Are you familiar with the Charles Dickens classic ‘A Christmas Carol’? If so, you may remember a scene from late in the story, where the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge what the world is like shortly after he dies. The world goes on as though Scrooge never lived. No cared that he had died. All his wealth meant nothing; no one was better off because Scrooge had worked so hard and amassed so much wealth. In essence, Scrooge is made to realize that his whole life was a meaningless waste.
As we turn the page to Eccl. chapter 4, we are nearing the end of Solomon’s pondering. We will see that he reaches the exact same conclusion: that his life was a meaningless waste. The tragedy is that he did it to himself. God set Solomon up to live a life that would have a meaningful impact on Israel. All he had to do was use the wisdom God gave him to live a life pleasing to him. God would have handled the rest. Solomon made other choices instead. Only near the end of his life did he figure out his mistake. But it was too late.