King Solomon was the Donald Trump of the ancient world—a person of power, immense wealth, and remarkable creativity and charisma. As author, songwriter, poet, architect, king, diplomat, and philosopher, he was a Renaissance man centuries before the Renaissance. So impressive was this man and his kingdom that other dignitaries stood in awe of him. His empire became a synonym for unparalleled greatness, a standard of quality no one else could reach.

Yet Solomon the Great took a maddening journey in his adult life when over-the-top things of the world lost their luster, when the roots of his life were exposed to the damaging rays of under-the-sun reality. Solomon applied the wisdom God gave him to the quest of finding what shreds of happiness, meaning, and fulfillment he could from a life apart from God . . . and his conclusion still echoes through the corridors of time. The empty cry sounds like it could have been shouted today: “Vanity of vanities! Everything is vanity!”

Solomon kept a journal of his dark and desperate journey as he came to terms with reality and searched for meaning. That journal, preserved for us, is the book of Ecclesiastes. Its words are as relevant to today’s hedonistic, workaholic, and entertainment-frenzied culture as they were during the time the ancient monarch was on his long and lonely drift. Here is the harsh reality of under-the-sun living—the pleasure-seeking lifestyle in the raw. Here is emptiness personified. Here is life on the ragged edge.

May the Lord use these studies to convince all of us that life apart from God is one miserable, futile mess. Without Christ as the center and source of our lives, we drift through a desert of despair in a world of darkness. I pray that each lesson will touch all who are spinning their wheels along their own journeys to find meaning and purpose in a fallen world. May all of us heed the warnings and wisdom of Solomon’s desperate journey toward peace and fulfillment.

Charles R. Swindoll, Living on the Ragged Edge Workbook: Finding Joy in a World Gone Mad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005).










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