Wisdom brought no satisfaction to Solomon. Pleasure brought no satisfaction to Solomon. So he moved on. Next he tried Alcohol. Ecclesiastes 2:3 says, “I decided to cheer myself with win and have a good time. I thought this 10 wine and wealthmight be the best way people can spend their short lives on earth.” Actually, this sounds like a very popular view that’s prevalent in our culture as well. “Miller time” is the best time! He then went on to mention sex, materialism, power and prestige before he wraps up the conclusion that was the same for all his endeavors. It’s found in Ecclesiastes 2:13. It’s the same conclusion that his passage began with in Chapter 1, verse 14. He says, “It was like trying to catch the wind – of no use at all!” Again, the word for wind might also be translated “breath.” If so, as many OT Scholars suggest, it would picture our attempting to grasp our own breath on a cold morning. (We’ve seen a lot of those lately). The Green Bay Packers lost their playoff game to San Francisco on their home field. During that game you could see their breath! That’s most likely what this reference is to.

One of the best poetic descriptions of the failure of alcohol or drugs to bring significant meaning and happiness in life was written by A. E. Houseman a century ago. Next to Rudyard Kipling’s verse, Houseman was my favorite poet. He writes, “And alcohol does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man. (In the preface to Paradise Lost, Milton explains that he hopes to explain why God does what He does in this world.) Alcohol, man, alcohol is the stuff to drink for fellows whom it hurts to think; Look into the pewter pot to see the world as the world’s not. And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past: The mischief is that ’twill not last. Oh I have been to Ludlow fair (the place where alcohol was brewed) And left my necktie God knows where, and carried half way home, or near, Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer: Then the world seemed none so bad, And I myself a sterling lad; And down in lovely muck I’ve lain, happy till I woke again. Then I saw the morning sky: Heigho, the tale was all a lie; the world, it was the old world yet, I was I, my things were wet; and nothing now remained to do but begin the game anew.”

Wine failed and so did wealth. No one had the wealth that Solomon had. What exactly was Solomon’s net worth? Exactly how rich was he? One commentator argues that here has never been a human in history that had so much gold and silver. He ruled in Israel for 40 years and each year it has been estimated that he brought in 1.1 billion dollars. The kings of Arabia, the governors of the surrounding provinces all brought tribute money to Solomon as well as nations as far away as Egypt and Ethiopia. He also collected heavy taxes from his own people. Gold, silver, ivory, apes, monkeys, and peacocks were received every three years from his business partnership with Hiram, King of Tyre. No one has ever had the wealth that Solomon had. Yet it too, left him unsatisfied. Neither wine nor wealth will make life satisfying in the long run. We’re created with a deeper need and that’s a communion with the God that made us. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” In Him do we find purpose, meaning and true satisfaction as we walk the trails in this valley of tears.