Repentance of King Solomon

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Taken from:
Did Solomon write Ecclesiastes in repentance?Dennis Elliott


It does seem, however, that the inevitable pangs of conscience that were now troubling Solomon for those things that he had done amiss, and his pent-up feelings of remorse as he turned his back upon all that the allurements of the world had to offer, came to the surface and over-flowed so that he could no longer forbear, con-fessing: “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (2:11). It was now plain to see that the joy that he had experienced in amassing tremen-dous wealth, voluminous knowledge, and a repu-tation as one of the great kings of his time, had diminished to such a degree that he was en-veloped in disillusionment and repentance, im-pelling him to declare with heartfelt emotion: “Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (v. 17).
Lessons for today
Perhaps we are able to glimpse a repentant heart in Solomon as he presents to those contemplat-ing marriage the ideal for which they should strive: “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which He hath given thee under the sun . . . and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun” (9:9). Note the sage advice regarding monogamous marriage and also the indissoluble nature of the marriage bond.
At this late stage in the book a spirit of repentance can be discerned in Solomon. In all sincer-ity, and aware of the enthusiasm and energy that young people are able to generate in their activities—as we also in our own day have noted in ecclesial life—he urges them: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth”. But he is at pains, as we can well imagine because of his own experience, to sound a solemn warning of the pitfalls that can bring about the undoing of the unwary, for he adds: “. . . while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (12:1).
We are able to view the book of Ecclesiastes as an exceptional document that presents a very sobering analysis of some of the so-called values that the world about us holds in high esteem— the acquisition of wealth, increased knowledge, and status in the community—regarding them as valid prizes for which we should strive. Solo-mon, however, sets the whole matter of worldly ambition in its proper perspective as, in the memorable epilogue, he comes finally and sig-nificantly to the axiomatic moment of truth, de-claring with fervour and conviction: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (v. 13).

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