ECCLESIASTES CHAPTER 12.
The Duty of rearing God in Every Age of Life.
AN APPEAL TO THE YOUNG. — V. 1. Remember, now, thy Creator in the days of thy youth, with a feeling of reverence and gratitude for the many blessings received, the product of true faith in the heart, while the evil days come not, those of advanced age, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them, when the vigor of youth and maturity is replaced by the feeling of decay and the feebleness of senility; v. 2. while the sun, or the light, the refreshing beauty of the morning light, or the moon, or the stars be not darkened, when the light of youthful life is darkened by the shadows of advancing old age, nor the clouds return after the rain, one misfortune or calamity following another; v. 3. in the day when the keepers of the house, all the members and organs of the body, especially the hands and feet, shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, bent over with the weight of age, the legs no longer standing upright, but crooked and misshapen with the various ailments of age, and the grinders cease because they are few, the teeth, particularly the molars, having decayed and fallen out, and those that look out of the windows, the eyes admitting light to the body, be darkened, as sight becomes feeble, v.4. and the doors shall be shut in the streets, the mouth, with the upper and lower lips, no longer being able to perform its function of speaking well, when the sound of the grinding is low, the voice, breathing out from the wall of the teeth, lacking the power and force of youth, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, his voice being reduced to the low, whispering sound of old men, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low, the ears, growing deaf, no longer enjoy the singing as in former days; v. 5. also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, since their strength will no longer permit their climbing, and fears shall be in the way, they are readily overcome with timidity, they no longer have the courage to overcome perils and obstacles, and the almond-tree shall flourish, whose white blossoms in the midst of winter were a fitting symbol of old age with its silvery hair, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, when even the least weight becomes distressing, and desire shall fail, when interest in almost everything languishes and dies, because man goeth to his long home, he is rapidly approaching death and the grave, which will hold him for many years, and the mourners, having come to give him an honorable burial, go about the streets; v. 6. or ever the silver cord, that by which the lamp of life was supposed to be suspended, be loosed, the thread of life being severed, or the golden bowl, conceived to be holding the oil of life, be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, the body, particularly with its organs of respiration, being compared to a vessel for drawing water regularly, or the wheel, with which the water was raised from the reservoir, broken at the cistern, the reference being to the breaking down of the whole mechanism of the body in death. V. 7. Then shall the dust, out of which man was formed at the beginning, Gen. 2, 7, return to the earth as it was, Gen. 3, 19, and the spirit, namely, of every one that died in the true faith, shall return unto God, who gave it; for into the hands of God all His children commend their souls at all times. Note: This paragraph is one of the most beautiful poetical passages in the entire Bible and deserves to be studied for its form as well as for its contents, the earnest and searching admonition contained in its lofty sentences.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE BOOK. — V. 8. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, who now summarizes the teaching of the entire book; all is vanity, the entire human life in itself is empty and futile. V. 9. And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, speaking on the basis of many years’ experience, with the wisdom given him from on high, he still taught the people knowledge, dispensing it orally whenever opportunity offered; yea, he gave good heed, he considered, weighed, marked carefully, and sought out and set in order, after such careful meditation and reflection, many proverbs, which were transmitted in writing to serve a wider circle. V. 10. The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, setting forth his maxims in a pleasant, appealing way; and that which was written was upright, simple and straightforward, even words of truth, unmistakable in their meaning. V. 11. The words of the wise are as goads, their inspired character causing them to pierce deeply into the mind, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, uniting the individual statements in collections, or books, which are given from one shepherd, a single wise and inspired teacher directing the editing of the book, as we see in the case of Solomon’s books. V. 12. And further, by these, by the proverbs and maxims of wisdom, my son, be admonished, Solomon here speaking with fatherly affection. Of making many books there is no end, the number of useless and even dangerous books having increased to such an extent as to make them an outright menace; and much study is a weariness of the flesh, aimless reading, particularly of harmful books, weakens mind and body. V. 13. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, over against the unsystematic devouring of books resulting in mental and spiritual indigestion: Fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man, sanctification flowing out of reverence of faith. V. 14. For God shall bring every work into Judgment, everything being revealed before Him on the Last Day, with every secret thing, which men foolishly and fatuously believed they could hide before His omniscience, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless,” 2 Pet. 3, 14.