Dear Bob, Thanks for sharing your opinion piece in the Villager on February 13th quoting Steve Jobs’ essay about how he did not find satisfaction at the end of his life from his success and wealth. This is a life lesson of which we should always be mindful. As human beings, we look for fulfillment in our jobs, our belongings, cleverness, or perhaps from power or pleasure. But one thing for sure, we all seek it. But Steve’s missive is not new. Someone even more wealthy and more successful reached the same conclusion over 3,000 years ago.Solomon was the son of King David and ruled Israel for 40 years through its “Golden Age.” In Ecclesiastes, Solomon reflects on his life and reached a conclusion similar to that of Steve Jobs.
As the sovereign ruler of the people of Israel, Solomon enjoyed great power and political influence. He negotiated treaties with neighboring countries and maintained mostly peaceful relations with his neighbors during the decades of his reign. Yet in Ecclesiastes 1:2 he says this about power and influence. “Meaningless! Utterly meaningless!”
Never in the history of the world has anyone had greater wealth and possessions than Solomon. His annual income was in the range of a half billion dollars per year, tax-free. In 1000 BC that was a significant income. Solomon’s net worth was in the range of $20 billion not counting his real estate holdings which included palaces, stables, gardens, parks, and storehouses filled with stuff. He owned flocks, herds, orchards, vineyards, and chariots. But here is his assessment of his wealth: “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth, is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10.
Nowadays we think we are a pretty smart people, but the wisdom of Solomon is legendary. Solomon had an encounter with God, in which God offered him an envious opportunity: God said “ask for whatever you want me to give you”. Solomon simply asked: “give me wisdom and knowledge that I may lead this people”. (I wish our leaders would ask for that.) Solomon’s intellectual capabilities became world famous. People traveled for all over the known world to Jerusalem to seek the “Wisdom of Solomon.” Yet when we look at his assessment of his great wisdom we read, “What then do I gain by being wise? This too is meaningless.” ECC 2:15
Solomon became a Hedonist – a seeker of pleasure. But Solomon had the ability to pursue pleasure to a degree that few of us could ever dream of. In Ecclesiastes 2:10, Solomon says, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired.” He had the best wine, clothes, homes, and harem of 300 concubines, and 700 wives. Yet he said in Ecclesiastes 2:11, “everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind”.
At the end of his reflection, Solomon drew this conclusion: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments”
So, as we look for fulfillment, remember the wisdom of Steve and Solomon and perhaps Saint Mark who told us to love the Lord with all your heart and soul and your neighbor as yourself.
Bob Brooks, Elder Highline Community Church Greenwood Village
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |