I thought to myself, “I have become much wiser than any of my predecessors who ruled over Jerusalem; I have acquired much wisdom and knowledge.” So I decided to discern the benefit of wisdom and knowledge over foolish behavior and ideas; however, I concluded that even this endeavor is like trying to chase the wind! For with great wisdom comes great frustration; whoever increases his knowledge merely increases his heartache. -Ecclesiastes 1:16-18 (NET2)
Anyone who has spent any time in the book of Proverbs knows the immense value of wisdom as it is described and cherished there. Even in the pages of the Apocrypha, there is a ‘Book of Wisdom’ and other relevant writings on the subject that hold it in very high esteem. The wisdom mentioned in those writings is not what I believe Solomon is talking about in Ecclesiastes. The wisdom he refers to in chapter 1 is secular in nature.
To paraphrase the writing of Matthew Henry, there is much labor in acquiring knowledge, but little good can come from it if it is gained without a proper understanding of the source of all truth, who is God. The MacArthur Study Bible says this: When Solomon depended on empirical research rather than divine revelation to understand life, he found it to be an empty experience . Isn’t that pretty much true of anything sought without the LORD?