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Identity Traps

Solomon: Seeking Satisfaction Through Possessions

Rev. Philip Miller | March 26, 2023

Scripture Reference: Deuteronomy 17:14—20, 1 Kings 1, 1 Kings 2, 1 Kings 3, 1 Kings 4, 1 Kings 5, 1 Kings 6, 1 Kings 7, 1 Kings 8, 1 Kings 9, 1 Kings 10, 1 Kings 11, 1 Kings 12, Psalms 16:11, Psalms 34:8, Psalms 37:4, Psalms 107:9, Ecclesiastes 1, Ecclesiastes 2, Ecclesiastes 3, Ecclesiastes 4, Ecclesiastes 5, Ecclesiastes 6, Ecclesiastes 7, Ecclesiastes 8, Ecclesiastes 9, Ecclesiastes 10, Ecclesiastes 11, Ecclesiastes 12

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Scripture Reference: Deuteronomy 17:14—20, 1 Kings 1, 1 Kings 2, 1 Kings 3, 1 Kings 4, 1 Kings 5, 1 Kings 6, 1 Kings 7, 1 Kings 8, 1 Kings 9, 1 Kings 10, 1 Kings 11, 1 Kings 12, Psalms 16:11, Psalms 34:8, Psalms 37:4, Psalms 107:9, Ecclesiastes 1, Ecclesiastes 2, Ecclesiastes 3, Ecclesiastes 4, Ecclesiastes 5, Ecclesiastes 6, Ecclesiastes 7, Ecclesiastes 8, Ecclesiastes 9, Ecclesiastes 10, Ecclesiastes 11, Ecclesiastes 12

Selected highlights from this sermon

King Solomon was one of three great kings who ruled over Israel. His story begins fairly well but then Solomon’s identity trap ensnares him, and everything starts to fall apart. It’s only at the end of his life, when Solomon looks back on all his mistakes, that he begins to see life clearly.

Pastor Miller looks at Solomon’s life in three parts: his ascent, his demise, and his wisdom. And through each step, we see what led to his demise, but more importantly, how his endless searching for satisfaction led him back to his heavenly Father.

Download the Identity Traps Schema: Nine Ways We Lose Ourselves And How Jesus Makes Us Whole.

All right! Well welcome back to Identity Traps. We’re looking at nine ways we lose ourselves and how Jesus makes us whole, and so far we’ve explored eight different identity traps.

We looked at how Joseph sought significance through people, Jacob looked for significance through power. Zacchaeus looked for significance through possessions. And then we moved to security, how Esther looked for security through people, and Gideon looked for security through power, and Naaman looked for securing through possessions. And then we’ve looked now, in the last few weeks here at how the Samaritan woman sought satisfaction through people, how Naomi looked for satisfaction through power.

And now, today, we’re going to look at the nineth and final identity trap, which is how Solomon aimed for satisfaction through possessions, satisfaction through possessions.

King Solomon was one of the three great kings that ruled over Israel as a united kingdom. The first was King Saul, then followed by King David, and then his son, Solomon, became the third. After Solomon, the kingdom was divided.

We’re going to learn a little bit of the backstory behind the civil war that erupted following Solomon’s reign. He reigned from the years 970 to 931 B.C. and Solomon’s story is captured for us largely in the first twelve chapters of a book called 1 Kings.

And King Solomon’s story is a fascinating one. It’s a cautionary tale in many ways because his story begins fairly well. It seems like everything is going really swimmingly. It's just going along really well, and then all of a sudden there’s a turn, and Solomon kind of goes off the deep end, and we wonder kind of how that happened. We’re going to look at that today.

And then at the end of Solomon’s life, when he kind of looks back on all the mistakes he made, Solomon has some pretty good wisdom, some clarity, some hard-earned lessons of life that he wants to share with us. And you know, they say it's good to learn from your own mistakes, but it’s even better to learn from the mistakes of others, right? And Solomon made some doozies, so we have a lot we can learn from him.

So, let’s lean into Solomon’s story together. We’re going to look at: Solomon’s Ascent, Solomon’s Demise, and Solomon’s Wisdom this morning. Okay? Solomon’s Ascent, his Demise, and his Wisdom.

Would you bow your heads? Let’s pray, and then we’re going to jump in.

