IN THE last week's edition, we greatly discussed how King Solomon possessed everything that everybody could possibly wish for on earth, and he sought happiness and purpose in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. This is how he started his search: “I said to myself, come now, I will test you with pleasure and gratification; so enjoy and have good time …” (Ecclesiastes 2:1).
Solomon had entertainers, men and women who sang and played good ancient melodies to satisfy his soul. He sought in his heart to give himself unto wine to determine whether it was good for men to pursue. Then, he tried a variety of sexual experiences, marrying 700 wives and taking 300 concubines, to see if there would be any meaning attached to it. Also, Solomon was a real estate developer (Ecclesiastes 2:4). He built cities and houses.
Moreover, the king engaged in agriculture. He planted vineyards, designed luxurious gardens and parks, planted varieties of fruits, made pools (fountains) to irrigate the farms. They all looked beautiful in his sight, yet his work and accomplishments did not satisfy the longing fulfillment he was desperately craving for.
Now, if pleasure and work gave him no lasting satisfaction, then, perhaps wealth would. Solomon amassed wealth and became the richest man on earth. He became great and increased more than everyone who lived before him in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 2:9). No king in the Bible compares to Solomon in riches. He made silver and gold as plentiful and common in Jerusalem as stones (2 Chronicles 1:15).
Each year, King Solomon received 666 talents of gold (25 tons of gold) excluding what the merchants and the kings and governors brought (1 Kings 10:14-15). How much is a ton of gold today? Imagine how much 25 tons of gold a year is over Solomon's 40-year reign. With so much wealth, he realized money could not fulfill him (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Just like Jesus said in Luke 12:15 that a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses.
Solomon felt empty from pleasure, work and wealth, but he still had wisdom. He sought fulfillment in wisdom. He compared wisdom to folly and clearly saw wisdom surpassed folly just as light surpassed darkness.
Like Marcus Garvey said, “Intelligence rules the world and ignorance carries the burden”. But Solomon realized that in the end the same fate befell both the wise and the fool. Death, they say, is the great equalizer. The wise and the fool, rich and the poor, literate and illiterate are all put in the same bracket when they die.
A wise man will be buried not to return to the earth just like the fool. Wisdom does not keep a man alive forever. In the end, the wise go to the grave empty handed just like the fool. He carries nothing with him; all the riches, wisdom, properties and projects are left behind (Ecclesiastes 5:15, 1Timothy 6:7).
Kryzayda Rodriguez, a popular fashion/lifestyle blogger, died 10 months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. In her last post on Instagram, she said, “I have a brand new car parked outside that can't do anything for me; I have all kinds of designers clothes, shoes and bags that can't do anything for me; I have money in my account that can't do anything for me; I have a big well-furnished house that can't do anything for me.
“Look, I'm lying here in a twin-size hospital bed; I can take a plane any day of the week if I like, but that can't do anything for me''. She saw no usefulness in all the things she had acquired in her last days.
Solomon became deeply suspicious about life which left him with this question: “What advantage does man have from all his work which he does under the sun?''(Ecclesiastes 1:3). What is the point of it all?
A similar question is asked by Jesus in Matthew 16:26; “For what is man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his soul?'' When our life is brought to its end, what will be left for us? Nothing! If death ends it all, then life will have no meaning. There will be no profit and lasting reward from our toil on earth.
Solomon thought he knew all about life, but instead of finding meaning and purpose, he found futility in his search. There is but one place to find meaning and purpose in life. If our search for meaning in life has proven futile, it is probably because we lack deeper understanding and revelation. Solomon, after relying on his power, wisdom and resources to find the meaning and purpose in life finally realized it can only be found in one source which is God.
Ng Chee Tat Philip, the richest man in Singapore who is a devout Christian, has observed that life and materialism without Jesus Christ is an empty and broken life. He said, “I have discovered that all of us are broken, we all have a missing piece. For me, I discovered that the missing piece was God in Jesus Christ”. When he realized there was “no better me, or better things without Jesus, then it all snapped in place.”
By James Quansah