Can you imagine having everything you could ever dream of wanting? The highest luxury the world had to offer. TV shows and movies can paint this fantasy for all of us that we might find ourselves daydreaming at times… but for a guy named Solomon it wasn’t a dream – this was reality. He was known as the wisest man that lived during his time. Historians look at his life and calculate he was the wealthiest man to ever live. They’ve even calculated his wealth into today’s economy and say that he was 8-10 ten times richer than Bill Gates. He had everything his culture had to offer… and if his culture didn’t have it – he invented it and built it. He worked hard and he studied. He was driven! Solomon built cities, parks, gardens, and palaces. He was a poet and a writer. This artist found himself on the top of the pop charts of his day as he wrote over 1,000 songs and over 3,000 proverbs. Leaders of other nations traveled months to come and sit with him to gain some knowledge and try to build a relationship with him. And if he wasn’t rich enough already – people that came and visited him to sit with him brought him extravagant gifts to honor him and impress him. Chariots full of silver, gold, animals, fur and perfumes. Solomon was the man!
This was considered Israel’s golden age, and he was the greatest King that ever lived. He was the definition of hustle back in his day. His kingdom was prosperous and he became a real popular guy! He had God’s favor, but as his wisdom and his wealth grew, his relationship with God became more and more distant. He began to indulge more and more in his earthly pleasures and riches. It seemed he couldn’t say no to himself. Solomon wanted to experience absolutely everything he desired. He took on hundreds of wives and many of them worshipped other foreign gods that drew him even further away from God. But, he lived it up! He hustled! But, soon his life was coming to its closing days and he looked back on it and began to reflect. Check out his words from Ecclesiastes 2:11, “Then I took a good look at everything I’d done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing.”
Most of the book of Ecclesiastes is filled with heavy depressing content just like this. King Solomon’s hustle was impressive, but when you look at his reflection it just doesn’t seem to be what we thought it would. Especially when we live in a culture where most people are trying to hustle to achieve some things or acquire some things. But, usually once we achieve it or we buy it, many times we find it doesn’t quite bring us the feeling we thought it would. It doesn’t bring that closure or that satisfaction that we expected. We might feel a little cheated… many times this is supposed to be a wake up call for us, but most of us just push and hustle a little harder and keep looking to see what’s next. We tell ourselves, “There’s got to be another achievement or thing I can get that will finally bring me that happiness and contentment that I’m looking for.” But, it doesn’t happen!
I know all of us reading this have watched Sesame Street back in the day. Some of ya’ll might have forgotten a lot of it, but wait until you have kids – you’ll be watching it again! They have this game segment on Sesame Street that helps kids learn patterns. It’s the little song that says, “One of these things is not like the other…” They would show five umbrellas going by and four of them are polka dot and one is stripped. Kids begin to learn the pattern and the stripped one stands out, as it’s not like the others. If you were to open the table of contents in the Bible and look at the sixty-six books listed – Ecclesiastes is that one you could point at and say this one is not like the others! Now the book of Job may be similar in that it has some heavy depressing stuff, but if you’re familiar with the book of Job the content includes him losing his family, his possessions, and then to top it off he got physically sick. That would be expected to be heavy and depressing – no doubt! But, on the flip side here you have King Solomon who didn’t lose any of that. He was the icon of success… the leader of this golden era! He had it going on! He was on top of the world! That’s the stuff we’d all envision that we want, right? And then you see his response to it… and it’s crushing! It smashes our picture of what it could be like, right? It smashes the MTV Cribs and the Lifestyles of the rich and famous mentality. It pulls the rug out from under that stuff. It’s some heavy stuff as King Solomon basically reduces just about everything down to being meaningless, vanity, emptiness, vapor, or as The Message Bible says it – Smoke.
As Solomon reflects he does give some us some positive, solid advice in Chapter 5 verse 18; “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during his few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift from God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of the heart.” (NIV) Solomon lost that gladness of his heart. He lost that joy he once had as he used to be close with God. Now, as he looked back on his life he realized it wasn’t about all the riches, the accomplishments, and the women… because they all just eventually vanish. Because he focused on those things his relationship with his creator suffered and he soon found all the fancy stuff just didn’t do it for him. We have to learn to live faithful to God and appreciate what he has given us. Without God we’ll never find any real happiness or enjoyment – it will be a never-ending hustle! We see Solomon’s reflection of life without God, and it’s ugly – it’s depressing – it’s bleak! But that outlook is very different when God comes in and changes you. God creates us with a drive – with a “hustle”, and when we truly begin to live for him that hustle gets properly channeled. I would consider myself a very driven person and that’s because of the urgency and the drive I have to advance God’s kingdom. I’m on my grind for Him. I’ve surrounded myself with a community of like-minded people that want to see urban culture transformed. Recently I put out a video that talks about our motivation and why we push, hustle and grind. If you haven’t seen it – check out
Pause for a minute and honestly ask yourself – What am I really hustling for?