Ecclesiastes 12. Solomon s conclusion to his search of all things under Heaven

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1 Solomon s conclusion to his search of all things under Heaven Earlier today we began a study of We saw the book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon, the wisest man to ever live. Solomon decided to use this wisdom to examine all things that man does here on earth. Several times thru out the book Solomon says the things of this life are vanity We find the conclusion to his search in Chapter 12 1

2 We discussed in our last lesson the advice that Solomon gives to the young. Ec 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth He is trying to impress on the young to obey God now! Now, because none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Jas 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. He wants them to obey God while they are young because they will not always be young As we grow older difficult times will come and our bodies will begin to fail. Ec 12:1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them": Youthfulness is fleeting. We have it for just a short period of time and then it is gone. 2

3 Because youth is fleeting and our bodies fail physically we will face difficult times. Solomon in the next few verses gives a vivid description of what we may face if we live a normal lifetime. Let s read verses 1-8 and then we will come back and comment on them individually. Ec 12:1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them": 2 While the sun and the light, The moon and the stars, Are not darkened, And the clouds do not return after the rain; 3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, And the strong men bow down; When the grinders cease because they are few, And those that look through the windows grow dim; 3

4 4 When the doors are shut in the streets, And the sound of grinding is low; When one rises up at the sound of a bird, And all the daughters of music are brought low; 5 Also they are afraid of height, And of terrors in the way; When the almond tree blossoms, The grasshopper is a burden, And desire fails. For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. 7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8 "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "All is vanity." 4

5 What a sad description is given of those who failed to remember their creator in the days of their youth. If all we have to look forward to is the decay of this physical body, how sad that would be. Solomon uses figurative language to describe the problems that come with old age. I don t pretend to know what he is talking about with each one of these analogies but I think we can ascertain with some certainty most of them and without a doubt be able to understand his overall point. Ec 12:2 While the sun and the light, The moon and the stars, Are not darkened, And the clouds do not return after the rain; 5

6 Solomon encourages the young to serve God before these things happen to them. One thing we see often in the aged is the failing of the eyes. The sun, moon and stars are not as bright once the eyes begin to fail Solomon describes this as a cloudy or dark and dreary time. Ec 12:3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, And the strong men bow down; When the grinders cease because they are few, And those that look through the windows grow dim; Almost every commentary I read is in agreement that the keepers of the house are referring to the hands and arms. As we grow old we lose the strength we once had in our hands and arms 6

7 At my age, which I would consider to be middle age, I can tell my hands are not as strong as they once were. Solomon says these keepers of the house (the hands and arms) tremble. Not with fear but with age. As we get older our hands begin to shake and become unsteady. All of us have seen this and may have experienced it. He goes on in verse 3 and says And the strong men bow down Adam Clark has this to say The legs become feeble, and unable to support the weight of the body. Most every other commentator agreed this is referring to the legs. The once strong supporters of the body will seem to bend under its weight in old age. The young generally do not understand the difficulty of just getting up and moving around faced by the aged. 7

8 The legs that once jumped and ran, now are careful with every step. Remember what Solomon is doing. He is encouraging the young to follow God now, before their bodies get into this condition. Solomon continues his description of the aged in vs 3 by saying When the grinders cease because they are few I believe the grinders he is referring to is the teeth. Even in the society in which we live with access to dental hygiene, fluoride, toothpaste and highly trained dentist in every city. Many still lose their teeth or their grinders as they age. For those who can afford it bridges, dentures or false teeth are available but imagine what it would be like without these. The grinders would cease. We would have to quit eating solid food. 8

9 Finally in vs 3 Solomon once again in my opinion makes a reference to the failing eyes of the aged those that look through the windows grow dim Those who have had perfect eyesight as a youth many times need glasses as they age. We may start off with reading glasses but as the eyes worsen, prescriptions get stronger and some lose their sight all together. If this is all we have to look forward to then what a sad condition we find ourselves in. Solomon continues this description in vs 4 Ec 12:4 When the doors are shut in the streets, And the sound of grinding is low; When one rises up at the sound of a bird, And all the daughters of music are brought low; 9

