“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labour, and this was the reward for all my toil.” —Ecclesiastes 2:10
Western society today is largely hedonistic. This is due in part to the philosophical principles of Sigmund Freud who believed the main driving forces of life were pleasure and pain. His theory was that people should seek to enjoy as much pleasure as possible and avoid as much pain as possible. Adherents of hedonism believe what causes pleasure and lessens pain must be right, and those experiencing the greatest amount of pleasure will be the happiest.
Bill Wyman, the bass guitarist for the Rolling Stones, would likely disagree. Many wished they could have achieved a similar level of talent and fame as the Rolling Stones, but Wyman explained that the band’s fame was not all that it was cracked up to be. He said, “Getting to the top was an exciting experience. It kept driving you. But when we arrived at the top, there was nothing there. It was empty.” Wyman’s words sound as though they could have come right out of Ecclesiastes.
As one of the great kings of Israel, Solomon had access to all kinds of pleasures and pursuits. He had jesters to make him laugh and wine to loosen his humour. He had tutors who taught him all about plants and animals, and he had singers who could sing the many songs he had written. He had the resources to build whatever he wanted and a total of 1,000 women to keep him company. According to hedonism, Solomon should have been the happiest man alive, but Ecclesiastes revealed that his life ended miserably.
Why? Because while pleasures are not wrong in themselves, seeking pleasure for its own sake is an empty pursuit. God created pleasures like money, music and sex to be enjoyed as part of life, not the main goal of life. God calls us to be generous and to praise Him with song, and He gives us sex as His gift to marriage. But when these gifts become self-serving, they not only lure us away from God, as they did with Solomon, but they become empty pursuits that leave us hungering for something else.
In contrast, Psalm 16:11 says of God, “You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” Faith in God leads us to the most incredible pleasure of all: an intimate relationship with God Himself
through Jesus Christ. This is what makes the pleasure meaningful and fruitful. Seeking pleasure for its own sake may satisfy for a season, but the pursuit of getting to know God and keep on knowing Him is a pleasure that completes us into eternity.
Dear God, thank You for all the gifts You have given me, but above all, thank You for the gift of Your Son. Help me not to squander Your blessings, but to use them to glorify You. In Jesus’s Name, amen!