Heavenly Father, we come to you, and we admit that we’re more like Solomon than I think we realize. In our world, in our culture that is obsessed with accumulating wealth and assets and materialism, it’s easy to live our lives as if all the stuff we can get is what’s going to make our life matter. It’s going to give us a sense of identity and purpose, and it’s going to make us happy. So, Father, as we discover how frail and foolish that kind of life is this morning, we pray that you would give us a better treasure, a greater sense of wealth and purpose, that you would become our all-in-all as we look to you. Help us today for Jesus’ sake, we pray.

Everybody said, “Amen.” Amen.

All right! Solomon’s Ascent! Solomon’s Ascent!

Solomon became king, took the throne of Israel when he was just 20 years old. So, he’s a relatively young fellow. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be thrust onto the geopolitical stage and have leadership of this importance at such a young age? Think back to when you were twenty, right? Would anybody have entrusted an entire government to you at the age of twenty? Probably not. And to be the successor of the great King David? Oh man, that’s a lot of pressure. Those are some big sandals to fill. Right?

So, he was no doubt...Solomon here is no doubt intimidated. He is overwhelmed. He is apprehensive about his future, and yet, by all accounts, Solomon began, for the most part, pretty well. We read this summary statement in 1 Kings 3:3, “Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.”

Now just pause for a moment. So, a quick summary statement. Solomon loved the Lord. That’s a good statement. Right? He walked in the statutes of David his father. He followed his example. He followed his counsel, the best ways to lead and govern. These are good things but there’s one small problem. Solomon sacrificed and made offerings to the Lord, but he did so on the high places instead of the tabernacle, which was the rightful place to worship the Lord God, Solomon went on the mountain tops. And he performed sacrifices there, just like the pagan neighboring kings did.

Solomon is worshiping the right God, but he’s doing it in the wrong way, you see. And our narrator wants us to take note of this small compromise. It’s a small compromise, but it’s a compromise nonetheless, and our narrator says, “Look there’s a hint of what’s coming here.” Take note of that.

Now one time when Solomon, in the early days when he was newly crowned as king, he was offering one of these sacrifices on the high place called Gibeon, and God showed up to him that night in a dream.

We read this in 1 Kings chapter 3, verses 5 down to 14: “At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give you.’” (What do you want most of me, Solomon? Ask away. Ask away.)

Verse 6, “And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart before you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne to this day. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child and I don’t know how to go out or come in.’”

This is the language of like a little baby, like a little toddler. Remember he’s 20 years old. It’s a little hyperbole, but he’s saying, “Look, I don’t know what I’m doing.” Right?

“And your servant (verse 8) is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

Solomon says, “Look, I’m a young man and I’ve been given this huge responsibility. If I could ask anything of you, God, if you were to answer any of my prayers, I’d ask for an understanding mind so I could govern your people well. I want to be a good king that leads these good people into the good life. But I need your help, God. I can’t do it on my own.” It's a really humble request, isn’t it? It’s very good.

Verse 10: “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.’”

So, Solomon here knows his limitations, doesn’t he? He knows how much he needs God. And he asks for divine wisdom to lead his people into a good and prosperous future. So, in the beginning, Solomon looked to the Lord for the good life. Do you see that? Solomon looked to the Lord for the good life. If he was to be a good king, with a good reign, and lead this good people into a good life, he’s going to need his good God to be with him every step of the way.

Solomon begins with humble dependence on the good graces of his God. This is where it begins. This is a positive beginning. We read this summary in the next chapter.

1 Kings 4:29-34: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand of the seashore, so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed all the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men… and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.”

Wow! What a guy! What at guy! Wise beyond years. He’s master of all these multiple disciplines. He’s famous throughout the world. It’s not bad for a young fellow, right? Not bad. He’s a wunderkind. He’s a rising star, a viral sensation in the ancient world. This is Solomon’s Ascent. Everything’s going so well.

Now let’s look at Solomon’s Demise, Solomon’s demise.

Under Solomon’s wise leadership, Israel grew in peace and prosperity, and as the treasury’s resources started growing, as taxes started to roll in, Solomon began building, building things for his nation. He began by building a glorious temple for the Lord God, so God would be worshiped in Israel, in Jerusalem. He took seven years to build this fabulous temple to the Lord. Then he decided he would build a glorious palace for himself, and he spent thirteen years building his own palace.

Okay now, these are just details, but he took seven years to build the temple, and thirteen years to build his own palace. Right? They’re just facts, but we have to ask why would Solomon spend twice as much time and energy building his own palace when compared to the temple of the Lord. That’s a good question, right?

