Millions seek the white lights of pleasure, and night after night fill the palaces of make-believe. There they find that laughter and song are but tinsel covering jaded souls and broken hearts. The lights flicker out into the darkest night, and the music fades away into a sob. The world is ever seeking happiness but seldom finding it, like the boy who chases a rainbow. Many, rushing on through life pursuing the will-o’ the wisp of joy, find their hair turning white, their shoulders beginning to stoop, wrinkles stealing across their faces, their steps faltering. There is a sigh and outstretched hand at last, and they reach the end of the journey – with happiness still beyond.
Solomon, the world’s wise man, joined in the search for happiness. He tried everything. He said, “I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.” Ecclesiastes 1:13. Did he make a complete search? Did he succeed? We read on: “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Verse 14. He was the wisest man of his age, the leading scientist of his day, the world’s greatest botanist. “He spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springs out of the wall.” He was the greatest authority of his time on zoology, ornithology, herpetology, and ichthyology. He also spoke of beasts, and the of fowl, and creeping things, and of fishes.” I Kings 4:33.
He was a literary genius, a walking encyclopedia. “He spake three thousand proverbs.” He was one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived. “His songs were a thousand and give.” I Kings 4:32. He was the world’s leading bibliophile. He gathered the literary treasures of past time into his great library. Still, as he burned the midnight oil of research, he said with a sigh, “Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12.
He also tasted every physical and mental joy of life. “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceedingly much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore.” I Kings 4:29. He stood at the peak of wisdom. When the Queen of Sheba journeyed to his court to hear his knowledge, she said the other half was never told her. (I Kings 10:7.) But did all things bring him happiness? No. He said, In much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:18.
Then Solomon tied wealth. According to the Scripture record, he was worth millions. I Kings 10:21, 27. Did riches bring him happiness? He says, “He that trusts in his riches shall fall.” Proverbs 111:28 and “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Proverbs 22:1.
All this is just a fraction of who Solomon was, and even at this, Solomon said, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 12:8. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit.” Ecclesiastes 2:11 No, the wise man did not find happiness in pleasure or activity.
Solomon’s example is at once a warning and an inspiration, for though his efforts to find happiness through the devices of this world, through the gifts of intellect, failed, he did find true happiness at last: “He that keeps the law,” wrote Solomon. “Happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18. He found happiness in obedience to God. In his old age, he sat down and wrote out his final advice on the subject: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.
These are almost the same words that we find in Revelation 22:14: “Blessed, are they that do his commandments.” The word blessed in both the Old and New Testaments carries one of its strongest meanings, “Happiness” or “happy.” Thus the scriptures could well read, Happy are they that do his commandments.”
Solomon’s life contrasts between perceived happiness and true happiness, which is only found through Christ. Therefore, each day, we have a decision to make. Do we look to Christ or the things of this world to bring us happiness?