Summary: This is the first message in a series from the book of Ecclesiastes that examines Solomon's wisdom in regard to the mistakes that he had made in his life. This message examines the pursuit of pleasure and how it can squeeze God out of our lives..
Dear Diary, “Why does pleasure never seem to last?” That question is at the heart of America’s relentless pursuit of pleasure. Americans are constantly moving from one thing to another in hope of finding something that will provide pleasure that doesn’t fade away. As I was preparing this message I decided to Google this phrase, “America’s pursuit of pleasure” and I received a mind numbing 2,740,000 pages. Since the average Google page displays ten results this translates to 27,400,000 results for this simple phrase. Needless to say I decided not to look at every page. However, the sheer number of results tells me that this is a lifelong pursuit for most Americans. Whether its food, money, stuff, sex, drugs or alcohol the average American believes that they deserve to enjoy life. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves; in fact God has designed life to be enjoyed. The problem begins when pleasure becomes the driving force in our lives. At that point the pursuit of pleasure dethrones God and takes His place on the throne of our life. God has designed us with an empty spot in our lives that can only be truly filled by Him. Things of the world can fill the spot for a while but eventually the emptiness returns and we begin searching for something else to fill that spot. Until God fills that spot in our life we will be on a never ending search. Today, we are going to take a peak in the diary of perhaps the greatest and wisest king to ever live, His name is Solomon. Solomon’s diary is contained in the Bible in a book known as Ecclesiastes. We will find out that Solomon despite his wealth, power and great wisdom struggled with many of the same things that we do. Let’s hear Solomon’s experience with the pursuit of pleasure.
I. Who exactly was this guy named Solomon?
A. Solomon’s background and family tree.
1. Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba.
2. Solomon was the third king of Israel and reigned from 970-930 BC.
3. Solomon was raised in a very dysfunctional family where competition and deceit were the norm.
4. Solomon was the fourth in line of David’s sons to be king behind Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah.
B. Solomon was handpicked by God to sit on the throne very early on.
1. God personally gave him the name Jedidiah which means beloved of the Lord.
2. Early on in his reign Solomon offered 1,000 burnt offerings at Gibeon after which the Lord appeared to Solomon and offered to give him anything he wished.
3. Solomon showed his great humility by asking the Lord for wisdom to govern the people of Israel properly.
4. Since Solomon’s request was unselfish, the Lord granted Him a long life, riches and fame as a bonus.
5. Solomon wrote 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs; most of the Book of Proverbs is attributed to him, as well as Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Psalms 72 and 127.
6. There would never be another king that could compare to Solomon as the Lord would say that He would be the greatest king to ever reign over a nation on the earth.
C. Understanding some background about the book of Ecclesiastes.
1. As Solomon reached the twilight years of his life he penned the book of Ecclesiastes.
2. Perhaps the best way to view this book is as Solomon’s diary as it details the lessons that he learned throughout his life.
3. Ecclesiastes does not preach the Gospel as there is no mention of repentance or forgiveness, but it does encourage its reader to live life with a God-centered worldview.
4. God is mentioned in the book forty times, and the book clearly shows that God determines the future and controls the events of history.
5. Solomon’s conclusion is that a life that is not centered on God is the Hebrew word hebel which means empty or fleeting.
II. Solomon pursued pleasure down every avenue imaginable.
A. Solomon’s wealth afforded him the opportunity to pursue pleasure through all possible means.
1. Solomon did not pursue the pleasures of life haphazardly but did it with very deliberate planning.
2. Solomon considered his pursuit of pleasure to be a great experiment as he sought to discover the best way for a person to spend the days of their life.
3. Solomon pursued pleasure through building projects, gardening, the acquisition of wealth, partying and sexual exploits.
4. Solomon enjoyed the best that the world had to offer in hopes that he could find the one thing that could provide him lasting satisfaction.
5. Solomon would agree with the great philosopher Mick Jagger when he says, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
B. Solomon’s great experiment left him feeling empty and hopeless.