The quest of the writer of Ecclesiastes is for a fixed value (“profit”) in this life that can serve as a foundation. He examines and discards as bankrupt of real value one item after another. The meaning of life is not to be found in human wisdom, in pleasure, in wealth, in great accomplishments or in materialism. Even human life itself, in any secular, humanistic sense, cannot be the “profit” which Solomon seeks.
Are we then doomed to despair when we look for meaning in life? No. Underneath his entire quest is the conviction that meaning in life must be found not “under the sun,” but “above the sun,” in the fear and obedience of God (Eccl. 12:13).
As with the Preacher of Ecclesiastes, the challenge to us who live in this age of greed and materialism is to not seek “real value” in earthly things and comfortable lifestyles, but to concentrate on those things which are above (Col. 3:1). We will find our fulfillment in God alone.