I have been reading through the Proverbs and now Ecclesiastes. Not that this is my first time through these books of the Bible, but this is the first time that I realized something. We read in 1 Kings 3:5-15 where God granted Solomon a discerning heart.
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.
“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.
Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.
So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.
So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,
I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.
And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.”
And it is very apparent, when looking at Solomon's life, that there has been and will not be an equal among kings. I cannot even imagine what it is like to live in a monarch society, but I believe there must have been an incredible sense of grand when you saw the King (if you ever saw him).
Of course, this thought instantly makes me think of God on His throne in heaven and I know that He is truly the King of Kings and Lord of Lords - and He has no equal on Earth or in Heaven. Talk about majesty!!
Ok, I got a little off track.
Now for the thought that hit me. When we think of Solomon, we not only think of his great wisdom, but also of his great folly - He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray [1 Kings 11:3]. These wives were given to Solomon as gifts - because he was such a great king - by other countries. These wives were given out of respect and for pleasure.
Now remember, Solomon asked for a discerning heart - wisdom - and with that gift, God also granted him wealth and honor.
Now as I read Ecclesiastes, I see that because Solomon had the wealth and the honor and the wives and anything else he wanted - he learned a great lesson.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2
Solomon learned that this life is not about pleasure - but about God. He learned this the hard way, but I am of the opinion (now this is me talking, not God) that God allows certain experiences in our lives (painful and difficult experiences) so that we will gain wisdom. Think of the difficult times in your life. Now that you are through that difficult time, think about how you can relate to someone else in a similar situation. Your heart has compassion. You have the wisdom that comes with experience. The view is more clear now that you are looking at it in the rear view mirror.
This is how Solomon's life was - clear as he was looking back. He wrote this book in his later years, after he had that valuable experience that lead to true wisdom. And the conclusion of his life - the life spent chasing after pleasure....
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is fear God, and keep His commandments because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
It all goes back to the greatest commandment.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5
So I urge you to learn from others' experience. Learn from Solomon - the wisest man who has ever lived. Learn that seeking after earthly pleasures is "vanity and striving after the wind and there is [was] no profit under the sun."
And use the experience you already have endured to help others, just as Solomon has done in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Seek God and love him with all your heart.