Ecclesiastes 2:17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Although we know that the Bible is true, sometimes we read things in it that just don’t seem to compute. They make us scratch our heads in bewilderment. Take for instance this verse in Ecclesiastes. This verse was written by Solomon. I want us to focus on those first four words, “Therefore I hated life…” We can understand if this was a phrase uttered by someone like Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus Christ. We could probably understand this in many of the lives of the people of the Bible who struggled or were involved in sinful actions and had made a mess of their life. But none of these types of people are the one who God used to author this verse.
This is written by Solomon. Yes, that Solomon. Solomon, David’s son. Solomon, the King of Israel. Solomon, the one who was given the opportunity by God to ask Him for anything, and who chose wisdom and an understanding heart to lead God’s people. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. Solomon, one of the richest men who ever lived. Solomon, the one God used to build the magnificent temple. His list of spiritual, practical, and diplomatic successes could go on and on.
There are those who would look at Solomon and his successes from a more worldly standpoint. He had an abundance of wealth. He had any woman he ever wanted, with over 700 wives and 300 concubines. He had an exalted position of power and authority. And as you read the book of Ecclesiastes, you see that Solomon gave to himself the gift of anything that he desired or wanted. From any angle you view it, Solomon looked like he had the life that anybody would want to have.
So when reading that phrase, “Therefore I hated life,” it does not make sense to most of us. The fact of the matter is that when reading the book of Ecclesiastes, especially the first few chapters, none of it seems to make sense to us. Solomon’s description of life, and particularly his life, doesn’t appear to add up with everything that was going on in his life. He had the life that most people could only dream of having. In fact, there’s a darkness and a discouragement in his words that clearly leads to the natural conclusion of his hatred of the life he was living.
So, what’s the lesson for us? It’s very simple: let’s avoid the path of Solomon that led to him hating life. You see, it was the very type of life that he was leading that led directly to his hatred of it. And what was that type of life? A life of selfishness. A life of sensuality. A life of securing anything he thought would bring him joy and happiness. After getting everything he could ever want, after having any woman he desired, after securing every item he ever fancied, the result was devastating.
That’s the warning to us. That’s the message for us. Life does not consist of that which we possess. Joy doesn’t come from getting what we want. The problem is, we are looking for significance and security from that which could never give it to us. The flaw of mankind is that we look to position, power, people, prestige, and possessions for that which we can only find in God. The way to hate life is to live selfishly, trying to attain anything your heart could wish for.
So, what’s the answer? Just follow God’s way. Just follow God’s will. Just desire to have that close, intimate relationship with God that He wants you to have. That will keep your heart right. That will keep your desires in check. That will keep your priorities straight. That will keep you on the right path. That will give you joy even in joyless situations. That will endure even after everything you thought would bring you happiness is gone. The real answer is found in the book of Psalms:
Psalms 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
The success of the men of faith, their efforts, and their courage, came because they had something in common, they were people who lived in the Word of God.
God uses the authority in our life to help us, to protect us, and to direct us in life.