Solomon was an amazing man. His reputation is known not just in the Bible. Secular historians are impressed with his unusual wisdom. He was a man who had all the money, all the power, all the time, and all the energy to make his dreams come true. He could literally have and do anything he wanted. But, he was also restless. He wanted to figure out what life was all about. He was on a search for his purpose in life. His choice of journey left him deflated, depressed and disillusioned. The best word to describe his experience is empty.
King Solomon asks a question, “What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” The word, “gain” literally means, “That which is left over.” He had removed the delight, joy, and pleasure out of everything. And now he wanted to know what would be left over, what would he have to show for himself when it was all said and done? The phrase “under the sun” is used 29 times to show that life on the earthly level is ultimately empty.
What does a man gain from all His labor under the sun? In other words, what does your life say about you when you take your last breath? When you turn the lights out at the end of the day, are you satisfied with your accomplishments? As you climb higher and higher on that corporate ladder of success, do you begin to wonder if you have leaned that ladder against the wrong wall? When your life ends will you have made a meaningful difference for the kingdom of God?
When we get closer to God it will change our lives. We will discover a level of joy that we have never experienced before. Your relationship with your family, and other people you meet, will change, because now you will see them as a chance to impact lives for eternity. Your work becomes much more than a paycheck; it is God’s calling for your life. Even the trials and tribulations of life will change, because now you will see them as other chances for God to demonstrate his power through you. And this leads to other things that brings our life meaning, because when we KNOW GOD, we see the importance of making Him KNOWN.
Solomon was looking for something of substance in life. Nothing ultimately satisfied him. After experimenting with everything he could think of, he realized that there had to be more to life. If life is only lived on the horizontal level we will be empty. In his wisdom, Solomon concluded that life is also meant to be lived on the vertical level. To use Solomon’s expression, nothing under the sun will satisfy because we have been created to live in an interactive relationship with the loving and faithful God of the universe.
This life offers all kinds of things "under the sun" but none of these options will ever satisfy our soul. Sin satisfies the flesh for only a season. Our satisfaction can be found in Jesus Christ. He provides what each of us needs to satisfy the emptiness that is present in our lives without Him.