I think at some point in his life King Solomon he was depressed, I just finished a study of the book of Ecclesiastes, and I have to say, I have never seen the word meaningless used to describe so many things, so many times. The book of Ecclesiastes is a bit odd, here goes the wisest man who ever lived, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines, he built quite an impressive temple, he made Israel a very rich and prosperous kingdom, yet he was a deeply depressed man when he wrote this book, he comes across as tired, world weary and forlorn. To be honest this is not one of the books you read in the bible if you want a nice pick-me-up, there are no promises of God in this book, and there are no stories of great feats and God’s awesome power. it’s just a book about a man who is looking back at life from a vantage point and asking what is really the point? Is it really worth it? And he is asking the same question we all ask ourselves what is the meaning of life?, We all know this man was very wise, very wealthy, led a pretty hedonistic life by all accounts, had want for nothing yet he was still unhappy. We all know the popular saying that money doesn’t make you happy (I beg to differ lol) but I think King Solomon goes deeper with the topics he explores. He doesn’t just state that money doesn’t make you happy, he says that everything we seek to pursue in life is ultimately meaningless, because no matter how rich, poor, sad, happy, blessed in this life we are, one day it will come to an end, everything we do on earth is temporary and is sure to have an expiration date, therefore one day all that we have achieved or will achieve will become as nothing. That is pretty nihilistic, King Solomon makes death, the only sure certainty in life, the true fate of all men.
So what then, he’s told us that all we strive for under the sun is pointless and meaningless, what are we supposed to do with that? Are we supposed to fold our arms and just sit in the sun and wait to die? I mean of course we need to labor, we need to eat, we need to live lives, but what is the point of it all if everything is so futile, King Solomon makes it clear that without God, life is meaningless. Living for the here and now, does not profit you much because the things we strive for we cannot take them with us when we die, we must therefore live for things that carry eternal weight and value. Earthly success is good and profitable because, first we must realize every good thing comes from God, the ability to work, to excel, to make profit and to live comfortable lives is a gift from God, we should take pride in our labor and learn to enjoy the fruits of our hard work while we are still alive, and most importantly use what God has blessed us with to help people, but in everything we do we need to learn to put God at the center because ultimately, not only is he the giver of life and the gifts that come with life but also he decides your eternal destiny which is what really matters. The book of Ecclesiastes is a reality check if there ever was one, we all know these things, yet we all get so carried away and caught up in the daily grind and “hustle’’, we get jealous, envious about other things that other people have, we moan and complain when we don’t have like so and so, we pursue countless hobbies, we waste time on things that don’t really matter, we fail to realize that all these pursuits are futile if we don’t live our lives with God at the center and allow his hands to guide us.
I have always seen Ecclesiastes as a rather somber book, but this is honestly the first time I read it and realized that it is actually a book of hope, I daresay an optimistic book, King Solomon sums it up by saying that the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep his commandments. I mean that’s all he has to say? The wisest man who ever lived, no deep thought provoking philosophy? The truth is that we humans like things to be complicated, King Solomon has given it to us rather straight and simple, and as the book of psalm 144:4(KJV) says that man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away. Our lives are short and brief, therefore we must spend and number our days wisely, we are not to get lost and caught up in pursuits that are futile, we must always be focused on doing what is right by God (and each other) always, we should take each and every good thing that happens to us as a blessing and a gift from God. We should strive to enjoy each and every day( this can be very hard when you are unemployed, are sick, have countless bills to pay etc.) , live our lives as passionately as we can, and ultimately seek guidance and purpose from God so that we do not get lost chasing the wind.