Solomon’s Search for Satisfaction
I have a confession. This year, for the first time in my life, I participated in “Black Friday”. Yes it’s true. At midnight I crawled out of bed, changed out of my pajamas and into my regular clothes, and drove with my wife to Macy’s. We were there for less than an hour, but we managed to purchase silverware and a couple other small items for less than half the retail price. After which, I drove home, put my pajamas on, crawled into bed, and enjoyed a good night’s rest. I haven’t spent a lot of time reflecting on this auspicious life event. But, it does make me wonder. What is so appealing about being able to purchase things we don’t really need for less than an average price?
· What would you like this year for Christmas?
· If you could have anything—I mean anything at all—what would it be?
· If our wish lists are an indication of our values and priorities, what would be the top three priorities for most people you know?
Study the Word
Recorded in the books of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles we see how God told King Solomon he could have anything he wished. Read the following verses and review the story.
· 2 Chronicles 1:7: In a dream God promises to give Solomon anything he desires.
· 2 Chronicles 1:8-10: Solomon asks for wisdom so that he might properly lead and govern Israel.
· 2 Chronicles 1:11-12: God is pleased with Solomon’s request and grants it, along with riches and honor.
· In 1 Kings 3:17-28 Solomon judges fairly between two prostitutes who both claimed to be the mother of a newborn baby. This caused him to gain the approval of the people of Israel. (Willmington, H. L.: The Outline Bible)
Just as God promised, Solomon acquired wealth and prestige beyond imagination (2 Chronicles 1:13-17; 8:1-10; 17-18; 9:10-11; 13-28). By today’s standards some scholars estimate Solomon’s net worth to be somewhere around $100 billion dollars. His annual income from his investments totaled somewhere around $709 million. Let’s put that into perspective. At age 65 Donald Trump’s total net worth is only around $2.9 billion. According to Forbes Magazine Warren Buffett is worth somewhere around $39 billion dollars. Depending on whom you ask, Bill Gates is worth somewhere around $50-56 billion.
· Pretend for a moment that you have the wealth of Solomon. How would you spend a typical day?
· What do you think Solomon worried about?
· Do you think having this amount of wealth would make you happy? Why or why not?
· Do you agree or disagree with this thought: “There are two types of people who really seem to be able to put their priorities in order—those who have nothing, and those who have everything. “
In the book of Ecclesiastes we have the opportunity to join King Solomon in his struggle to find meaning in life. Try not to get too depressed as you read Solomon’s musings. Do you agree with Solomon’s conclusions? Why or why not?
· New things have lost their appeal. They don’t bring happiness (Ecc. 1:8-10)
· Finding wisdom does not bring happiness (Ecc. 1:16-17)
· Indulging in pleasure does not bring happiness (Ecc. 2:1-11)
· Hard work does not bring happiness (Ecc. 2:17-23; 4:4)
· Being promoted does not bring happiness (Ecc. 4:13-16)
· Being wealthy does not bring happiness (Ecc. 5:10)
· Living a long life does not bring happiness (Ecc. 6:6)
If Solomon is right—if there is no happiness to be found in any of these things—what is left for us to hope for?
· Have your group read Matthew 5:3-10. These items are in direct contrast to the list above. How is it possible for us to be blessed (happy) by these things?
· Read Ephesians 2:1-10—As Christians, where do we find our peace and contentment?
o Read verses 1-3 and the condition that sin leaves us in.
o Make a list of all the things God has done for us. (Vs. 4-10)
o What are the attributes of God? (Vs. 4-10)
· The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:10-13 that he has learned to be content. How does he experience contentment in all circumstances?
Sometimes we find ourselves saying, “If only….” If only I could take a vacation, then I would be more relaxed. If only I could get my car started, I wouldn’t feel so frustrated. If only I could get a promotion, then life would be more comfortable. Solomon was granted all the things that anyone could ever hope for, yet he found himself hopelessly discontent. He experimented with many things and found they did not provide the answer he was looking for. The Bible gives us good news. We can find true meaning, purpose and value in Christ. We only find true contentment in Jesus Christ. When we choose to follow him we experience true satisfaction.
· What has been the source of your discontent over the past few weeks?
· How would you complete the sentence, “If only……”
· According to today’s lesson, what is the real solution to our discontent?
· Are you ready to accept God’s plan for your life?
Take some time to pray and seek God. As part of your personal time of worship and reflection click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K97k69kLWd4&feature=related and ask God to speak to you through the song.