By Lori Gardner
“I said in mine heart, Come now, I will test thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure, and behold, this also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 2:1).
Like many people today, King Solomon’s quest for the meaning and purpose of life led him to seek fulfillment in the pleasures of this world. As a man of enormous wealth and power it would have been easy to do.
In Ecclesiastes chapter 2, he lists the ways in which he sought to find fulfillment. He tried giving himself over to alcohol. He built houses with elaborate gardens and vineyards. He acquired women, servants and great herds and flocks. He gathered together the treasures of kings and was serenaded by his own singers and musicians. He admits that he denied himself no pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:3-10).
What came from this indulgence? He wrote in verse 10, “…my heart rejoiced in all my labor.” He may have temporarily rejoiced, but his feeling of accomplishment quickly faded. He was soon left with the desire for something more. So, he would look to acquire something new or begin another project and the cycle would begin all over again.
He realized that after he had poured all his time and energy into pleasing himself, it was a complete waste of time. It was all “vanity and vexation of spirit” and there was no profit to it (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
To add to his discontent, he also worried about what would happen to all he had built after he was gone. He wondered whether his successor would be wise or foolish. This led him to state, “…therefore, I hated life” (Ecclesiastes. 2:17).
The phrase “said in my heart” is used over and over in this chapter. It means he was determined to try the pleasures of this world without seeking God’s will or testing anything through God’s Word. As a result, he ended up hating life.
The Bible tells us that Solomon had a heart problem. Not a physical ailment, but a spiritual one. “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).
We see this same thing today. The popular belief is that we should “follow our heart” in all matters in order to find joy and fulfillment. This philosophy has even crept into churches and is being taught as truth from many pulpits. Sadly, that’s not what Scripture says. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 15:19 that from our hearts proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. There is certainly no joy or happiness to be found in these things.
If our hearts are set on nothing but the pleasures of this world it will lead us to the same conclusion as Solomon reached. It will make us hate this life. The Bible’s remedy for believers that find themselves with this type of heart problem is found in Colossians 3:1-2. “If ye, then, be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
To be continued—next issue.