The book of Ecclesiastes is about man’s search for happiness and meaning in life. We see the phrase “under the sun” 29 times in this book, for King Solomon’s search for purpose in life and true satisfaction was limited to “this world.” He tried everything there was to try “under the sun” and in the opening verses he gives us his conclusion. We read in 1:1-2, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jersusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” The word “vanity” means “meaningless” or “empty,” so Solomon was declaring that there was absolutely nothing in this poor world that has real meaning; it is empty and thus it fails to fill the void that is in every human heart. Let’s look at some of the things “under the sun” that Solomon tried.

1) In 1:3 we read, “What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?”  Like many people, Solomon thought his labors would bring him purpose and satisfaction, but listen to what he concludes in 2:18-19, “Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? This also is vanity.” Poor Solomon was looking in the wrong place! If our labors are only for the world “under the sun” we will indeed be disappointed. But if we labor for the Lord and “the world to come,” they will have lasting results and we will be satisfied. The Apostle Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

2) Solomon thought that gaining knowledge and wisdom would be fulfilling, but in 1:17-18 he writes, “And I gave my heart to know wisdom…I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” Many a soul goes down that same road today, filling their hearts and minds with worldly wisdom that can never satisfy. True wisdom and knowledge is only found “above the sun” in the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:2 says this of Christ, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

3) The next “vanity” that Solomon tried is seen in 2:1, “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and behold, this also is vanity.” Like today, Solomon lived in a pleasure-mad world and he tried every pleasure imaginable but found them to be empty. God tells us in Psalm 16:11 where true pleasure is to be found, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Again, one must take their eyes off  this present scene and look “above the sun” to behold God’s Son sitting at His right hand, for there alone will we find “fullness of joy” and “pleasures for evermore.”

4) Solomon also thought that wealth and possessions would surely bring the satisfaction that he longed for, but we see his disappointing conclusion in 5:10, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” As I write, millions of Americans desire to win the biggest lottery on record, not realizing that money and all it can buy will never bring them the happiness they are looking for. It is the humble believer in the Lord Jesus Christ that has found the true riches that satisfy. In Ephesians 3:8 the Apostle Paul speaks of “the unsearchable riches of Christ”, and in 1:3 of that same letter he broke out in praise saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”


We could go on listing other things “under the sun” that Solomon tried, but they all tell the same story. Nothing in this world has real and lasting meaning or brings joy to the heart; “all is vanity.”  (190.3)  (DO)