Fear God Now Because Old Age and Death Come Quickly
1 So remember your Creator in the days of your youth –
before the difficult days come,
and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
2 before the sun and the light of the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds disappear after the rain;
3 when those who keep watch over the house begin to tremble,
and the virile men begin to stoop over,
and the grinders begin to cease because they grow few,
and those who look through the windows grow dim,
4 and the doors along the street are shut;
when the sound of the grinding mill grows low,
and one is awakened by the sound of a bird,
and all their songs grow faint,
5 and they are afraid of heights and the dangers in the street;
the almond blossoms grow white,
and the grasshopper drags itself along,
and the caper berry shrivels up –
because man goes to his eternal home,
and the mourners go about in the streets –
6 before the silver cord is removed,
or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is shattered at the well,
or the water wheel is broken at the cistern –
7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the life’s breath returns to God who gave it.
Concluding Refrain: Qoheleth Restates His Thesis
8 “Absolutely futile!” laments the Teacher,
“All of these things are futile!”
Concluding Epilogue: Qoheleth’s Advice is Wise
9 Not only was the Teacher wise,
but he also taught knowledge to the people;
he carefully evaluated and arranged many proverbs.
10 The Teacher sought to find delightful words,
and to write accurately truthful sayings.
11 The words of the sages are like prods,
and the collected sayings are like firmly fixed nails;
they are given by one shepherd.
Concluding Exhortation: Fear God and Obey His Commands!
12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
There is no end to the making of many books,
and much study is exhausting to the body.
13 Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
because this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God will evaluate every deed,
including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
C H Spurgeon
Ecclesiastes 12:1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth:
Now we get on solid ground. There is an irony in the advice, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes.” There is no irony here; there is solid, sound advice: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” May every young man take this advice, and carry it out!
Ecclesiastes 12:1. While the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble,
These arms and hands of ours shake by reason of weakness.
Ecclesiastes 12:3. And the strong men shall bow themselves,
These limbs, these legs of ours, begin to bend under the weight they have to support.
Ecclesiastes 12:3. And the grinders cease because they are few,
The teeth are gone.
Ecclesiastes 12:3. And those that look out of the windows be darkened,
The eyesight begins to fail.
Ecclesiastes 12:4. And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;
The old man sleeps very lightly; anything awakens him. He hides away from public business. The doors are shut in the streets.
Ecclesiastes 12:5. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way:
There is none of the courage of youth. Daring is gone; prudence, not to say cowardice, sits on the throne.
Ecclesiastes 12:5. And the almond tree shall flourish,
The hair is white and grey, like the early peach or almond tree in the beginning of the year.
Ecclesiastes 12:5. And the grasshopper shall be a burden,
A little trouble weighs the old man down. He has no energy now. The grasshopper is a burden.
Ecclesiastes 12:5. And desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets; or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken,
Before the spinal cord is broken, or the skull becomes emptied of the living inhabitants.
Ecclesiastes 12:6. Or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
The circulation of the blood begins to fail, the heart grows weak, it will soon stop. The man’s career is nearly over.
Ecclesiastes 12:7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
This will happen to us all, either to return to dust or else return to God. Whether we die, and return to dust, or live until the coming of Christ, our spirit shall return to God who gave it. May the return be a joyous one for each of us!
Ecclesiastes 12:8. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge;
Yes, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, They prick us onward, as the goad does the bullock, when he is trying to stop instead of ploughing in the furrow.
Ecclesiastes 12:11. And as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.
The words of the wise are driven home, like nails, and clinched. There is one Shepherd who, by means of his servants’ words, leads his flock where he would have them go.
Ecclesiastes 12:12. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the duty of man. Or, “this is the whole of man.” It makes a man of him when he fears God and keeps his commandments; he has that which makes him “the whole man.”
Ecclesiastes 12:14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
Depend upon it that it will be so. At the last great day, there will be a revelation of everything, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Nor need the righteous fear that revelation, for they will only magnify in that day the amazing grace of God which has put all their iniquities away; and then shall all men know how great the grace of God was in passing by iniquity, transgression, and sin.