Solomon set out to find the meaning of life by trying all the things available to a man of his status. He accumulated more wealth than anyone else in the world, but he got no satisfaction from it all. He went after “wine” and partied 10 wine women wealthwith the best of them. It brought no lasting satisfaction to his life. He then moved from wine and wealth to women. In Ecclesiastes 2:8, Solomon says, “I piled up silver and gold from the royal treasuries of the lands I ruled. Men and women sang to entertain me…” Then he adds, “…and I had all the women a man could want.” But not even unbridled sexual expression brought satisfaction. He’s singing along with Mick Jagger (after 50+ years), “I can’t get no…”

It’s not unusual to hear men look at the male icons and think how fortunate they are and how great their lives must be and to some degree feel a sense of jealousy for not having all the pleasures that they have. But actually I think Solomon wouldn’t be envious of us! Phil Ryken puts that sentiment this way, “Like Solomon, we have ample opportunity to indulge many sinful and selfish desires… Generally speaking, we live in better homes than he did, with better furniture and climate control. We dine at a larger buffet; when we go to the grocery store, we can buy almost anything we want, from anywhere in the world. We listen to a much wider variety of music. And as far as sex is concerned, the Internet offers an endless supply of virtual partners, providing a vast harem for the imagination.”

But the truth is, and at a very deep and profound level we know it, none of these indulgences will bring meaning and purpose and true satisfaction to our lives. To quote Ryken again, “The answer Ecclesiastes gives is one that we ought to know already, based on what happens to us when we pursue our own pleasures.” Solomon wrote this book in order to convince us not to live for the pleasures of this world. He is really building his case which he will soon reveal. He is arguing that all this pessimistic realism is supposed to drive us back to God. Life under the sun is not the only life. The mere suggestion of every aspect of Solomon’s reflection is modified by the phrase “under the sun” or “under the heavens” demonstrates that he knows (or at least suspects) that there must be more to life that we can see or hear or imagine. This is exactly what Paul meant when he said in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “eye has not seen nor ear has heard, neither has it entered into the hearts of man what God has prepared for those who love Him.”