God asked him what he wanted and Solomon asked for wisdom. A good thing. Very good, everyone seemed to think. And God gave him piles of it, along with piles of everything else--power, wealth, wives.
It started out all right, like the dead baby incident, when wisdom came in pretty handy for figuring stuff out.
With time, however, wisdom brought Solomon a kind of clarity he didn't particularly like, and he wrote about it in Ecclesiastes.
Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!--Ecclesiastes 1:2
So this is where wisdom leads? Apparently, it is.
God's gift of wisdom gave Solomon a clear view of man, much clearer than he liked. And this is what he saw:
Work achieves nothing lasting (Ecc 2:11)
Men continually mess up (Ecc 7:20 and 8:14)
Riches and wisdom make little difference in the end (Ecc 10:6)
God showed Solomon that, even though he was a great man, he was still a man.
This only have I found: God made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.--Ecc 7:29
God showed him that, for all Solomon's wisdom, he was still a sinner.
There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.--Ecc 7:20
Solomon thought his wisdom would help make him a better man. Instead, it only helped him see mankind's failings more clearly. In the end, wisdom differed very little from any other possession he'd accumulated.
God graciously put Solomon in his place, and Solomon left a bit deflated, but finally seeing with a wisdom greater than his own.
In the end, Solomon concluded this:
Live your life, remembering that you sin.
Be happy as you can with what you are given, remembering that it will not last.
Love God. Obey Him, remembering that only He sees righteousness clearly, and only His perfect wisdom lasts forever. (Ecc 7:13, 12:13)
Not what Solomon expected, but not so bad after all.