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Book of Ecclesiastes
 

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Ecclesiastes 12

King James Version
Remember Your Creator While Young (continued)
1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:
3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,
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;
5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high,
and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.
7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

The Conclusion of the Matter
9 And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.
10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.
11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.
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.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.1

 

Bible Commentary
1
Solomon says to remember that you are not your own, but God's property; for He has created you.2 In this verse Solomon contrasts youth with the evil days. In early manhood a person is physically at maximum vigour. At this time the vital forces of life should be devoted to God and used to His glory. Old age brings infirmities and disabilities. Its days are evil in the sense of being burdened with misery and vexation. When the desires, incentives, and hopes of abounding youth have gone, there is then little of enthusiasm in a man's life.3
2 The fading luminaries of heaven are used to illustrate the approach of old age. The clouds are figurative of advancing age with its dulling of the natural faculties.3
3 Verses 3 to 5 describe the physical evidences of old age. The body of man is here compared to a house. The keepers or hands and arms which protect the body, as guards do a palace, often become paralytic in old age.2,4 Once strong men bow themselves when the body becomes stooped, and the feeble legs are unable to support the weight of the body. The grinders or teeth are decayed and mostly lost. The few remaining are incapable of masticating hard substances. Those that look out the window or the eyes, lose their power of vision.4
4 The lips are the doors by which the mouth is closed. The streets or mouth is the vehicle through which the food travels before it is fitted by mastication or chewing to go down the aesophagus into the stomach. In old age the lips are closely shut together as doors to prevent food from dropping out. The teeth which prevented that before, are now lost.4 The teeth being almost gone and the lips shut in eating, the sound of grinding or mastication is scarcely heard.2,4 The old do not sleep as soundly as they used to, now slumbering rather than sleeping. The least noise such as the chirping of a sparrow is sufficient to awaken them.4 The daughters of music brought low refer to the declining quality of the organs that produce and enjoy music, the voice and ear.2,3,4

