The Missing Factor

By Simeon L. Young Sr.

The book of Ecclesiastes is something of a daybook in which Solomon recorded his experiences, his ideas, his reflections. Many expositors believe that he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in his old age when he was able to look back over a colorful and eventful life.

Solomon’s great wealth allowed him to indulge a lifestyle beyond the reach of the average person. I get the impression that there were few restraints to check him in his pursuit of pleasurable experiences. If it felt good he did it. If it looked good he obtained it. If it tasted good he ate it.

We may think that if we could walk in Solomon’s shoes we would feel fulfilled and satisfied. Yet, Solomon was bored, and cynical, and sad.

How could he be melancholy while surrounded with court jesters, and clowns, and comedians! Why would he be bored when his vast wealth could buy him the good life? How could a man so distinguished for his wisdom be so pessimistic about life “under the sun”?

What is the reason for his boredom? This melancholy? This sadness? Why was life so empty? Why the fatalistic outlook? Why all the pessimism?

The answer to these questions lies in the fact that there is something noticeably missing in Solomon’s record of his seemingly full life. You will search in vain for the slightest hint of prayer, or praise in the book of Ecclesiastes. The entire book is like a lip-parching desert without the relief of an oasis. Never once does Solomon write of his worshipping God in this record. Perhaps this absence of praise is the reason Solomon’s crowded life was so empty.

We were created for praise, and we will never experience fulfillment or realize our potential until we praise God with our lips and with our lives. Praising our Maker brings a satisfaction that neither wisdom, nor work, nor wealth can bring.

I have met a lot of intelligent people who were sad, but I have never known a sad praiser. I have known many unfulfilled workaholics, but the people who worship God in spirit and in truth have a godly contentment. I have met some miserable millionaires, but those who know how to praise God are happy even if they are poor.

A life that is not significantly highlighted by praise is dull and empty. Wisdom without praise is folly. Work without praise is idleness. Wealth without praise is poverty. Never let yourself believe that you are too smart, too busy, or too affluent to praise God.

The lives of David and Solomon are a study in contrasts. On the one hand David, in his long and hard struggle to build the kingdom and fight his enemies, was always rejoicing and praising. He wrote many of the Psalms out of his struggles.

On the other hand Solomon, living in wealth, and power, and security, wrote a book whose predominant strain is pessimistic.

The praise factor made an appreciable difference in the way this father and son looked at life. When life is generously accented by praise it is full and satisfying. But when praise is either absent or scarce, then life is dull and disappointing.

It is never too late to embark upon the rewarding practice of praising God spontaneously and generously. No life is so meaningless that it can not be given purpose through praise. No career is so full that it can not be brightened through worship. No burden is so heavy that it can not be lightened through thanksgiving.

Many years ago I read that the average person who is 70 years old has spent:

3 years in education,
8 years in amusement,
6 years eating,
11 years working,
24 years sleeping,
51 1/2, years washing and dressing,
6 years walking,
3 years talking,
3 years reading, and

Isn’t it about time we got started making up for the missed opportunities for praise!