“This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:25-26)
Ecclesiastes presents a rather sobering view of wisdom from the heart of King Solomon borne out of a life of experience, sorrow and trouble. Early in his life he asked God to grant him wisdom (1 Kings 3:6-9) so that he could rule the Lord’s people with justice and mercy. The Lord gave it to him, but not instantaneously. Solomon had to seek wisdom through study, observation and experience. He developed a thirst for knowledge to try and find the meaning of life through a wide variety of experiences: food, drink, entertainment, and sexual excess. When these failed to satisfy he threw himself into his work. As great as his deeds were, they did not satisfy; he realized that after he died he would not be able to ensure that his legacy would be used properly. Someone else would come along too foolish to know better and all his work and energy would have gone for nothing.
If we are wise we will see that Solomon’s desires and experiences reflect the general trend of our own modern society. The media and popular advertising all convey the message that the meaning and purpose of life is rooted in sensual experience. Daily we are bombarded by ads and messages that tell us that the greatest pleasure in life is to be found in thr sensuality f sexual activity. We are encouraged to pursue it and enhance it in order to draw from it as much as we can. People also seek meaning and purpose in various entertainments and experiences that give them an adrenalin rush, or they overindulge in food or drink. Many seek satisfaction in their jobs, in creating things or accumulating wealth, possessions or fame. They rarely stop to think about the long term merit or value of any of these things even when faced with their own mortality. Peace and contentment are found only in a life lived for the Lord. Wisdom is demonstrated only from living a life dedicated to the Lord.