5 An elderly person must often watch each step most carefully. The aged also often fear a public highway. Their bones are brittle, are consequently easily broken by a fall or any other accident, and heal slowly if at all. Also shortness of breath and stiffness of body make climbing any elevation a strenuous exertion. The white head of old age is compared to the white blossoms of an almond tree. Elderly people often feel very trivial things to be great burdens.3 Some commentators paint the picture of the old man as a caricature of the grasshopper. The dry, shrivelled old man with his backbone sticking out, his knees projecting forwards, his arms backwards, and head down almost looks like a grasshopper about to fly.  Like a grasshopper he has become a burden to himself.2 As the teeth are no longer able to masticate the food, or have all dropped out; the stomach no longer able to digest any thing; and as the body is no longer capable of receiving nourishment, appetite and relish necessarily fail. Also his desire for sensual pleasures and life itself fail. When man completes the duration of human life, when life is no longer desired, nutrition ceases and life terminates. At death he goes to his long home while the mourners go about the streets.4
6 This verse describes what happens within the body to produce death. Various Bible commentators are of the view that the silver cord refers to the spinal marrow of the backbone which is attached to the brain from which all the nerves proceed. The cord is described as silver because of its preciousness and silver grey colour. The cord is loosed, as the nervous system becomes relaxed and dysfunctional. At death, the cord is wholly debilitated. The bowl refers to the brain contained in the skull, and enveloped with the membranes. It's described as golden because of its colour and exceeding preciousness. It is broken when rendered unfit to perform its functions, neither supplying nor distributing any nervous energy.4 The pitcher refers to the veins, which channel blood back to the right ventricle of the heart. The heart is described as a fountain. The cistern refers to the left ventricle of the heart which pumps blood into the great aorta, to be distributed to the different parts of the system. By contraction and expansion the heart sends out, and afterwards receives back the blood.2,4 In ancient times rope was wound round a wheel to enable the pitcher to be let down to draw water from the fountain. Constant use or climatic conditions finally cause the wheel to disintegrate and collapse.3,4  When the pitcher and wheel are broken, water can no more be drawn, so life ceases when the vital energies are gone.2 Through the loosening of the silver cord or total relaxation of the nervous system the pitcher and wheel are broken or rendered useless. The heart becomes incapable of dilatation and contraction, so that the blood, on its return to the right ventricle of the heart, becomes stagnant. The lungs cease to respire; the blood is no longer oxidised, all motion, voluntary and involuntary, ceases and the man dies. At death the dust-formed body returns to the earth and the spirit or breath of life returns to God.4
7 The physical part of man decays and returns to the elements from which it came. The spirit that returns to God is the life principle imparted by God to both man and beast3 (see Ecclesiastes 3 Bible Commentary).
8 This affecting and minute description of old age and death is concluded by the author with the same exclamation by which he began this book: O vanity of vanities, all is vanity.4
9 Solomon, the preacher, taught the people who had assembled before him to hear his inspired wisdom.2,4
10 The preacher endeavoured to give the treatise that literary polish that would recommend it to those for whom it was particularly written - those who consider themselves wise in the things of this world. His endeavour to achieve a pleasing literary form had not, however, led him to compromise truth.3
11 The preacher refers to the counsel he has given as a goad for prodding men to follow a wise course of action, and as nails firmly driven, that the counsel not be forgotten. The masters of assemblies are inspired by the Chief Shepherd.2,3
12 Study entered into for its own sake, as an end in itself is futile. Only when study becomes a means to an end greater than itself can it avoid becoming a weariness of the flesh. When the author of all truth is recognised as the beginning of wisdom, and study becomes a means of seeking to think His thoughts after Him, in order that our lives may conform to the divine purpose that gives us being, then study becomes a thrilling pleasure.3
13 It is man's duty, his destiny, to obey God, and in so doing he will find supreme happiness. Whatever his lot may be, whether cast in adversity or prosperity, it remains his duty to yield loving obedience to his maker.3
14 Words as well as deeds will be judged. But God requires even more - even in his very thoughts man is to be obedient. God reads the secret motives of our hearts; He knows how much of the light of truth has penetrated the darkness of our hearts, and for every ray He will hold us accountable. In the great day of final reckoning it is those who have done the will of God who enter the kingdom.3
 

References and notes
1.  King James Authorized Version
2.  Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871) ECCLESIASTES; OR THE PREACHER. Commentary by A. R. FAUSSETT - http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/JamiesonFaussetBrown/jfb.cgi?book=ec&chapter=012
3.  Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary
- Vol. 3 pgs 1102-1105
4.  Adam Clarke's Commentaries - Ecclesiastes 12
- http://www.godrules.net/library/clarke/clarke.htm
5.  Christian Resource Centre (Bermuda) Ecclesiastes Horn, Siegfried H
- http://www.nisbett.com/summary/sum-o-18.htm
6 The Biblical Studies Foundation - The Poetic Books - http://www.bible.org/docs/ot/survey/ot-05.htm

 

 

 

Learn More About ...
 
Ecclesiastes 12
Bible Commentary
Meaning of Ecclesiastes
Index to Ecclesiastes

 

 

Bible Author

There are two lines of evidence (external and internal) that point to Solomon as the author of Ecclesiastes. For the external evidence, the Jewish tradition attributes the book to Solomon. Internally, a number of lines of evidence show that Solomon was surely the author. First, the author identifies himself as “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1). Then, references in the book to the author’s unrivaled wisdom (1:16), extreme wealth (2:7), opportunities for pleasure (2:3), and extensive building activities (2:4-6) all suggest Solomon as the author. There is simply no other descendant of David who measured up to these descriptions.6
 

 

Music for Ecclesiastes 12

An audio clip for Ecclesiastes 12 is currently unavailable. This song was composed in 1982 and may be recorded in a future Ecclesiastes album. Click on image to listen to other songs from the Bible in Song collection.
 

