A Ruler over Men…and still unhappy…

“I bought manservants and maidservants and sons of the house; it was mine. Also, there were great herds of cattle and sheep that were mine — from everything that was before me in Jerusalem.”

(Ecclesiastes 2:7)

The purchasing of these servants indicates that these men and women are slaves. “Sons of the house” is a bit of an unusual phrase for us, but most identify that this is a reference to the children of slaves that became a part of his household. Some sources understand this not so much as the children of the slaves, but as a reference to stewards that are also purchased by Solomon as he establishes his court. The grounds for this understanding can be found in Genesis 15:3, where Eliezar, Abraham’s steward, is referred to as a “son of his house.” Either way you understand this phrase, the overall conclusion remains the same: Solomon established a court that was the awe of his world. Truly, it must not have just been the Queen of Sheba who was impressed, but the world itself (hence Solomon’s many brides…typically the results of treaties in ancient times).

You will notice the emphasis on the first person in this text…twice within this verse. Solomon declares that these things are “mine” (literally: “to me”). He is making it abundantly clear that all of these things belongs to him, that there is no rival to him in all of the land, and that the best of everything in Jerusalem was at his disposal. And many people in our world today would only dream of living in such opulence…yet, Solomon will very clearly say at the end of all of this, it is vanity.

How easily our hearts are swayed by the wealth of those around us and how often we think to ourselves, “if I just had some of that person’s wealth…” Yet, not only is that a breaking of the tenth commandment, it betrays a false assumption — that earthly wealth and resources brings happiness. They don’t. So, the real question is not what you would do with wealth if you had it, but what are you doing with the resources you do have. 

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