What does the wisest man who ever lived have to say about life?
(Friendly warning: Hold on to your positive attitude before you take a look at this.)
Solomon, supposedly the wisest man who ever lived, credited author of three books in the Bible, and a king of Israel following in the sandals of his daddio David, marked the end of his life on a very negative note. The book of Ecclesiastes, the last of Solomon’s platitudes says (more times than I like to hear) that “Everything is meaningless.”
Why so negative Mr. Solomon?
Brilliant theologians and people who study this stuff will say that Solomon had been there and tried it all. He was rich, powerful, and had the world at his disposal, and none of that filled his cup and gave him the sense of worth and importance one might expect. Therefore, after having experienced it all, Solomon is the most qualified to call it all a bunch of you-know-what and pronounce the verdict of MEANINGLESS on EVERYTHING.
Personally, I think he’s being a bit harsh.
(And you didn’t hear it from me, but having over 700 wives and 300 girlfriends could sour anyone’s take on life.)
Have you read Ecclesiastes? The first two chapters are definitely NOT the place to start if you’re depressed. There is one thing I’d like to point out, though. Out of all his belittling of life and stark negativity, Solomon does have some gems.
There’s a time for everything.
Two are better than one.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
“Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, incuding every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Eccl. 12:13-14, NIV)
Whoa, where’d that come from?
I mean, why would he go there instead of the more existential approach of why bother? After all, if everything is meaningless, why exactly should we put the effort into obedience?
And that is the question to ponder.
A few years ago, my life took a very negative turn. I was depressed, looking for a way out, and ready to throw in my faithful towel for something more gratifying. I would have too, but I believe this stuff, so in the face of my unhappiness and struggles, I decided I would obey, despite the pain and suffering it would surely bring. I figured I would do the “right” thing, and then once I could prove my point (that simple obedience doesn’t help), I would stand up and shout and throw off the chains of obedience to run into the arms of immediate gratification.
It didn’t work out that way, though.
I stayed when everything in me wanted to run, and what I found out was that God is faithful and very real. My life turned around, and now I think I just might be the most blessed person ever, and I didn’t really do anything special. I just did what he told me to do. I followed Solomon’s wise advice. I obeyed.
It’s not rocket science, and it might not make much sense in light of today’s progressive YOLO world, but it made a difference for me.