He had everything, yet he had nothing. He had riches, yet he was bankrupt. He had popularity, yet he was lonely. He had knowledge, yet he lacked godly wisdom. At the end of his life, Solomon came to this conclusion: as long as a man fears and obeys God, nothing else matters.

Solomon’s life was full of strange paradoxes. He wrote Proverbs, which boasts of the triumph of God’s wisdom; and then he wrote Ecclesiastes, which chronicles the failure of human wisdom. He warned against vanity in his proverbs, yet in Ecclesiastes he described how he lived in the very emptiness he detested. Solomon wrote about the dangers of strange women, yet he had hundreds of wives who stole his heart away from God. This “wise” man spent more than a fourth of his 40-year reign on a frivolous building project (13 years were spent in the construction of his multi-million-dollar house).

Does a person have to experience all of Solomon’s thrills before he reaches the same conclusion that life is empty apart from a relationship with God? No. Solomon’s experiences should teach us to steer clear of his pitfalls — and their consequences. Scripture records this man’s achievements and blunders for our benefit. Let’s be sure to learn this all-inclusive lesson from his life: Only a relationship with God can bring satisfaction and happiness. It is futile to seek these things anywhere else.

No person, occupation, possession, or achievement can take the place God wants to fill in your life. Are you trying to put something else in His place? Take these wise words from a wise guy, and your life will be blessed with the purpose and fulfillment God intended for you.

The strength and happiness of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going that way, too. — Henry Ward Beecher

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.