“Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.” (Eccles. 6:9)
Not all desire is bad, of course. Marital desire, as prescribed by God, is an integral part of a normal, happy marriage (Gen. 3; Song of Sol. 7:10). And desire for God and the things of God are just as basic in the normal, happy Christian life (Psl. 73:25; 1 Pet. 2:2; Heb. 11:16). Just like love (and even hate), desire well placed is pleasing to God, and healthy for the individual. But also like the other two, when desire is ill placed and unbridled, it is neither holy nor healthy.
The thing about desire, says Solomon in this verse, is that it has a tendency to “wander.” In its natural state, it’s insatiable. Matthew Henry describes it as “the uneasy walking of the soul after things at a distance, and the affecting of a variety of imaginary satisfactions.” It’s the aimless meandering from one “soul-mate” to another, one location to another, one amusement to another, one drug or drink to another, one “toy” or gadget to another, one job to another, and even one church to another. What is there before our eyes no longer shines, stimulates, or satisfies; so our desire begins to wander elsewhere.
As you can see, I’ve brought myself back to a subject I often feel constrained to address: discontent; perhaps because I see it so much in others, or perhaps because I see it so much in me. It seems to me that the hardest thing in life to get is…enough. For some reason, we can’t seem to bring ourselves to believe Psalm 145:16 & 19? “Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing…He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him.” Oh, we say we believe it; but like Eve, who had access to every tree in the garden but one, we always seem to want something else. In her case, it led to horrific consequences, and it can sometimes be almost as devastating for us. At the least, says Solomon, it leads to “vexation of spirit.” It leaves one in a state of perpetual discontent and restless anticipation.
Those things that come to us from the hand of God in His will bring greater satisfaction than anything this world has to offer. Look around; what do you see? This is what God has given you and where He has placed you now. If you cannot be content with this, you will not be content with anything else. You will always be one of those who suffer from wandering desire. (By the way, I was talking to myself; but if the shoe fits…)