In the following years, Solomon built an army, amassed 1400 chariots and 12000 horses, and brought into the kingdom 25 tons of gold per year! He built ships, cities, a palace, and the temple.
But in the end, he looked around at everything he had done and learned and said, “what's the point?”
In his own words…
I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (NLT)
Solomon had embarked on a journey that led to disappointment. That is not a journey I want to take.
So before I go any further, I'm asking myself a few questions.
1) What am I chasing?
What are my goals? What are my dreams? Solomon was chasing significance. He was the son of a king. Those are huge steps to follow. Solomon was chasing wealth and power. He didn't just want to be a politician. He wanted to be THE King! Solomon was chasing love, or at the very least, affection. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Sure. Some were for political reasons, but one thousand ladies?
2) Why do I want it?
What do I think it will be like when I catch it? What are my expectations? Solomon assumed that he would be admired and respected. Solomon expected to find contentment. Solomon thought he would be unique and special.
3) What about it will last?
What kind of legacy am I really leaving? When the experience is over..what then? What is the shelf life of all that I'm trying to accomplish? One of Solomon's realizations was that when we died, he had no control over how others would tend to, or neglect, all that he had built. It is a sobering thing to realize that soon after we die, we will be forgotten. Our inheritance will be spent. Our records will be broken. I guess here is where we should insert the "you can't take it with you" cliche.
4) What am I missing?
Is there something I am overlooking? Is there something I am underestimating?
As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
No matter what we achieve, if we miss out on what matters the most, the whole journey will have a "bad smell."
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. Ecclesiastes 12:13