10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
King Solomon had it all. He was rich. He was famous. He had more stuff than any king before him. He had entertainment, wine, women, property, and success on every side.
Interesting, isn’t it, that when he assessed what he had, he declared it all to be vanity. Like a little soap bubble that floats up, pops, and leaves no trace, so Solomon saw his success. If this life is all there is, there is absolutely no reason to think that success or failure matters. If this life is all that there is, Solomon had no reason for joy or hope.
What Solomon found is not unusual for people to see. Watch Hollywood. Read the stories of the rich and powerful whose lives are miserable. Watch stars and politicians who have everything they ever dreamed of getting fall prey to the folly of drugs, affairs, and generally self-destructive behavior. Why? Because they see that all that they have gained is empty.
Ecclesiastes would be a terrible book were it not for the conclusion. At the end of the day, Solomon understands that life’s only true meaning comes in being made by and serving a God who is far greater than you. Our only hope for lasting joy is found in the glory of the eternal God whose we are and to whom we owe all things.