15). What will we be satisfied with?
Those who read Ecclesiastes should look into their hearts and consider their ambitions, and what they mean in the eternal perspective of their future.