Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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What was wrong with King Solomon? In his Holy Book of Ecclesiastes, he didn’t seem satisfied not even with the good things that God had given him. For example, he called the wisdom God had given him vanity. Could you please explain?

When Solomon became king, he asked God for wisdom; thus becoming the wisest man in the world. Kings and leaders from other nations came to Jerusalem to learn from him. Nevertheless, with all of his practical insight into life, Solomon failed to apply it to his life; and he began to distance himself from God. Near the end of his life, Solomon looked back upon his life with an attitude of humility and repentance. Solomon reflected on how most of his life was meaningless because he did not rely on God, as he should have. He wrote about the world as he experienced it, hoping to spare future generations the bitterness of learning through trial and error. He stressed the fact that everything in life apart from God is empty, hollow and meaningless.

Also, Solomon discovered  that human wisdom, even that of a godly person has limits (Eccl 1:13,16-18; 7:24; 8:16-18) This wisdom, detached from God, cannot find out God's greater purpose nor the ultimate meaning of Man's existence. Men and animals share the same ending; since both die and return to dust.

In Holy Book of Eccl 3:19-21 therefore, humans and animals are alike in that respect. But Solomon acknowledged that God has given people the hope for eternity and that we will undergo judgment in the next life (Eccl 3:17; 112:7,14) which differentiates us from animals. Because man has eternity set in his heart, he has a unique purpose in God's overall plan. Yet we cannot discover God's purpose for our lives by our own efforts; but only through building a relationship with Him and seeking His guidance.

Solomon, in his book, was trying to direct our hopes to the only One who can truly fulfill them. He affirms the value of knowledge, relationships, work and pleasure; but only in their proper place. All of these temporal things in life must be seen in light of the eternal. The message he gives at the end of the book is clear, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all (Eccl 12:13).
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