Now chapter 9 of 1 Kings, the first nine verses. This is what we read: “As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king's house and all that Solomon desired to build (He built some other things too.), the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the Lord said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built (He’s talking about the temple) by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, “You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.”’ But (Here comes the warning. God sees what’s going on in Solomon’s heart even before we do. Here’s the warning.) ‘but if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, “Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?” Then they will say, “Because they abandoned the LORD their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore, the LORD has brought all this disaster on them.”’”

See, God says, “Look, Solomon, thanks for the house. I appreciate it. It’s really quite nice. But what really concerns me right here, right now at this moment, is your heart. I’m concerned about your heart. Guard your heart, Solomon, because from it springs all of your life. Above all else, guard your heart.”

Meanwhile, Solomon’s wealth and prosperity continued to compound. In 1 Kings 10, we get a list of assets (chuckles) for Solomon. I’ll just read you some excerpts. This is verses 14 to 15, 1 Kings, chapter 10. “Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold, besides that which came from the explorers and from the businesses of the merchants, and from all the kings of the west and from the governors of the land.”

So, the national treasury that is under Solomon’s purview is collecting in excess of what would be an equivalent of about 1.5 billion dollars of annual revenue. And that’s just one revenue source. He’s got other streams of income coming in here, other sources of income.

First Kings 10:21-23: “All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold...” So, he drank out of melted down gold bars, that’s what he did. “Once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold and silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks. King Solomon excelled over all of the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom.”

Wow! Such wealth, such opulence, such prestige! He had apes and peacocks! What? How many apes do you have? Right? (Audience response) Yes sir. Good! We’ve got one.

All right! But wait, there’s more!

First Kings 10:26, “And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem.”

Wow! Solomon’s got it all! For an ancient king this is quite the list. He’s got unprecedented wealth. He’s got overflowing coffers, a massive military that’s built up, international acclaim. All of his wildest dreams have come true! But Solomon doesn’t see the danger in all of this, does he? He doesn’t see the danger.

See, he had forgotten something. He’d forgotten what God warned Israel’s kings in Deuteronomy, chapter 17, verses 14 to 20, written many years before.

This is what God said: “When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose...Only he must not acquire many horses for himself. (Well, that’s very specific.) And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law...and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”

Solomon was supposed to make a copy of this very warning. He was supposed to have a book of the Law that he read day in and day out and meditated upon. He should have been reading this passage. This warning was for him. It was for him. But either he didn’t know about it, or he didn’t care about it. But he...Look at how he...he just checks off the forbidden list, doesn’t he?

  • Many horses. check!
  • Excess silver. check!
  • Excess gold. check!
  • Many wives! Ooh, now there’s an idea. I haven’t done that yet.

First Kings, chapter 11, verses 1 to 3: “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, ‘You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart.”

Now in the middle...So, he began well, but in the middle, Solomon ran after satisfaction through possessions. Do you see that? Instead of looking to the Lord for the good life, which is how he began, he’s now looking for happiness in all the stuff of life, everything that life can offer. “He’s gaining the whole world and losing his soul,” to quote Jesus.

First Kings 11:4-13: “For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So, Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.

And the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore, the LORD said to Solomon, ‘Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.’”

It's really quite tragic, isn’t it? How did such a smart, wise guy get so terribly wrong? Solomon had asked God for wisdom to govern the people, but he had forgotten to apply that wisdom to the governance of himself. You see, he wanted wisdom to help others. He forgot the wisdom he needed for himself. And everything he built, this wonderful kingdom, is destined now to crumble.

So, Solomon’s ascent and his demise!

Now let’s talk about his wisdom. His wisdom! The book of Ecclesiastes is written from Solomon’s perspective at the end of his life, looking back over the collapse of all of his dreams. Having ascended to the pinnacle of wealth and prosperity and affluence in the ancient world, he now looks back as this thing has crumbled away, and he has a different perspective.

The book opens this way. Ecclesiastes 1:1-2, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

Now we don’t use the word vanity all that much. It’s like meaningless. He’s jaded, he’s cynical. It’s all in vain. It’s all pointless. Why even go after this stuff? Look, I had it all in life and now it’s just gone. It’s a bunch of crock, this life.” (laughs) That’s how it starts.

Let’s keep going. Ecclesiastes 1:12-14: “I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after the wind.”

(Laughs) You try to build a great life for yourself here, and you try to find happiness in this life and this world...I’m telling you it doesn’t work. You can’t find happiness. This is an unhappy business God has put us here to do, in this life under the sun.”

