Behold, this have I found, saith the preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:
Which yet my soul seeketh, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.
Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
Behold, this have I found is a statement the Preacher makes when he has come to a conclusion or realization he has made. He believes it to be complete truth, and one that I find infinitely sad:
There is only one man in a thousand who has godly wisdom; only one who seeks after God and lives his life wisely.
There is not one—NOT ONE!–woman in a thousand who lives a godly life and seeks after God.
Was it true that there were no women in Israel who followed after God? No, I don’t think so. I believe that what Solomon was telling us here is that none of his 300 wives, none of his 700 concubines living in his harem, sought after God. Not one.
We have to remember that many of his marriages were made as political alliances; we don’t know much about how he gathered the rest of his women. I believe he was susceptible to a pretty face, and of course, as king, he could take any young woman he chose.
I believe that his statement here reflects more on the manner of his choosing than on the relative godliness of men and women. Perhaps every woman who caught his eye held, in his mind, the hope of being the godly woman he desired. I also believe that any wise woman with a godly family would deliberately avoid being in the kings’s presence. She was safer to stay hidden, to cover her face in public, to avoid being taken against her will into a luxurious prison from which she would never escape.
We know that Solomon valued virtue in women from what he wrote in Proverbs 31 and Eccl. 9:9. His mother, Bathsheba, was a woman he admired and respected.
The Preacher closes this chapter with the observation that God created mankind to seek after Himself, but that man, in his fallen nature, seeks many different paths that lead away from God. His own vanity, pride, and rebellious spirit lead him into a life that is not centered on God.
Solomon knew. It was the way he chose to live, too.