Solomon gives a description of the ways in which he sought vainly after the chief good. He was placed at a great advantage, for he had a great mind, and vast resources at command: if he found no satisfaction when he had the whole world to ransack, how much less can common men hope to find it in their far narrower estates, and much more limited knowledge? There is no satisfaction apart from God.
He did not confine his researches to graver studies, but gathered all he could from the frivolities and insanities of human nature. We may consider him as devouring the lighter as well as the heavier literature of his times, and studying the comic side of things; yet the result was the same, the hunger of the soul was not satisfied with laughter any more than with hard study. So it ever must be. The library is not heaven, nor is the theatre of broad farce a Paradise.
In his mental fever he tossed from side to side, from grave to gay, sobriety to exhilaration, but found no rest, and how could he? for rest is in God alone.
But in wine there is madness and not happiness, as drunkards prove.
He had a fit of building, and it amused him till the works were completed, and then he was as discontented as before. Had he built high as Babel’s tower he would not have reached heaven.
But in all his gardens he could not grow the tree of life or the plant of content, and therefore he failed here also.
Ecclesiastes 2:7, 8
But in all his treasure houses, and halls of music, he could neither lay up the pearl of great price, nor hear the song of sweet peace. The poorest man of faith in his kingdom was happier far than he. Alas, poor rich Solomon!
But it remained only to make him more deeply feel the hollowness of earthly joys; it made the void in his heart the more manifest, and by its light he saw the more clearly the “darkness visible” in which he groped.
The little joy he felt in the pursuit of any one of his various objects vanished when he had realized it. He became a worn out man, jaded, yet altogether unable to take rest. He went round and round like a mill horse, harnessed to his toil, but never advancing beyond the weary circle of unrest. To know Jesus, to love God, to find satisfaction in heavenly things, this is wisdom, and the follies of Solomon should drive us thither. God grant it may be so.