Solomon lived a whole life full of great power, wealth, and wisdom. He wrote Ecclesiastes towards the end of it all to offer his keen reflections and insights.
This is what he had to say:
These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem. “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” (Ecc. 1:1-2) NLT
What?? This is his great surmise of life?
Well, that is kind of a letdown. It is until we know the backstory of why he landed on this conclusion.
For being so wise, Solomon decided he would offer his wisdom but didn’t feel the need to totally live by it. He decided his ways were better than God’s. He chased after things that didn’t matter.
What is “meaningless” are all of our pursuits outside of God’s plan for us: money, accolades, immoral behaviors, and pride to name a few.
Running ahead of God to grab ahold of what we think will make us happy, we soon realize how fast it transforms into sand through our fingers.
At the end of his life, Solomon is still imparting his wisdom. He is just viewing it more from the angle of what not to do.
Solomon wants us to understand to obtain true peace, happiness, and joy, we need to walk alongside our Father all the days of our lives.
Solomon goes on to say, “I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.” (Ecc. 1:12-14) NLT
Do we really need Solomon’s sage advice to know this to be true? I know I don’t.
I have pursued relationships—begging to find myself within the eyes of the person I was with only to realize they were the wrong eyes staring back.
I have pursued my career in different settings to find my “happy place” only to be let down time and time again.
I sought after praise and approval from those around me desperately wanting to feel “good” and “worthy.” I skidded into hopelessness when the praise didn’t come. When it did come, the feeling that I measured up was a fire that burned out every evening. I needed it to be rekindled each and every day. It didn’t matter if someone else was having a bad day or preoccupied with their own lives. Their second job was to fill my internal gas tank. They just didn’t know it.
Food, lust, big houses, bigger bank accounts, popularity, cars, vacations, upgrades, promotions—they all fall within the same ranks. Meaningless!
Solomon had all of this and more—more than we could ever visualize or wish for ourselves, yet he found the totality of it meaningless.
The truth he gained from the fruits of his labor and dogged focus is that if they are not acquired with God at the center, they are not gains at all.
These are not bad pursuits in and of themselves, but without the presence, parameters, and approval of God, they will actually illuminate in the end just how empty we really are.
The moment we run ahead of him, everything becomes, “Completely meaningless!”