“This was my reward”
Ecclesiastes again attracted our meditation. The reminisces of the wisest of kings, Solomon, on the nature of his life’s achievements are thought provoking. He was blessed with a special dispensation of wisdom, but what is wisdom? One evidence of it is the Proverbs Solomon wrote. As we read Ecclesiastes we perceive the exercise of his wisdom in a material way followed by his reflections on this from a human perspective.
His second chapter details how Solomon uses his wisdom to accomplish everything physically possible, “… my heart still guiding me with wisdom … I made great works, I built houses and planted vineyards … made myself gardens and parks and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water … had slaves … also great possessions of herds … also gathered for myself silver and gold … I got singers … many concubines … so I became great and surpassed all who were before me … whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure … this was my reward for all my toil” (verses 3-11). Note that comment! “This was my reward” – but we noted even more his next comment, “then I considered all that I had done and the toil I had expended”. And what is the outcome of this wisest man’s consideration?
“Behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind”. Other versions have, “I saw everything was emptiness and chasing the wind” (NEB) “meaningless” (NIV) You cannot grasp the wind, Solomon is seeing that life has no lasting substance, yet we all strive after things we can possess, but at the end of the day there is nothing ‘eternal’ in what we have achieved!
Then Solomon makes an astonishing declaration (verse 17) “so I hated life” – this was because he came to see it as ‘meaningless’ from an eternal perspective. Solomon lacked the clear vision his father David possessed. Look at Psalm 17 where David comments on the “men of the world whose portion is in this life” (verse 14), but he ends the Psalm by stating, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (verse 15). David rejoiced in that vision, he also knew it would be only because of God’s “mercy” and because “you (God) teach me wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:1,6). A diligent and meditative reading of the scriptures teach our hearts this wisdom, it is “the wisdom from above” (James 3:17,18) – and reveals the time of eternal satisfaction to come for those who embrace that wisdom.