It's pretty jaded, pretty cynical.

Let’s look at Ecclesiastes 2, verses 1 to 11: “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, ‘It is mad,’ and of pleasure, ‘What use is it?’ I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom (You tell yourself that.) and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.” 

I tried everything, guys. I tried pleasure, I tried laughter. I went to the comedy clubs. I tried amusement. I tried drink even to the point of foolishness. (Yeah, he had a little too much. It looked like fun from the outside.) I tried it. It didn’t work.

Verse 4: “I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.” (I invested in real estate. I built myself a dream home, a castle with lavish grounds with finest fruit trees. I had pools and water features. It was supposed to be relaxing and give me happiness.)

Verse 7: “I bought male and female servants. I had slaves who were born in my house. I had great possessions and herds and flocks, and more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.” I had it all.

Verse 8: “I gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.”

I had it all. I tried it all, friends. Slaves were waiting on me hand and foot. I had herds and flocks and wealth and riches. I had silver and gold and treasure and investments. I had entertainment and sex. I had everything I could ever want, everything everybody says will make your life happy.

Verse 9, “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. And all my wisdom remained with me.” (I was thinking about it.)

Verse 10, “And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.” (Whatever I did… Whatever I wanted, I did. Whatever I did was what I wanted.)

Verse 11: “Then I considered all that my hands had done and all the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, it was vanity and a striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

In the end, it was all empty, friends. This is what he’s saying. It was like chasing after the wind. You can’t get it. He says, “Happiness is elusive. As soon as I reached it, it slipped right through my fingers, and it was gone. It vanished. All I wanted was just a little bit of happiness in life. Why was it so elusive?

Have you ever noticed how happiness is always one step ahead of you? Do you ever notice this? It’s always one promotion away, one dollar away, one vacation away, one purchase away, one achievement away, one retirement away. And when you finally get to the thing you’ve been working for and dreaming of, when you finally get it, it's amazing, friends, how quickly the happiness dissipates. Isn’t it? You’re happy for like two weeks, and then you have to start borrowing happiness off of other people being impressed about the thing you're no longer impressed by. Right? And then you quickly move the marker to the next thing. Maybe that one! Maybe the next thing! Maybe the next thing! Maybe the next thing, and it’s an unending chase.

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity writes this: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Now, at the end of chapter 2, there’s something of a breakthrough. This is what is written here.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25: “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, as from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?”

Solomon says, “Look, enjoyment in life is actually a gift of God. Just enjoying the little things, eating, drinking and meaningful work, those things are not enjoyable actually in and of themselves, but they are enjoyable as a gift from the good hand of your God.”

Just like a crayon drawing becomes beautiful when it comes from one of my daughters, because there’s a little bit of themselves in the drawing, just like a meal becomes tasty when Mom prepares it because she put a little bit of herself in the meal, the simple gifts that are given us in life (eating, drinking, work) become enjoyable to the extent that we realize that in these very gifts the Giver is giving us a little bit of Himself.

Enjoyment is found, not in the gift itself, but in the communion we have with the giver as we enjoy the good gift. It changes everything. There’s nothing wrong with stuff. It’s just that stuff is a lousy way to build your whole life, an identity. Good gifts from God point you to Him, and that’s where enjoyment is found.

Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He (God) has put eternity into men’s hearts.” Eternity into men’s heart! Friends, do you realize God put in you a longing for happiness. God put in you an insatiable desire for pleasure and joy. God placed in you an infinite yearning in this life to point you back to Him, like a homing beacon pointing to the creator. As St. Augustine writes in his Confessions so many years ago, “Thou (God) hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Friends, we hunger for the infinite. We long for the eternal. We yearn for the permanent because Ecclesiastes 3:14 says, “I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so people fear before Him.”

Friends, everything humans make in this world is impermanent, it is temporary, it is finite. It will never satisfy your souls, but what God is and what God does endures forever, which means our hunger for the infinite, our longing for the eternal, our yearning for the permanent is all pointing us to God and God alone. That is why nothing on this earth will ever fully satisfy your soul.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 says: “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income. This also is vanity.” Take it from the guy who made 1.5 billion dollars a year. It’ll never be enough. John D. Rockefeller famously was asked how much money does it take to make a man happy, and he said, “Just one more dollar.” Just one more dollar.

You see, it’s an unending chase. Solomon knew that. Ecclesiastes 6:1-2: “There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor; so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them.”

