The ancient Israelite King Solomon possessed huge amounts of gold and silver and plenty of women. He took whatever he wanted. He “had it all.” He thought he had all he needed to fulfill his desires and feel satisfied. But was he happy?
Toward the end of his life, Solomon confessed that he had been miserable the entire time. He hated life! He discovered one of the great lessons that God is teaching His loyal people today and will soon teach all mankind.
Did you know there are ways and rules and laws for loving life? The first goal of your life must be to find the right goal! Then, you need proper education for achieving that goal—a goal that is inspiring and hopeful above any other.
Solomon chose the wrong life goal, meaning his supplementary education was all off too. His grand experiment in worldliness failed.
Let’s examine the lowlights from his hard life experience. “I said to myself, Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; … I made great works; I built houses and planted vineyards for myself; I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. … I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces; I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, man’s delight” (Ecclesiastes 2:1, 4-5, 7-8; Revised Standard Version). Are these the things you need to be happy?
“So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; … And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure …” (verses 9-10; RSV). Probably no one has ever been able to experiment with life’s finer things the way Solomon did!
God allowed Solomon his way. He used Solomon’s example to record a valuable lesson for all mankind. But look around you. This world is striving for the same wrong goal that Solomon chose. Most billionaires today have failed to heed this lesson, which Solomon was forced to learn the hard way. They think and he thought, Whatever your pleasure is, just go out and enjoy it! We must be careful not to think this way.
Notice Solomon’s sad realization after a lifetime of extreme self-gratification: “Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11; RSV). He had gained seemingly everything, yet finally realized he possessed nothing of value! It was as if he had clutched and grasped all around, only to end up with a handful of wind! His endless possessions amounted only to vanity.
Naturally, we would assume that someone like Solomon was really happy! Do we realize how worthless our lives are if we seek only physical things?
“So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me …” (verse 17; RSV). Solomon’s life became grievous! He was so wrapped up in selfishness, he started to hate life!
Up to this point, Solomon’s life had been a waste. Is this the kind of life God wants us to live? Of course not!
The late Ambassador College founder Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about being acquaintances with all kinds of millionaires, bankers, industrialists, merchants, statesmen and other successful people. For the most part, he observed, these high-level professionals never found real happiness! Almost everyone on the planet just tries to get what he can during this physical life, with little consideration for anything more than that. Living this way can provide fleeting interest and moments of pleasure, but it won’t produce anything lasting in the end.
Solomon’s life goal was material prosperity. He was passionate about indulging as much as possible in physical pleasures. But this approach made him hate life!
Stop and think for a moment. God is real. He created you and your mind. He allows you to live your life however you choose. In fact, He requires you to choose. But almost everybody makes the wrong choice.
The world has this upside down. The curricula of worldly educational institutions never address life’s most important questions: Why were you born? What are you? Who are you? What is your purpose? We all must answer these questions about ourselves, yet the world gives us none of the answers!
I remember the famous actor Marlon Brando basically saying near the end of his life, During my last dying breath, I’m sure I will ask, “What was that all about?” This man had everything—except happiness.
“Looking out for No. 1,” or yourself, is a hideous way to live! Most people just can’t see past material things! This is total selfishness.
God advises us to lift up our eyes and seek the spiritual (Psalm 8:1-5). He wants to give you rule over the whole universe! That’s the incredible human potential! (Request our free book by the same title.)
If covetousness ever gets a grip on you, you have to work extremely hard to tear it out of your life. When I was a young man, Mr. Armstrong helped me to understand this lesson. I had to work to uproot my self-will and establish the right goal. I experienced trials and tests, as do all who follow God. This has never been easy for me, but it sure is rewarding. It brings so much happiness. You can overcome materialism through real effort and the power of God. Really, He will do it for you, if you willingly submit to Him.
In the Bible, God says your life should be surcharged with beaming joy and sparkling personality! Do you see much of these qualities in the world?
Mr. Armstrong wrote about how observing God’s physical and spiritual laws produces the abundant happiness we all seek. (Request his free booklet The Seven Laws of Success to learn how.) He also coined the term “free moral agency.” Without this, we all would be like robots, obeying God automatically and having no chance to choose between right and wrong.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). One way brings blessings; the other brings curses. Choose life!
God wants you to build His character by choosing the right way and resisting the wrong way! He will show you the true values. It’s up to you to choose them. Solomon chose wrong and suffered for it. Break God’s laws, and they will break you, even if you are ignorant of them. These laws are now in effect and exact a penalty when violated. You can’t truly enjoy physical things unless you choose life!
This is not God’s world! Curses are everywhere! Satan and the demons damaged the universe by attempting to overthrow God (Ezekiel 28:12-17; Isaiah 14:12-15). Ever since, God’s creation has been waiting for you to repair and beautify it! If we don’t choose life, we are merely a chemical existence, with no hope for the future. Only the proper life goal will lead us somewhere beyond vanity and a handful of wind.
“Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold” (Proverbs 8:10). Solomon wrote this near the end of his life, when he was finally back in his right mind. Godly wisdom far exceeds gold, silver, diamonds and treasure! But most people would take the money. Solomon possessed lots of wisdom and lots of wealth. He knew which was better.
“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding” (Proverbs 3:13). “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; … Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her” (Proverbs 4:5, 7-8). Solomon repeatedly urges us to claim godly wisdom whenever it’s available! He is giving us the key to happiness!
Set the right goal: God’s Kingdom. There will be trials and tests because God wants to ensure you don’t turn out like Lucifer, who was once a happy archangel before rebelling and becoming Satan.
God is re-creating Himself in man! That’s the ultimate creation! Even God can’t create something greater than that! What a wonderful vision!
Remember what Solomon said to himself: “Come now, I will make a test of pleasure …” (Ecclesiastes 2:1; RSV). He tried to find happiness through extravagant physical pleasures! It didn’t work! Because of the coronavirus, we have lost all of our sports. It’s obvious that many people are becoming unhinged without this great pleasure. Do you want to live life this dependent on physical things?
Turn away from ritualistic religion that lacks real power. If you keep God’s laws, He will give you the power to be extremely, supremely happy!