So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem.

Considering all that Solomon wrote prior to this verse, fame would be the seemingly inevitable outcome. Nevertheless, he made the point, even as he did earlier – “I became great” (2:9a; cf. 1:16). Having surpassed his predecessors in wisdom, works, and wealth, he also surpassed them in magnificence and as a result he became a titan of notoriety. Yes, the geographical reference of Eccl. 2:9 is limited to Jerusalem, but the reverberations of Solomon’s fame spread well beyond Israel’s capital. The Queen of Sheba, for instance, “heard of the fame of Solomon” (1 Ki. 10:1) and came from “the ends of the earth” to hear his wisdom (Mt. 12:41). Perhaps this is where the previous conclusions of meaninglessness would give way to that which is meaningful. Perhaps the vanity of pleasure and possessions was a poor substitute for the worthy endeavor of a celebrated perception. Not quite.

Read More