10 In contrast to the young who are always on the go, the old many times rarely leave their home. The doors stay shut to their homes. We use a similar phrase today describing those who cannot get out and go because of feebleness. We call them shut ins Commentators are not in as much agreement about the meaning of these next couple of analogies. I will attempt to tell you what I think Solomon is referring to. the sound of grinding is low I believe Solomon is saying the ears have failed to the point the aged can barely hear themselves chew with the few teeth they have left. 10

11 What may seem odd about this is the slightest sound disturbs their sleep and they rise early unable to sleep When one rises up at the sound of a bird With the aches and pains that come with old age it takes very little to disturb their uncomfortable sleep. Solomon concludes vs 4 with a reference to the loss of hearing of the aged. all the daughters of music are brought low The description of the aged continues in verse 5 Ec 12:5 Also they are afraid of height, And of terrors in the way; When the almond tree blossoms, The grasshopper is a burden, And desire fails. For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets. they are afraid of height As we age and our physical bodies begin to fail, a fear of heights begins to manifest itself. 11

12 The aged recognize the feebleness of their bodies and the damage even the slightest fall can cause. To fall from the shortest height like a ladder or stairs could be devastating because of weakened muscles and frail bones. There have been many times we have heard of the elderly falling and breaking bones especially hips. Solomon also says the aged are afraid of of terrors in the way Not only do the aged fear the fall from heights but there is even fear in the way (on reasonably level ground) It seems the slightest of things can cause one to stumble and fall. A small rock, crack in a sidewalk, a loose piece of carpet and sometimes just from weakness. 12

13 Solomon says old age is the time in life when the almond tree blossoms. The comparison is between the white blossoms on the almond tree and the grey hair on the aged s head. The strength the body knew as a youth is now gone and even the smallest of loads is difficult to carry The grasshopper is a burden The desire for the things of this life begins to fade. desire fails Many begin to look forward to the end of life in this condition. 13

14 Mans final end is described in the end of vs 5 For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets. The final insult to those who care nothing about God is their body that once was young and strong breaks down over time and finally quits! Nothing is more important than to plan for this time while we are young All of us will meet this fate. We will all die! Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, We only have one chance to get things right in this life. Solomon continues the thought of obeying God before it is to late in vs 6 Ec 12:6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. 14

15 Solomon encourages all to remember their Creator before this life ends He uses a few different items to describe the end of life. the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken This may be referring to the oil lamps they used to hang by a cord in order to give off light. When the cord breaks and the bowl falls and is broken then the light goes out forever. When our bodies finally quit the light of our life will be extinguished Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. I believe Solomon is pointing out the finality of physical death. 15

16 Once this body has died there will be no coming back. Just like the broken pitcher at the fountain and the broken wheel at the well can no longer serve their purpose. This body once it is dead has no further use. It will just rot away and return to the dust from which it came. Ec 12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it. This is a reference to God forming man from the dust of the earth in Genesis chapter 2. 16

17 This was the curse that God placed on man when he was removed from the Garden of Eden. Ge 3:19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return. How sad it would be if all we had to look forward to in this life would be to grow old and die Thankfully there is something more. Our spirit will return to God who gave it! Solomon wraps up this section about the problems of old age with the following phrase Ec 12:8 "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "All is vanity. I believe the point he is making is this. If we are only concerned with the things of this life and make no provisions for our eternal soul then what a worthless life ours will be. 17

18 Our eyes will grow dim Our limbs will grow weak Our teeth will fall out Our strength will fail. Then eventually this body will die. Solomon is encouraging the young to obey God before these things happen to you We can wait too late! It may seem that Solomon is being hard on the elderly Ec 12:1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them": Remember he is talking about those who care nothing for God. A child of God can certainly have joy and happiness in their old age. 18

19 Joy is one of the fruits of living a spiritual life. Ga 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Certainly the Apostle Paul had joy in his old age when he considered his eternal home. He wrote what may have been his final letter to Timothy shortly before he was going to be executed. 2Ti 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 19

20 I don t detect any sadness in this but instead a sense of joy that his reward is near. Solomon wraps up this chapter in verses 13&14 Ec 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. The wisest man to live comes to the conclusion that we must fear God and keep his commandments. This is why we are here. To obey our Creator. This is man s duty 20

21 Conclusion Of all the things Solomon examined the only thing that really mattered was obeying God. This is the only thing that can prepare us to stand before God in judgment. Both young and old alike will have to answer to God for the things we have done in this life. What will our answer be? 21

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