I would submit that Western culture has got to be the most sex-obsessed since ancient Rome. I won’t go into details, since this is a PG devotional, but you know what I’m referring to. Billboards, TV, movies, popular music, and especially the internet have all fed this. But there’s a major problem with it, which is even worse than the depictions themselves: They don’t show the end result.
Some people, even nonbelievers, are starting to recognize why this is bad. They want us to turn away from the more animalistic desires to the more refined ones. They’re still hedonists, in a way, but their pleasures are more geared to the spiritual side of humanity. They take gratification in the arts, in human creativity, in philosophy, in great works of literature, etc.
The interesting thing is that today’s passage actually speaks to both avenues of approach. First for the physical side. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. If he had sex with a different woman every night, then he wouldn’t have to repeat himself for over three years. He lived a life that many, if not most, men fantasize about. And if he wanted more, who'd ever stop him? If he showed any restraint at all, it certainly wasn’t due to peer pressure from surrounding nations: It was the norm for a king, when he saw someone or something he wanted, to just take it. It’s a life that Hugh Hefner could only dream of.
But his pursuits, despite what some other men might choose, weren’t just in the physical realm. He indulged his creativity, designing and building grand houses and gardens and parks. He constructed the temple of God, taking six years, and his own palace, which took thirteen. He bought slaves and flocks. He accumulated gold and silver, making himself the richest man in the world at that time.
And just in case we missed the point, here it is: “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.” He even had the pleasure of seeing his projects successfully finished—he “took delight” in all his work.
And after all those years of having sex with multiple women, with indulging his creative side, with seeing the completion of all his work, at the end of his life, how did he summarize it all? “Meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” He said that “nothing was gained,” so it was all a waste of time.
But what’s the point here? Is God anti-pleasure? Of course not. He’s all in favor of it. And I’m not just talking about the spiritual side of things. He also created physical pleasure. Who do you think created sex? Who do you think designed the pleasure sensors on your tongue, so you can tell the difference between sweet and bland? Who do you think gave us the desire and ability to create and design works of art, such as architecture?
But to pursue those things, like Solomon did, is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. If you let the Lord guide you through life, you’ll be amazed at how many pleasures there are out there. Too bad Solomon didn’t listen to his father David. Psalm 16 tells us “[he] will fill me with joy in [his] presence, with eternal pleasures at [his] right hand.” He really is the source of all lasting pleasure. Just trust him, and do things his way, and you can’t go wrong.
Father, even after all these years of knowing you, I still hear the siren's call. Your way is best. I know it, and I’ve seen it. Help me to trust you, please.
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