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Mental Health Today: Was King Solomon Depressive?

“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.” (Ecc Chapter 1:1-2 NIV)

I read Ecclesiastes with some familiarity

It’s a book I’ve read often, and Chapter 3: A Time for Every Season is popular with many people. But Chapter 2 which precedes it is what I dwell on today.

I ask myself, was Solomon depressed when he wrote it? He must have been. To have all the wisdom and wealth in the world, and to start a book with,

“The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.” (Ecc Chapter 1:1-2 NIV)

and to come to this stark conclusion, I think he must have been at a low point in his grand life when he wrote Ecclesiastes.

Solomon’s focus in Chapter 2 is on the futility of effort, as legacy does not hold any guarantees of sustaining the result of one’s effort; to enjoy one’s labour is worthwhile, but with no forward expectations.

“I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish?” (Ecc 2:18-19a NIV)

Solomon has strayed rather than prayed; if he had prayed to GOD, he would know who would follow after him, or be at peace with whatever GOD would bring.

“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” (Ecc 2:24 NKJV)

He has not lost faith in GOD, but he has lost relationship. He speaks not of the spirit, but of the soul.* This, I think, is the key to his depression.

He is alone, ruminating in his mind, rather than searching GOD and His spirit. Truly, he is wise and correct to say, ‘everything is meaningless’, for without GOD, without relationship to Him, Solomon is truly alone — with his wealth, his wives, his children, yet he is isolated and alone.

from Peter Paul Rubins’ The Judgment of Solomon

Today in our society, depression and lack of mental health is on the rise, particularly amongst the youth

Today, we live in a society where GOD has been removed from schools, from health care, from society in the main. The result? 

To Solomon, who had wealth, fame and power, came depression. His success became meaningless to him. Today, though higher education, prosperity and independence have become increasingly available to young adults, they have proven meaningless to the happiness of many. Just as Solomon became isolated from GOD, likewise today, our youth grow up without GOD. Our relatively prosperous society too, on the whole, suffers from a lack of the Joy of the LORD, who provides humanity with its true source of strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and purpose.

“To know GOD and to make Him known” was the key slogan behind my discipleship training course, provided through a YWAM-trained pastor when I was a young woman. How I wish (and pray), that more Believers and society on the whole, would discover this key to a truly fulfilling life.

“For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight;” (Ecc 2:26a NKJV

*Yes, it is true that in the Old Testament man did not receive the Spirit of GOD as we do through Jesus Christ. But David, Solomon’s father, often spoke of the Spirit. For example, Psalm 139:7 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”

Note: Images from www.Lambsongs.co.nz and Peter Paul Rubins’ Judgment of Solomon, available at www.smk.dk

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