What do you do when you really want to treat yourself and unwind? For me, I like to have a big dinner, watch a movie on the telly and eat chocolate. And if you know me at all, you know I'll probably be fast asleep before the movie's over! Bliss!
Solomon embarks on his experiment to try out the things people do to be happy to see if they really work. He fully throws himself into them but all the time he's using his wisdom to evaluate the satisfaction he can ultimately gain from what he's doing. All the time he's coming back to our question - 'What's the point?' Each time he tries something new, he's wondering - 'Could this really be it?' and every time he's disappointed.
First he tries fun, drinking and partying and he throws himself into having some crazy fun times but still using his wisdom he realises that although fun for a while, it's ultimately not the point of life. He couldn't see that it achieved anything significant and was left feeling empty.
Then he tries money, stuff and power. He was rich and always developing new enterprises and earning respect as well as cash. He had everything money could buy and was more powerful than anyone before him and yet still he was left feeling empty and using his wisdom he realised that this too was not what life is all about.
Lots of people in our world seem like they are satisfied with these things though. Or at least they're happy to keep running after them. Maybe even you and I are more satisfied with them than we should be! Partying, fun times, alcohol, money, power, stuff. So many of us are happy to chase after these things yet Solomon's wisdom reminds us that this is not the point of life. In verse 10 he says that his heart took delight in all his work. Although he had fun in what he did and was glad to achieve things, he had the wisdom to see that all his accomplishments were in fact very small in the big picture and none of them would be enough to bring complete satisfaction in life. The fun he felt at the time was the total reward for all his efforts and when the moment had passed, there was nothing of any significance to show for it. It was all like chasing the wind - pointless. Nothing was gained under the sun.
We could learn a lot from this perspective today. What is it that you and I chase after 'under the sun'? In this world we enjoy many things but their pleasure passes quickly and we have nothing to show for it. We're left feeling empty and wondering what the point of life really is. I'm not saying that these things are bad necessarily (Solomon doesn't), but they're not the main thing. We need to be chasing after something else but what is it? None of these things Solomon has looked at so far have been enough to satisfy and many people after Solomon have discovered the same. What do you chase after? Is it more satisfying than the things Solomon found to be a waste of time - like chasing the wind?
Ask God to give you perspective today. Thank him for the things you enjoy and achieve but also ask his help to make sure you don't make these things the main focus of your life because ultimately, they don't measure up. Ask God to show you what you should be chasing after as we keep reading Ecclesiastes together. Life's got to be more than food, movies and chocolate!