Sometimes in our human condition, we can believe that there are better things than God.
After a vision in his youth, King Solomon was granted wisdom by the Lord and also experienced God’s lavish blessing. Solomon was the wisest and richest man in the Scriptures, so for his entire life, with all his wealth and resources, he sought the secret to fulfillment and meaning - to find “what is good.” Near the end of his life, he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, which means “to gather”.
After pursuing fulfillment and meaning, here is what he found about his earthly pursuits:
The words of the Teacher,son of David, king in Jerusalem: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:1-2
Solomon speaks to five major areas that people seek for fulfillment:
I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief. Ecclesiastes 1:16-18
Solomon was the wisest man in the world, and yet at the end of his life, he found wisdom to be insufficient. As humans, the older we get and the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know! Sometimes we can place wisdom above God; there’s nothing wrong with wisdom or knowledge, but information, education, and experience won’t save us in the end.
What kind of substances have you used to fulfill yourself in place of God? Wine, beer, marijuana, pills?
I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. Ecclesiastes 2:1-3
Physical pleasure from wine or anything else cannot bring lasting fulfillment. The lie of the beer commercials is that every woman who drinks beer is beautiful and healthy and the man who drinks beer is interesting, cool, and has it all together. The commercials don’t show the destruction alcoholism can bring - drunken behavior, big beer bellies, wrecked families, drunk driving accidents, lost careers, etc. As Solomon found out, wine will not make you content. It is meaningless!
I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. Ecclesiastes 2:4-6
Pastor Marcus shared the experience of an acquaintance who is a head coach in the NBA. This man worked extremely hard to win the NBA title and after winning, the next year he fell into a dark depression. After everything he had done, he accomplished his goal but then found that it did not satisfy him.
It is great to work hard and have accomplishments, but in the end, work cannot bring lasting contentment or save our souls. Imagine you are in your last day on earth, lying on your death bed. Will you be trying to send out just one last work email? In the end, our work can never bring the satisfaction that the Living God can bring.
I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. Ecclesiastes 2:8a
We all desire wealth to some degree because it can buy us our necessities for living and certain comforts and luxuries. Even though Solomon was the richest and wisest man in the Bible (1 Kings) and had everything money could buy, he found that chasing money was like chasing the wind. It simply doesn’t satisfy the human soul.
I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. Ecclesiastes 2:8b
Solomon speaks of the abundance of women in his life, which today likely translates as having many intimate relationships. Having “the right guy” or “the right girl” will not solve your problems - in fact, it may make those problems more complicated! Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, yet he found that having relationships was not the answer to satisfying his soul.
At the end of Solomon’s life, he summarized that fulfillment can only be found in the Lord.
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Have you put God aside to pursue other things that you believe will bring your satisfaction? Nothing else can save you or fulfill you! As Solomon says, the best thing we can do is to place God in His proper place, fear Him, and keep His commandments. Take a quick inventory of your life. In what ways do you still need to “fear God and keep His commandments”?