Contentment Not In The Fast Lane

W. Terry Varner
August 4, 2013

Innate within man is the need or quest for something that meets our inner needs that produces contentment. We all long for that “secret” ingredient of life wherein we can delight anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstance. It is contentment and for those who find it, it is a tremendous blessing. Many through time, like Solomon, search for contentment in many ways.

The pursuit of pleasure. The philosophical name for pleasure is hedonism. Solomon examined pleasure. “I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good’” (Eccl. 2:1, NASB). A lot of things result from pleasure, but the result is temporary. What fisherman does not find great pleasure in being on the water trying to catch a fish? What hunter does not enjoy the quest of being in the woods at the right time and in the right place to bag his prey? Some find pleasure in amusement parks, traveling, ball games, etc. But when all is said and done that type of “contentment” (pleasure) is temporary. Solomon described it as, “proved to be meaningless” (Eccl. 2:10). He also said, “Like a crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools” (Eccl. 7:6). Laughter, while beneficial, is temporary and leaves us unfulfilled. Do not misunderstand Solomon. He is not saying laughter is wrong, and nowhere does the Bible teach that it is wrong. It is the principle that laughter is empty, meaningless, and fails to satisfy with contentment that lasts.

The pursuit of projects. Solomon took 13 years to build his own house (2 Kings 7:1). He took seven years build God’s temple (1 Kings 6:38). Solomon built houses for his many wives. He built gardens, parks, and orchards (Eccl. 2:4-6). Solomon had many servant to do his work. He had herds and flocks greater than anyone in Jerusalem, as well as, silver, gold, bands, and a harem to the delight of his heart (2:7-8). Sounds to me like a very modern 21st century citizen.

It is said that the Roman Emperor Nero found Rome a “city of bricks” and left it a “city of marble.” While it benefited Rome and the nation, he was simply indulging himself.

The pursuit of prestige. Solomon writes: “Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. And all that my eyes desired laid not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor... all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after the wind and there was no profit under the sun” (Eccl. 2:9-11). Solomon is honest in reporting about his life. He became greater than anyone in Jerusalem. However, he did not lose himself in his search for contentment. His wisdom stayed with him; i.e. he was able to keep his objectivity and to evaluate and assess the value of things he pursued. He found only momentary reward for his work. His “heart was pleased because of all my labor.” Yet, Solomon concluded that it was really nothing more than “striving after the wind” and in the end, “there was no profit under the sun. All that Solomon realized and accomplished, he understood it did not satisfy. It was meaningless or vanity. It did not and could delight his soul. Apparently, fame among the general populace failed to satisfy. Whatever he did, and as many times as he repeated it. he enjoyed it less and less. What man enjoys more, resulting in the contentment and delight of the soul, and that lasts is “to fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13).