What a tragedy to accumulate everything on Earth and not be able to find enjoyment in it. This is our world, friends. We’re always running after happiness, thinking it’s just around the corner in the next purchase, the next acquisition, the next raise, the next promotion, the next vacation, the next stage in life. It’s all a non-ending treadmill, never being able to actually enjoy the good gifts of God that are right in front of us. We’re always looking for the next thing. What a tragedy!

Ecclesiastes 6:7: “All the toil of man is for his mouth, and yet his appetite is not satisfied.” How ironic that our appetites would drive us in life and make us acquire more and more, and yet nothing we feed ourselves with will ever satisfy those appetites.

Blaise Pascal, in his Pensées said (I read this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s so good I’ve got to read it again.), “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him…though none can help, since this infinite abyss can only be filled with an infinite and immutable object; in other words, by God himself.”

That’s why Solomon ends this way. Ecclesiastes 12:1, “Remember also your creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’”

“I’ll tell you what; here’s my best advice,” Solomon says. “Remember your creator in the days of your youth so you will avoid the mistakes that I made. I tried to find happiness in all the stuff of life, and it left me jaded and cynical and bitter, and unfulfilled. Don’t do what I did. Learn from my mistakes. Remember your creator when you are young, before you go off the beaten path into the weeds. Enjoying God is what it’s all about. Look to Him. Look to your creator.”

This is how it ends.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “Here is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments.”

Where did Solomon fail? He didn’t fear God and keep His commandments. Right? At the end of his life what does he say? “I’ll tell you what you should do. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man, for God will bring every deed into judgment and every secret thing, whether good or evil.” It will be exposed.

Here's the bottom line. “Fear God and keep His commandments.” It’s the whole duty of man. Trust Him. Obey Him. Enjoy Him. You can’t do any better than that in life. Take it from the guy who searched everywhere for happiness. “I looked at wealth, and leisure, and decadence, and luxury, and pleasure, and it all ended up in misery. None of it made me happy.”

Friends, one day, Solomon’s telling us, we’re all going to stand naked before God. And our possessions will do nothing for us. We cannot take them with us. It will be just us and God, and He’ll know everything about us, the good, the bad, the ugly. And in that moment, when everything in life is stripped away, and you stand naked before God, it’s just you and Him, if He is not your supreme treasure, if He is not your deep fulfillment, if He is not your joyous longing, and your heart’s desire, you will have nothing. You’ll have nothing. But if in that moment He is your supreme treasure, if He is your deep fulfillment, if He is your joyous longing, if He is your heart’s desire, when everything is stripped away, you will still have everything you need because you will have your God, and you will look upon Him and you will be satisfied.

In the end, Solomon realized that God alone can satisfy. God alone can satisfy. After all his years of endless searching, it led him back home to the One he was made for all along, to the Satisfier of his soul, to this Heavenly Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.

Psalm 34:8: (Solomon realized this is true.) “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.” David told him that. He had to learn it the hard way.

Psalm 107:9: “He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”

Psalm 16:11: “In your presence oh God there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Because when God is the great delight of your soul, God will give you more of Himself. He always says yes to that transaction. Solomon had to let go of all the stuff so that he could finally receive the satisfaction his soul was longing for. He had to let go to receive grace, the presence and goodness of God. He had to let go of his orphan-hearted living, trying to scrounge around to find his own happiness, and let go and open his hands wide to the gracious presence of his God who would satisfy his soul, his Father, as a beloved child. It changed everything.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Friends, what we love becomes our life. What we love becomes our life. Where is your life hidden? Friends, do you realize that Jesus gave up everything He possessed so that He could come down and lay down His life to possess you, bring you to Himself forever, and now He asks you to let go of all that you possess in order to grab ahold of the fullness of all that He is. And He will satisfy your deepest longings. He is the One you were made for. He will bring you home and show you who you really are.

Amen? Let’s bow our heads and pray.

Father, if it weren’t for you it would be all vanity, meaningless, a bunch of crock, and yet because we were made for you and Jesus has come to make us alive forever in your presence by grace, there is a great fullness of satisfaction and joy awaiting your children. So, Father, we praise you that we live not just these few years on Earth, but that we live for eternity in all the joyous satisfaction of a life forever in your presence. Help us not to amass treasures for ourselves on Earth, but to amass treasures in heaven, because that’s what counts in the end. You are our treasure, our great joy we long for you.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.  

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