The wisest of kings, Solomon, reflects on what his life had achieved. In reading Ecclesiastes, we perceive his remarkable insight from a human perspective into the meaning and purpose of all that we do and all that we possess in our lives. What does his insight reveal?
He has used his wisdom to accomplish everything possible. Chapter 2 says, “… 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).
Consider carefully his conclusion! “this was my reward” – but note his next comment, “then I considered all that I had done and the toil I had expended”. And 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 life has no lasting substance, yet we all strive after things we can possess and experience, but at the end of the day there is nothing ‘eternal’ in what we have achieved! Solomon then declares “so I hated life” (verse 17).
It seems he wrote Ecclesiastes near the end of his life. He lacked the vision that his father David possessed. David wrote a Psalm commenting about “men of the world whose portion is in this life” but in the next verse stated, “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?
Ecclesiastes makes humans look in the mirror and consider what they are accomplishing in life. What do you see when you look in yours? It makes many read and reflect on God’s word more fervently.