The author of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, was depressed about the way his life had turned out. He concluded that all of life is vanity (a word he uses 37 times in the book) or worthless. He was convinced his entire existence had been nothing but a waste.
There are two very important things to remember about Solomon’s life though. First, Solomon’s life wasn’t a wasted one. In fact we see recorded in the pages of the Bible some of great things that were accomplished under his reign in Israel. During his administration the first Temple was built in Jerusalem as well as a palace. Trade relations were good with neighboring nations and Solomon had colonies established throughout much of what we call the Middle East. Solomon was also used of God to write three books of the Old Testament, the most popular of which, Proverbs, is still read on a daily basis by Christians the world over seeking the godly wisdom that he was blessed with.
The second thing we must remember about Solomon’s life is that his bitter mood was avoidable. In fact, he had brought it on himself.
In the book of 1 Kings we see what Solomon did to bring his spirit down. The Bible says “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods:” (I Kings 11:4) and “And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD,” (1 Kings 11:6). Solomon’s downfall was because he stopped serving the one true God and started following after the strange gods of his unbelieving wives. Here the man who wrote “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge:” (Proverbs 1:7) and “For the LORD giveth wisdom” (Proverbs 2:6) has now been brought to the place of complete and total depression and discouragement because he turned away from the Lord God and disregarded his own advice.
A person’s life is filled with inconsequential moments and memories. Without an eternal purpose it is easy for us to determine our lives as worthless or wasted just as Solomon concluded. In the example of Solomon though we see that one’s life is never wasted if it is given to the Lord. Today many thousands of years after Solomon’s death we are still reading his words and learning from his example.
A Christian missionary of the late 19th century, C. T. Studd, wrote a poem that perhaps sums life up the best. Though it is a long poem one stanza stands out and is oft repeated when we consider the impact of our lives. “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last” is the refrain repeated over and over by those of us who know it. See, a life may seem insignificant from this side of eternity, but when we see the Lord Jesus Christ what we have done for Him will be all that matters.