Solomon laments how the pleasures of this world and chasing after things comes to naught; nothing. It is all “chasing after wind.”
We were told earlier how Solomon tried to search out all there was to know in this world, including madness and folly. Here he adds happiness and desire to his search list. Still, he comes up lacking in fulfillment.
While reading this, I was struck by the fact that Solomon is writing this late in life. He has sampled all the pleasures life had to offer. MORE than sampled really. He emersed himself in building projects, lavished himself with riches and women, and chased after ANYTHING he thought might bring him pleasure. In ALL this searching, he STILL had the wisdom God had granted him. And he used it to his credit but not to his advantage.
What I’m saying is that, Solomon KNEW God’s Law. He KNEW God’s rules about intermarrying. He KNEW about God’s command not to enter into alliances with Egypt. He even KNEW about God’s requirements for kings; especially the one about not having many wives. ALL of these he KNEW, yet, he disobeyed. He had the wisdom to foresee the troubles that lay ahead, yet he walked whatever path gave him pleasure at the moment. He used the wisdom God gave him to rule the people but not his own life. He used the wisdom to construct great things but not to construct a lasting relationship with the Author of that wisdom. I would say he had wisdom without understanding. For if he TRULY understood what he was turning away from, he would have crumbled to his knees in repentance.
Solomon was empty. Nothing he had done brought him real joy or peace. Yes, all that he had constructed would stand for a time, but even that would eventually crumble. He could see his own emptiness and his heart was weighed down by the loss.
THIS WORLD CANNOT SATISFY YOU. Anyone who puts their trust in this world will end up just as disheartened as Solomon. A man who had it all and it amounted to nothing to him in the end. HE is the one who has said this. He is not a forgotten man in the annals of history. Israel still points back to that first Temple built for God and would love to re-create it. Kings still hold his fame and riches as the highest measure of success. Men still count him as the wisest man to ever rule. And some even envy his ‘bedroom prowess’ to keep so many wives and concubines. But how many actually hear how empty he is after all this is weighed? I’m hopeful that he learns this before his death and returns to the Lord.
Solomon was a son of David; the king who God called “a man after My own heart.” A man who loved God with abandon and KNEW firsthand the joys of a relationship with Him. A man whose dying wish was to construct a permanent home for the Lord. I am fully convinced that David taught his son about the Lord. Solomon’s own request proves that.
Just a quick sidenote. Did you notice what Solomon had done in the days before God appeared to him in a dream and he made his famous request? He made an alliance with Pharaoh of Egypt and married Pharaoh’s daughter in this deal. Two things God told Israel NOT to do. Yet, we are told that Solomon loved the Lord. “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places” (1 Kings 3:3). The night of God’s appearance to Solomon, he had made a HUGE sacrifice at Gibeon, which was considered the most holy high place for this is where the Tabernacle was. God honored Solomon’s heart for his current walk, not his past mistakes; even if Solomon didn’t consider them ‘mistakes.’
Did Solomon somehow rationalize his earlier actions? Why didn’t God deal with Solomon’s sin first? I don’t have any answers for these questions concerning God other than to say, He is God and I am not. I am certain though that if I needed the answers, He would provide them. The answer I DO have and hold fast to is this: WITH God my life has meaning and purpose. Without Him it is as empty as the Tin Man’s chest in the Wizard of Oz.
Father God, THANK YOU for filling my heart with You Holy Spirit. Even when I’m feeling low, I KNOW I’m not alone. NOTHING in this world can satisfy my soul. It’s only You and our relationship that will last. In THIS, there is NO chasing after wind. Only running through the breeze with You with my hair flying behind me!