What is evil? Is it suffering? Is it cruelty? Or is it meaninglessness? Is it a thing? Or a feeling? Is it like the definition of pornography from former Supreme Court justice Rehnquist -“I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it?” King Solomon was the wisest man (i.e. male person with only one nature, human, not divine) who ever lived. Rulers and sages came from all over the world to seek his wisdom.
The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.
That’s from Ecclesiastes 1:1. You may wonder, what does that have to do with evil? Let’s visit with Solomon for a moment. How did Solomon receive his wisdom? The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” 5Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. – 1 Kings 3:1-12. Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. – 1 Kings 10:23-24
However, this great gift came with a great responsibility. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days. 1 Kings 3:14. Perhaps it is unfortunate that God also blessed Solomon’s reign with great riches, beyond any of the kings in the world at that time, or even all times. Why do I say, unfortunately? His great wealth and power went to his head, and another part of his anatomy. Now King Solomon loved many foreign women….1 Kings 11:1. He did exactly what God told him not to do, because the foreign women would turn his heart from the one true God, who had performed incredible miracles for the Israelites and for Solomon. Turn his heart to what? The foreign women he loved worshipped idols and sacrificed human beings, often children, to those worthless idols, then after worshipping, they might use the wooden idol for their fire, to cook food on. Solomon knew of the power and miracles of God, yet gradually he started worshipping false gods of wood and stone.
He wrote Ecclesiastes after endless experimentation with sex, building stuff, and studying everything in the material world, only to discover emptiness. At the end of his life he returned to God, but by that time Israel was under God’s judgment. Solomon died after reigning 40 years, but after his death, God tore the nation in two through causing Solomon’s son to make a very foolish decision. So Solomon received so much, but in the end discovered it was all for naught, and instead of continued prosperity, his nation fell into generations of war and division. That’s pretty evil. Solomon wasn’t evil but he was deceived. How was he deceived?
I think that evil comes down to worshipping the wrong things. Like Solomon, people worship money, sex, power or concepts, like “the people” (Marxism) or the environment, but at the end of things, worshipping God who created us is the only comfort. 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Solomon said that at the end of Ecclesiastes. He also said, “that is the end of the matter.”