I sometimes wonder how personal some of Solomon’s comments are. In Ecclesiastes 6:7-9 he says, “All people spend their lives scratching for food, but they never seem to have enough. So are wise people really better off than fools? Do poor people gain anything by being wise…?” Solomon was the king who was given one wish from God and chose 27 figurewisdom over wealth and fame. God commended him for his choice and granted his wish and along with it came the wealth and fame he didn’t ask for. But does wisdom and its accompanying perks really make that big of a difference? Are wise people really better off? I think Solomon’s wisdom helped him see that everything he gained didn’t change his lot in life. Many people look at great people and wish they could be like them. Solomon’s wisdom made him the envy of the entire world. They would come from many foreign countries just to witness it, yet Solomon knew it didn’t really make him different or better than anyone else. Everyone envied him. But Solomon knew he wasn’t any better than them. They wanted what he had, but he knew they already had it and that led him to conclude in verse 9, “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

One morning during my sophomore year in high school after a fairly significant failure in my life I found a plaque hanging on my bedroom wall that wasn’t there before. I never mentioned it and I still don’t know if it was my mom or dad that put it there, although I suspect it was my dad. I was certain that I’d never measure up to the high standards of those around me. I saw myself as a lower life form, in some ways, than the scholars, the athletes, the super spiritual and the popular kids all around me. The plaque was a framed poem. I didn’t know it at the time but it was Edgar Guest’s poem entitled “Equipment.” It begins, “Look them over, the wise and the great, they take their food from a common plate, and similar knives and forks they use. With similar laces they tie their shoes. The world considers them brave and smart, but you’ve got all they had when they made their start.”

I could only imagine a huge lecture coming my way and dreaded facing my folks that morning. But neither of them said a word about my failure the night before, but I felt that someone had been reading my mail in a much too personal way. They knew something about me that I thought I’d kept very private. The poem went on, “Figure it out for yourself, my lad. You’ve got all that the greatest of men have had; two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes, and a brain to use if you would be wise. With this equipment they all began, so start for the top and say, ‘I Can’.” I’m wondering this morning if Solomon’s thoughts in verse 9 don’t follow this thread. The NASB (New American Standard Bible) translates this verse: “What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires.” I guess we all have to figure it out for ourselves. I love Dr. Seuss’ quote, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”