“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
He was rich in wealth and wisdom. He had no equal. And yet, when we take a closer look at his life, we may end up saying: “Poor Solomon.”
“Solomon” means peace. But for much of his life, no peace could he find. We would not want to be like him.
Oh, we would like some of that wealth, and it would be nice to be honored like him. But we would hate to be as miserable as he came to be.
If we ask, “How could he be so unhappy with all that he had?” he answers in the book of the Bible called “Ecclesiastes.”
The opening words are striking: “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” How did he come to that sad conclusion?
He was bored: “What has been will be again, what has been done,” he wrote, “will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (1:9)
He discovered wisdom did not bring happiness. He reports: “With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” (1:18)
So, he undertook great projects. He built houses, planted trees, bought livestock, and piled up gold and silver. “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.” (2:10)
The result? “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.” (2:18)
He came to the conclusion: “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.” (2:24)
So, the king who has it all is no better off than a common laborer.
Then, he shared some words of wisdom: “To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness….”
Happiness, he learned, is a gift from God. It is not something we can make for ourselves.
And then a warning: “…but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.” (2:26)
This, he would tell us, is truly a meaningless life.
His words may surprise us. We don’t expect this from the son of the great King David and the builder of the great temple in Jerusalem. Had he not impressed even the Queen of Sheba?
Yet, much of his life was empty. There may have been peace throughout his kingdom during those years, but no peace was found in his heart and soul. Poor Solomon!
But there is more to his story. It turns out, one of his descendants was the very Prince of peace.
Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God and son of Mary, from the line of David and Solomon, was the answer to Solomon’s emptiness—and ours.
What is the greatest thing the great King Solomon accomplished in life? Wrong question!
Rather, “What is the greatest thing God accomplished through Solomon?”
The answer must be: “God used Solomon, with all of his strengths and weaknesses, with all of his wealth and wisdom—God used the man with the name, “Peace” to bring the Prince of peace to the earth.
Rest in peace, Solomon! You now share in the endless wealth, power, and glory of your Savior.
One day, because of your distant Son, we will too.
Lord Jesus, your death and resurrection give us peace of heart, mind, and soul. Accept our words of thanksgiving and our labors of love. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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