Not only was King Solomon the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:12); he was also blessed with wealth beyond imagination and the privilege of building God’s temple. So we might expect him to know deep contentment.
Toward that end, Solomon devoted himself to studying and exploring all kinds of things. Ecclesiastes tells us that he indulged in the world’s pleasures, even dabbling in pursuits he recognized as folly to see if there was anything worthwhile in them. But the satisfaction Solomon sought evaded him, and he concluded that self-indulgence was without value.
The king tried another avenue to find fulfillment: personal achievement. He undertook great projects, such as building houses for himself, improving the environment with gardens and parks, and carrying out an extensive irrigation project (Eccl. 2:6). The king had everything he could ever need to enjoy life, but in the end, he found it all without meaning.
The story has a familiar ring, doesn’t it? Our world has many highly educated and successful people, but there is also much dissatisfaction with life. Our culture pursues pleasure and does not accept limits on its passions. Sadly, such lack of restraint has ruined countless lives.
Solomon had the wisdom and resources to accomplish whatever he chose to do. Yet the goals he pursued brought no lasting satisfaction. He concluded that the best course was to obey God (12:13). True enjoyment comes when we align ourselves with His will. Any other way is meaningless.