Ecclesiastes 1:12–18 (NKJV)
12 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
And what is lacking cannot be numbered.
16 I communed with my heart, saying, “Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief,
And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
Again, Solomon sets the reader on a path of despair. Hopelessness abound in this passage. Solomon confesses that he has searched out every experience to be had, and was afflicted by the process. After having seen everything, Solomon deduces that all is vanity, like grasping for the wind. Crooked cannot be straight, what is missing cannot be counted. When he reflects on his blessed and regal life, he surmises that he has amassed more wisdom than anyone before him. That wisdom, though, is also folly and useless. In wisdom is grief and sorrow, summarizes Solomon.
While Solomon’s plight is his own, and one cannot deny his feelings are real to him, this fatalistic view espoused by Solomon early in this book is simply setting the reader up to know true meaning. If we can understand the futility of life in the physical realm, we can then begin to understand the value of life in the spiritual realm. So, don’t put your faith in this world and its ventures for your happiness and fulfillment. Rather, seek the face of God and His ways in order to find your joy.