I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives. I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. – Ecclesiastes 2:1-9
There is apparently some debate about the authorship of the book of Ecclesiastes. Based on this passage alone it certainly sounds like King Solomon. Back in 1 Kings we learned about some of Solomon’s riches and flamboyant excesses. The author, whether it is indeed Solomon or some other rich king, seems to be trying everything under the sun — wine, women, wealth — to fill a spiritual void in their life.
This is not unique to this time or generation. I think that the modern culture in America is all about filling the spiritual void with anything and everything except what the void was made for — God. There is a quote attributed to a famous scientist and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, that I really like “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
Our bodies and spirits were designed to have God installed as our operating system to help us navigate this “land of oblivion”, but we are often not comfortable relying on God to fill us up. We seek after all sorts of other “water” to satisfy our thirsty souls, but the only water that provides lasting refreshment is that which comes from the great cistern, the One River, God.
The author’s solution to his “thirst” is to “build reservoirs”. The reservoirs were built to provide water for “groves of flourishing trees”. There is nothing in this verse that indicates that these reservoirs were unsuccessful at raising healthy trees and fruit, but the trees and fruit they were producing were apparently not satisfying on deeper spiritual or eternal level.
I think this is the experience of many who chase after wealth and possessions. They often end up with many “reservoirs” to replace their reliance on the One who is supposed to provide us with living water on a daily basis. The reservoirs appear on the surface to provide water for all kinds of “flourishing trees”, but inside the soul is often starving for sustenance.
Prayer: God You want to provide all the water we need to live and flourish. Help us to seek out Your living water daily.