In Ecclesiastes 1, Solomon declares everything to be meaningless. He boldly states, “Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities. All is vanity!”
Just as the Bible uses the language “King of kings and Lord of lords” to emphasize that Jesus is above every king and every lord, Solomon is emphasizing that everything is emphatically and utterly meaningless and futile. He even declares the pursuit of wisdom, the thing Solomon is most known for, to be a fleeting pursuit of the wind.
I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind. For with much wisdom is much sorrow; as knowledge increases, grief increases. (Eccl. 1:17-18)
Solomon was blessed with wisdom. It was a good gift of God, a gracious gift of God. But Solomon started to enjoy the gift more than God. He began to pursue the gift more than God. He sought satisfaction in the blessing, not satisfaction in God. The gift God gave Solomon became a source of grief for him because he cherished it more than God Himself. Thus he came to conclude that the gift of wisdom, by itself, is meaningless.
God blesses us. He is gracious to us. But when we make gods of the good things He gives us, they lose their meaning because they alone cannot fulfill us. Only He can. When we love the blessings more than God, they enslave us and disappoint us.
Jonathan Edwards said:
God is the highest good of the reasonable creature; and the enjoyment of him is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.
Without Him, everything—including the good things—is meaningless, futile, absolute vanity. With Him, there is joy. Augustine said, “Instead of vanity beneath the sun, there is joy under Him who made the sun.”
Only the King of kings can rescue us from the vanity of vanities.