The Human Pursuit of Happiness
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 APM
Whatever my eyes looked at with desire I did not refuse them. I did not withhold from my heart any pleasure, for my heart was please because of all my labor; and this was my reward for all my labor. Then I considered all which my hands had done and labored to do, and behold, all was vanity and chasing after the wind and there was no profit (nothing of lasting value) under the sun.
I can recall countless times when I get super excited to purchase a new item that I really want. I spend hours researching and looking up reviews to make sure it's the right fit. I finally get the item and I am super elated for the first few days or weeks. After a while, the excitement wore off and I am already looking into the next thing to buy.
King Solomon had everything he possibly could have wanted. He had servants, women, beautiful homes and architecture, riches, and wisdom. There was no other before him in Jerusalem who had more possessions and he did not withhold any pleasure from himself that his heart desired.
Despite all this, the very first words that Solomon says in Ecclesiastes are "Vanities of vanities". The word vanity in this verse is translated as the Hebrew word "hebel" which means vapor or empty. Many of us are in the pursuit of wealth, honor, popularity, and power, however, these things do not fill the emptiness in our hearts. They are all meaningless at the end of the day. Once we leave the earth, our possessions have to stay here.
There are three verses in the Bible that speak of how to obtain happiness.
Psalm 144:15 NKVJ Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!
1. You are happy when you have made God the ruler over your life.
Proverbs 16:20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.
2. You are happy when you trust God.
Proverbs 20:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.
3. You are happy when you keep God's commandments.
Solomons realizes in old age that although he had everything he possibly could have wanted, it was all empty apart from knowing God. Solomon's downfall was that his heart strayed away from the Lord. Our true happiness is not connected to what the world can offer us, but it is connected to knowing and loving our Savior. Bouts of happiness and discontentment are to be expected in this life. God does give us good gifts so that we may enjoy life, but they are not to be made idols. What is more exciting is the eternal paradise that awaits those who love God. When we get to enjoy life forever without the damaging effects of sin, that is true happiness.
For now, let us enjoy the life God has given us and anticipate a life of eternity with Him.