People often get excited by the prospect of a new leader. When Tony Blair came into power, his line was - 'Things can only get better' but the same line was used against him as he moved on and Gordon Brown took over. Take a look at this short clip...
Solomon says wisdom is much better than money, youth or age but when people are fed up with the leadership (as they often are), it's the often the new young and wise leader that they want instead. Solomon says this is meaningless because history shows that people quickly get just as fed up with the new leader as they were with the old one. They get their hopes up for nothing because they get excited about another person who ultimately will disappoint them. The point of life is not about finding the next best leader.
Solomon is in the middle of listing a whole bunch of stuff that seems meaningless. The endless cycle of leaders rising to power and then falling again is just another example of something people put their hopes in that won't change anything in eternity. It's like chasing the wind.
Maybe we should leave it there but I wonder if there's a mini-application as we look at these verses in isolation (always risky!). I wonder if there's something here about the way we view our own leaders and those in authority over us at work or anywhere else. One danger is that we fall into the trap of popular opinion and constantly complain about our leaders or get excited by the prospect of new people coming in. In other words - we put too much value in something that won't change eternity. Another danger is that we do the opposite and get apathetic about our leaders and just let them get on with it whilst we take no interest whatsoever. In other words - we ignore something that makes a difference now. I know this is the danger I'm more prone to.
Maybe what we ought to be doing is taking an active interest in our leaders without getting swept along by what most people are saying. Maybe we should look for wisdom in our leaders and support them. How often do we pray for wisdom for our line managers, our bosses, our parents, our government? Maybe we should do it more.