Solomon was the son of King David and Bathsheba (the former wife of Uriah). He inherited the throne of Israel in an era that was about 1000 B.C. Under the rule of Solomon, the kingdom of Israel became exceedingly wealthy, as God had blessed the lineage of David (1 Kings, chapters 4 and 10).

In his youth, Solomon learned to love and obey the Lord. He was given a wise and understanding heart and was also blessed by God with riches and honor unequaled by any other (1 Kings 3).

His many marriages with foreigners in disobedience to God caused his blessings to diminish: “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4). Verses following describe how he even came to worship and serve false gods: “And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord and went not fully after the
Lord” (verse 6).

His glorious reign foreshadows the future rule of Christ on this earth. The Queen of Sheba could not believe the reports of wisdom and wealth she had heard about Solomon. She went to Jerusalem to see for herself and returned from her visit to say that it was all so exceedingly abundant that “the half of it had never yet been told.” The words of this wealthy queen prefigure what God has in store for His children in Heaven, where “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Solomon wrote the books of Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and most of the book of Proverbs: “And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five” (1 Kings 4:32).

After all the good and glorious of this man is described for us, we are then disheartened to read of his disobedience and dissatisfactions. He “loved many strange women” (1 Kings 11:1) of nations that worshipped false gods. The astounding numbers (700 wives, princesses and 300 concubines) “turned away his heart” (verse 3) from the true and living God. As a result of the evil that Solomon had done in going after other gods, the Lord would
“rend the kingdom from thee” (verse 11).

The book of Proverbs is a declaration of the wisdom that God gave Solomon. In Ecclesiastes, we read the autobiography of Solomon’s foolishness in being drawn away from God. It is the philosophy of the human heart in unquenchable thirst for more happiness to the exclusion of the true God. Ecclesiastes records the absurdity of seeking fulfillment without God.

For you and me, it means something more tangible and personal than it was for Solomon. We are about 3,000 years further into the history of mankind than was Solomon.

Many events are recorded for us to comprehend in a Holy Bible that was completed over 400 years ago. God “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Solomon had more of this world’s wealth than any other has had and yet lusted for more. He validates the desperation of the human heart, yet you and I have been given even more, in a sense, than Solomon had. We are as pitiful as he if we neglect or reject the gift of Jesus Christ – with consequences more tragic and eternal in portent.

Solomon tried every avenue of endeavor that his heart could approach, along with the extent of any pleasure this world could offer. He ended life empty, purposeless and vain. We read the word “vanity” over 35 times in Ecclesiastes, as the writer presses the point of living life in “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) that we are admonished not to love.

Also, the key phrase “under the sun” is recorded 29 times. Solomon asks: “What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3) He looks in 2:11 upon all his works and labors “and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” It speaks of the one who lives life in the perplexing “squirrel-cage” of self – the endless pursuit always comes to naught. You and I will hold in our hands the futile shreds of a bitter life if we exclude Christ.

“Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works: for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?” (Ecclesiastes 3:22). It is all that can be realized in a life identified to this world’s environment and one lived as an animal, to the five sensations that our nervous system makes possible. The marvelous intricacies of our lives can be brought to the low level of dung and dust when mere human existence is our focus.

In the 12 chapters of this book, the word “better” is given 23 times. Solomon asks in 6:11, “Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?”

When he uses the word “better,” we seem to be kept into the constraints of this world: “because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry” (Ecclesiastes 8:15).

For the wholehearted believer in Jesus Christ, life is much better! Paul writes in Philippians 1:23: “and to be with Christ; which is far better.” In Philippians 2:3, he writes, “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” The writer to the Hebrews proclaims Christ “so much better than the angels” (1:4). He writes to the saved Hebrew of the better
“things that accompany salvation” in Hebrews 6:9. The hope that we have in Christ is a perfect and “better hope” (7:19).

In verse 22, we find that “Jesus (was) made a surety of a better testament” than the law of Moses. The gospel declares Christ to be “the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (8:6). Hebrews 10:34 assures “that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” In Christ, we are given a “better resurrection” in Hebrews 11:35.

Peter writes that it will be better for us if we will “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts … For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing” (1 Peter 3:15 and 17). David affirms in Psalm 63:3, “Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” Are you and I able to agree with that?

R.D. “Bob” Hottle is a retired schoolteacher, farmer and pastor of the Anchor Baptist Church.