Ecclesiastes 11:1–5, 9–10; 12:13–14 comment (0)
August 22, 2013
By Douglas K. Wilson Jr.
Related Scripture: Ecclesiastes 11:1–5, 9–10; 12:13–14
Explore the Bible
Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
WHAT’S THE ANSWER?
Ecclesiastes 11:1–5, 9–10; 12:13–14
The final two chapters of Ecclesiastes can be summed up in this way: God is the answer. There, you have it. Discover God now; enjoy your life as a gift from Him. If not, you may grow old and regret the wasted years apart from God. If so, you may have a story to tell to your grandchildren.
My grandfather came to Christ in 1912 as the result of a sermon based on Ecclesiastes. He was 11 years old. It made quite an impression on him. He conveyed the story to me 74 years later, just one week before he died. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth … before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken” (12:1, 6).
Invest in Life (11:1–5)
Interpretations of verses 11:1–5 are interesting, if not entertaining. Critical scholars suggest, for example, that verse one refers to the author’s plan for international shipping rather than as encouragement to invest in others by showing generosity. Personally I give verse two as a biblical reason for having six children. When all our kids are home, we give portions to eight (or more). Be diligent, be generous and be prepared. If you are gazing at the sky, you will not sow your seeds or reap your harvest. Quit your lollygagging.
The author’s thoughts about clouds lead him to the magnificence of God. With all meteorological knowledge gained through science, the path of the wind is still a mystery to everyone but God. Even hurricane predictions are based on educated models, not on certainties. With all the discoveries in biology, genetics and physiology, only God can explain why twin babies, created from the same fertilized egg, have unique characteristics. The handiwork of God is a mystery to us.
Work Within the Boundaries (11:9–10)
Rejoice in God and be glad while you are young. Enjoy the life God has granted you. Walk in the ways of your heart and your eyes, but remember that you are accountable to God. Avoid sorrow and pain, because you will likely have plenty of time to experience them. These two verses are a prelude.
In the passage that follows (12:1–7), Solomon paints an extraordinary portrait of life as one grows older. “Remember” carries with it the idea of rehearsing in one’s mind, thinking continually upon his Creator in his youthful days. Think about God while life is relatively carefree. Hardships will be here soon enough.
Eyesight will fade. Hands will tremble; backs will no longer stand straight. Teeth will come out; ears will no longer enjoy the sweet sounds that they used to hear. Sleep becomes scarce as the older man rises early. Staying home is preferred. Hair turns gray or white. The spring in his step has sprung. Finally he passes, and his loyal friends mourn for him.
The spirit is loosed from the body like an arrow from a bow. His broken body no longer holds its contents. Adam returns to the dust. God’s breath returns to Him. Is this futility? No, it reminds us that life is temporary.
Revere and Obey God (12:13–14)
Wisdom is worthwhile only to the person who applies it. Solomon studied, considered, “weighed, explored and arranged” wisdom literature (12:9), taught by masterful observers of human nature. Words of wisdom prod us, anchor us and remind us of our need for the Good Shepherd. In Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God is personified (1 Cor. 1:24).
Aesop’s Fables are known for their moral teachings. In Ecclesiastes, the student must read to the end of the book to receive the Teacher’s lesson. Revere God and demonstrate your reverence by obeying Him; this is the moral to the story. Here is the homework assignment for the rest of your life. “Fear God and keep His commands” (12:13).