Scripture reading – Ecclesiastes 12, 1 Kings 10

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We conclude our study of the Book of Ecclesiastes by looking at the final chapter, Ecclesiastes 12. Remember, Solomon commenced this book by introducing himself as “the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1) and brings it to an end by embracing the same title, “the preacher” (Ecclesiastes 12:9, 10). Today’s Scripture reading also includes 1 Kings 10.

An Exhortation to Youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

Ecclesiastes 12:1 – “Remember now [Think of; Respect] thy Creator in the days [years] of thy youth, while the evil days [adversity; troubles] come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure [delight; desire] in them.”

Life patterns are set in one’s youth, when hearts are generally soft and pliable, and before sins and adversities have given rise to spiritual callousness. Solomon urged his son, “Remember,” think of, and meditate on your Creator when you are young. While you have your whole life before you, consider the ONE that made you in His likeness and formed you when you were in your mother’s womb (Genesis 1:27; 2:7-8). Remember your Creator before you face “evil days,” and troubles plague your life so you no longer desire to live (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Consider the Calamities of the Aged (Ecclesiastes 12:2-7)

Ecclesiastes 12:3-7 painted a depressing picture of old age with its physical ailments and frailties. Solomon described the coming of a season when a man’s days would be darkened (Ecclesiastes 12:2). Men who were once strong shake and “tremble” (Ecclesiastes 12:3a) and become stooped with old age. The picture Solomon painted was of an old man whose teeth (“grinders”) had failed and whose eyesight was dimmed (“windows be darkened”).

The king continued his gloomy description of old age and the loneliness of older people. Their lives slowly become like a village with shut doors (no one is coming or going). Whose streets are silent (Ecclesiastes 12:4a). The “grinding is low” (perhaps the grinding or milling of grain). If not for the “voice [or crowing] of the bird,” there would be no reason to awaken, for work has ceased (Ecclesiastes 12:4b). Sadly, where there was once the exuberance of daughters, there is silence instead (Ecclesiastes 12:4c).

Fear also becomes the haunt of an old soul apart from the LORD (Ecclesiastes 12:5a). One’s “desire” [perhaps a reference to appetite] fails (Ecclesiastes 12:5c). Mourners gather in expectation of death, for he “goeth to his long [future] home” (Ecclesiastes 12:5d). Some scholars suggest that Ecclesiastes 12:6 described the physical decline of the elderly, the failure of their circulatory system, and the imminence of death. Solomon wrote, “The wheel is broken at the cistern” (and is no more). So, the lifeless body returns to “dust,” and the “spirit [of the man] shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Genesis 3:17-19).

The Scriptures reveal that man’s physical body goes to the grave until the resurrection of the dead; however, the spirit is eternal. The Bible declares that the spirit of lost sinners will be judged and condemned to everlasting punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:11-15), but the spirit of the saved shall dwell in the presence of the LORD forever (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 3:20-21). It is true that apart from God, life is a vapor, and “all is vanity” (James 4:14; Ecclesiastes 12:8).

Did Solomon Repent in His Last Days? (Ecclesiastes 12:8-12)


In this closing chapter, Solomon again took up the mantle of the “preacher” and reminded the people, “All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 12:8). He “taught [instructed] the people knowledge…and set in order [set straight] many proverbs” (Ecclesiastes 12:8-9).

The king had strayed far from his longing for wisdom (1 Kings 11), but it seemed he returned to the LORD, for he was mindful He would give an account of his life. With urgency, the king studied and “sought to find out acceptable words…even words of truth” (Ecclesiastes 12:10). He comprehended “the words of the wise are as goads,” for they prick, and convict (Ecclesiastes 12:11).

What were the “goads” that were as “nails fastened by the masters” (Ecclesiastes 12:11)? They were the “words of truth” (Ecclesiastes 12:10), being God’s Laws and Commandments (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and were “given from One Shepherd,” Who was the LORD Himself (Ecclesiastes 12:11; Hebrews 13:20; John 10:3-4).


An Epilogue: “Fear God, and Keep His Commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Solomon concluded his ponderings and summoned the attention of all who would hear:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 – “Let us hear [Listen; obey; publish] the conclusion [end] of the whole matter [account; speaking]: Fear [Revere] God, and keep [observe] His commandments [Laws; Precepts]: for this is the whole duty[purpose] of man.
14  For God shall bring every work [act; deed] into judgment, with every secret thing [hidden; concealed], whether it be good [right], or whether it be evil [sin; wickedness].”

Closing thoughts –

When spiritual principles do not guide youth, they squander their lives on sinful indulgences that inevitably leave them as sorrow-laden souls. I exhort my youthful readers to enjoy their youth and remember their Creator but know “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

To parents and grandparents: Remember, fear, and revere your Creator. Conform your life to the likeness of Christ, and reflect in your attitudes and actions His Laws and Commandments.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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