 

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Meaning of Ecclesiastes

Qoheleth is the name that the Book of Ecclesiastes bears in the Hebrew Bible. The author identifies himself by this title which means the "speaker" at a public assembly, or "preacher." Qoheleth introduces himself as "son of David, king in Jerusalem" (ch 1:1). He had "come to great estate" and had acquired "more wisdom" and "great experience of wisdom and knowledge" beyond his predecessors (Ec 1:16), as well as greater wealth (ch 2:7, 9).5
 

 

Solomon's Pursuit of Happiness

In Ecclesiastes Solomon sets forth his philosophy of life on the basis of his own experience. In succession he had sought ultimate happiness through the pursuit of knowledge, in sensory pleasure and luxury, and by magnificent building projects and vast enterprises.5
 

 

What Solomon Found

As a powerful young ruler blessed with unique wisdom and wealth, he had lacked no facilities in his quest for happiness, yet when he had secured all that human ingenuity could provide along each path of endeavour he found only "vanity and vexation of spirit" and concluded that in none of them was there any "profit under the sun".5
 

 

Existentialist Philosophy

What distressed Solomon more than anything else was the fact that at the close of a lifetime of labour the wise and diligent man was no better off than the fool, since both were alike in death, and what he had learned and gathered and produced must be left to men who may prove to be fools. Therefore he despaired of his labours and came to hate life itself. Instead of happiness he had found only vexation of heart. A cynical attitude darkened his outlook on life and, for practical purposes, he became an agnostic. Losing sight of God, his natural tendencies gained the supremacy over reason, and with his reason increasingly subordinated to inclination, his moral sensibilities were blunted, his conscience seared, and his judgment perverted. Toward the close of life he realised that a lifetime of folly had made him into "an old and foolish king".5
 

 

Conscience Awakened

Conscience awakened and Solomon saw folly in its true light. Spurred on by sincere repentance he sought to retrace his wayward steps, as best he might, and chastened in spirit he finally turned, wearied and thirsting, from earth's broken cisterns to drink once more at the fountain of life. Having himself learned the great lesson of life the hard way; Solomon sought to counteract his years of evil influence, and to guide others along the pathway to faith in God. Guided by Inspiration, he recorded the history of his wasted years, with their lessons of warning, setting forth a sound philosophy of life and clarifying the purpose of man's existence and stating in simple terms man's duty and destiny.5
 

 

Conclusion of the Whole Matter

In this life men are to be content with the opportunities and privileges God has afforded them, making the most of them in co-operation with, and obedience to, their Creator. In fact, "the conclusion of the whole matter" is that "the whole duty of man" can be summed up in the one admonition to "fear God, and keep his commandments", in view of the fact that when life is over man must be ready to stand in judgement before God.5
 

 

Synopsis of Ecclesiastes

In the prologue Solomon dwells upon the futility of life (Ec 1:1 to 11). Next he relates his own futile experience in quest of happiness (chs 1:12 to 2:26). Nevertheless, he affirms that there is a purpose to life, that there is an appropriate time for everything, and that even the seeming injustices of life are not without purpose (chs 3:1 to 4:8). He then contrasts the value of companionship, wisdom, reverence, and
justice (chs 4:9 to 5:9) with the folly of materialism, the incomprehensibility of suffering, and the seeming futility of human effort (chs 5:10 to 6:12). Character, an understanding of God's dealings with men, and a balanced outlook on life are the things worth striving for (ch 7:1 to 22). The closing chapters of the book summarise the disappointments and conflicts he has encountered in his search for wisdom (chs 7:23 to 8:15). God's ways are often inscrutable, but one may be content amid the vicissitudes of life in the certain knowledge that every deed will have its due reward (chs 8:16 to 12:14).5

 

 

Index to Ecclesiastes

The Index to Ecclesiastes is a great starting point for searching the Book of Ecclesiastes. The index page contains Daily Scriptures and easy links to chapters for the Book of Ecclesiastes. The pages may include song previews, background information, commentary, sermons, videos, and details of the Bible author.
 



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