Being Elvis was not enough. He needed more. Why? You might think singing for a living would be satisfying. Throw in vast wealth, Graceland, being known as “the King” and worshiped around the world would pretty much cover all your needs. But all that was not enough. Why not? Solomon (introduced in Part 1) never met Elvis (so far as we know…. wink, wink…) but he applied himself to figure it out. There must be a reason we humans work so hard to achieve money, fame, power, pleasure, success – you name it – and when we do, we discover those things don’t satisfy.
He didn’t just read up on the topic; Solomon held his nose and cannon-balled into the quest. But nothing he tried was enough. Wisdom didn’t satisfy:
I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief (Ecclesiastes 1:16-18)
Carnal pleasure didn’t satisfy. His life that would have been the envy of Donald Trump, Hugh Hefner and Bill Gates:
1 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives. 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil. (Ecclesiastes 2:1-10)
And yet, none of that was enough:
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:11)
Why is it that none of these things we strive for pay off in a lasting, satisfying way? You can read ahead in Ecclesiastes to discover what Solomon concluded. Hint: One is the “D word,” the great equalizer that awaits us all. The second thing is a matter of having the wrong perspective. There is a solution.
See you next time…