In order to answer this rather difficult verse we will read verses 27-29, “’Here is what I have FOUND,’” says the Preacher, ‘Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, which my soul still seeks but I cannot FIND: One man among a thousand I have FOUND, but a woman among all these I have not FOUND. Truly, this only I have FOUND: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (NKJV).

I have purposely capitalized the word FOUND every time it occurs in this passage, for it reflects the theme of this book. Solomon was on a SEARCH to FIND something “under the sun” (an expression which is found 29 times in this book) that would bring meaning and purpose to his life. In these verses he speaks of how he was looking for an UPRIGHT person among those whom he knew; that is, someone who would fit his standard of a RIGHTEOUS man or woman. As you pointed out in the translation you used, he was looking for someone he could RESPECT.

What did he FIND? He found that among all of his servants, his family members, his many wives and concubines, his friends, and others that he met on the road of life, that it was very rare indeed to find an upright person. Among men he could only FIND one in a thousand, and among women he FOUND none! At first glance this may sound very offensive to women, but as I mentioned most of the “women in Solomon’s life” were made up of “his HAREM.” A good commentary on this is found in 1st Kings 11:1-3 which I quote, “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites—from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart.” If Solomon was searching for an upright woman among these 1,000 women it is no wonder that he couldn’t find one upright woman!

The last verse that we read (verse 29) is what Solomon concludes, for he realizes that initially, when God made Adam, he made him “upright,” which means he was a RIGHTEOUS man, one that walked with God and one that Solomon could have respected. But then the FALL (into sin) in Eden took place and ever since then men “have sought out many SCHEMES.” The word “schemes” has been translated in some Bibles “inventions” or “devices,” which means that with the introduction of sin, men (including women) have constantly been seeking out “new ways” to entertain themselves. The implication is that these inventions or devices have not been for their good, but rather for evil. In other words, they constantly seek out new things which can satisfy the lusts of their flesh. This has resulted in taking them farther away from a righteous life and drawing close to God.

Let me end by saying that in the book of Proverbs, Solomon was inspired to write the following, “Who can FIND a virtuous wife, for her worth is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10). He then gives a beautiful description of a righteous woman in verses 11-31. He knew that there were indeed women out there who not only met his standard of righteousness, but who were known as “a woman who fears the LORD” (verse 30). When he wrote Ecclesiastes he was describing a period in his life when he was “looking in the wrong place for an upright woman!” (304.2) (DO)