-Chapter 12, the concluding chapter of Ecclesiastes, begins with the completion of thoughts discussed at the end of chapter 11 concerning youth and the proper application of it. Solomon tells the youth to remember their Creator while they are young, “before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them; before the sun and the light, the moon and the stars are darkened, and clouds return after the rain.’” In those days of being elderly, the Preacher gives some description of the plight of growing old. This is when the watchmen of the house tremble (think of the trembling-feeble state of old people). Mighty men, when they are aged, stoop with bad posture due to the effects are living a long-hard life. The grinding ones refer to teeth, which are often gone in the old people. They stand idle to chew, because they are few. Eyesight also goes bad, as represented by the view out of windows growing dim that the king presents. Hearing is awful too, as they can’t hear doors being shut on the street or the sound of the grinding mill. Old people rise early (I can remember my grandfather and now father playing this fact out), with the sound of only the birds. All the daughters of song singing softly deals with the gentleness that we typically expect when dealing with the aged ones of our society. Furthermore, the king relates to us how the old men are no longer courageous in their exploits of valor. They become “afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road.” In our time, this has to do often with driving and the caution we often see with the elderly. Almond blossoms are white, like old people’s grey hair, which is a sign of glory and honor (Proverbs 16:31; 20:29). “The grasshopper drags himself along” refers to the manner in which the elderly get around with hardship and pain as their time to depart earth hastens. The caperberry ('abiyownah- stimulating appetite or desire with both food and sex) becomes ineffective as people get ready for their graduation from earth to their eternal home. As mourners go about in the street, a person’s spirit departs for the afterlife. All in this world is passing, broken, shattered, and crushed. Silver and gold cannot enter into the next life. “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” The Preacher calls earthly life, in the context of this fading world, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8)!”
-As the book concludes, Solomon, using his title “Preacher,” adds to the fact he was a wise man that he also taught the people knowledge by pondering, searching out, and arranging many proverbs. He sought to find “delightful words” and to write “words of truth correctly.” The words of spiritually wise men are like ox goads and “masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd (I believe referring to the Messiah, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father).” Beyond this, or in this temporal world, he warns his son that the “writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books (or mindless learning) is wearying to the body.” “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14).”
-*Application* It is a beautiful thing to watch the people of God grow old with His mercy and everlasting grace, which comes out of a fearful-reverence of Him. There is a gentle-quiet spirit that we observe when people truly KNOW the LORD and are assured of their final resting place with Him in Heaven. The damaging effects of this sinful world are real, and they help us to long for a better existence (Romans 8:16-23). We can’t stop ole father time, but we can receive the redemption that Jesus Christ offers through a new spiritual birth and everlasting-perfect life with Him in the eschaton (1 Corinthians 15, 2 Corinthians 5:17). I believe this is the whole and true wisdom of this book as we consider the futility of life here on earth and start to think in a new and lasting direction with Christ Jesus as our wonderful Savior. He becomes the positive, He becomes the life, He becomes the way, He becomes the truth (John 14:6). At the time of this writing, I have completed 48 trips around the sun. While my physical is waning, and I feel it powerfully on some days as I get older and older, my inner man is growing stronger and more powerful by His amazing grace, miraculous mercy, and unending faithful love (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Praise be to our God. Nothing is vanity with Him at the helm. There is indeed no hope in this life, but tons of it in the next if we have the Savior, Jesus Christ. For a great song dealing with this theme, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xhf-BO_2wGw It will take about 11 minutes, but it’s well worth our time.
Verses to Memorize: Ecclesiastes 12:1, 7, 13-14