Advice to the Young (Part 2)
Eccl. 12: 1-8
We are now on the last chapter of this beautiful, highly informative book. This chapter is full of symbolism which for me makes this book more picturesque, challenging and interesting to read.
Actually, this advice is not only for the young but also for the old as well. This instruction is still very much applicable today even if this book was written 997 years before the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that we follow King Solomon’s advice under the inspiration of
the Holy Spirit as we grow old and experience physical inabilities and limitations.
I. Remember God in the days of thy youth (Eccl. 12:1-7)
A. Remember your Creator means to revere God, to keep His laws faithfully, to serve Him responsibly, remembering that because He created us, we owe Him our lives.
B. The word “remember” in Deut. 8:18 and Ps. 119:55 is parallel to keeping the Law, in Ps. 63:6 it is parallel to meditating on and faithfully following God.
C. Great men of God served Him from their youth.
1. Joseph, Samuel, David, Solomon, Josiah, and Daniel serve the Lord faithfully.
2. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is another example – Lk. 2:41-52
3. Timothy, the young preacher who had known the Scriptures from childhood, is also a good example. 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Tim. 4:12
D. Remember God according to Bible Exposition Commentary is Solomon’s version of Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
E. Remember God before you experience the miseries of old age.
1. Here Solomon wrote various pictures or illustration to depict the sorrow and hardships of old age.
a. Before the difficult days come. Physical powers diminish and death
b. Before the years come in which you find little pleasure. Physical pleasures will no longer be enjoyable.
c. While the sun, moon, and stars are not darkened. Old age is a period of
diminishing joy (light) and increasing gloom (dark), heralding the approach
of the long night of death. This obviously alludes to the earlier figurative use of light and darkness to depict life and death (11:7-8).
d. Nor the clouds do not return after the rain. As the cloud blocks the light of the sun when it rains. After the down pour you won’t see the same cloud again. Days that are gone can never be recovered again.
Illustration: Most Rewarding Time of Life
Old age can be a most rewarding period of life. For those who have found the satisfaction of a loving
and close relationship with the Heavenly Father through faith in His Son, the “sunset years” can be more appropriately labelled the “golden years.”
Henry Durbanville felt that way. In his book The Best Is Yet to Be he wrote, “I feel so sorry for folks who don’t like to grow old…I revel in my years. They enrich me…I would not exchange…the abiding rest of soul, the measure of wisdom I have gained from the sweet and bitter and perplexing
experiences of life; nor the confirmed faith I now have in the…love of God, for all the bright and uncertain hopes and tumultuous joys of youth. Indeed, I would not! These are the best years of my life…The way grows brighter; the birds sing sweeter; the winds blow softer; the sun shines more
radiantly than ever before. I suppose ‘my outward man’ is perishing, but ‘my inward an’ is being joyously renewed day by day.
Robertson McQuilkin wrote, “God planned the strength and beauty of youth to be physical. But the strength and beauty of age is spiritual. We gradually lose the strength and beauty that is temporary so we’ll be sure to concentrate on the strength and beauty that is forever.”
Our Daily Bread, December 16
II. Old age description (Eccl. 12:3-5)
A. Solomon give us one of the most imaginative descriptions of old age and death found anywhere in literature. We see here a picture of a house that is falling apart and finally turns to dust. A dwelling place is one biblical metaphor for the human body (Job 4:19; 2 Cor. 5:1-2 [a tent]; 2 Peter 1:13 [a tent]), and taking down a house or tent is a picture of death. The meaning may be:
1. Keepers of the house — Your arms and hands tremble and become weak.
2. Strong men — Your legs, knees, and shoulders weaken and you walk bent over.
3. Grinders cease — You start to lose your teeth.
4. Windows be darkened — Your vision begins to deteriorate. Dimness of vision.
5. Doors — Either your hearing starts to fail, or you close your mouth because you’ve lost your teeth.
6. Grinding is low — You can’t chew your food, or your ears can’t pick up the
7. Rise up at the voice of the bird — You wake up with the birds early each
morning, and wish you could sleep longer. Sleeplessness.
8. Music shall be brought low— Your voice starts to quaver and weaken.
9. Afraid of that which is high— You are terrified of heights and afraid of falling while you walk down the street.
10. Almond tree shall flourish — If you have any hair left, it turns white, like almond blossoms.
11. Grasshopper shall be a burden — You just drag yourself along, like a
grasshopper at the close of the summer season.
12. Desire shall fail— You lose your appetite, or perhaps your sexual desire.
13. Long home — You go to your eternal [long] home and people mourn your death.
III. A brief description of death
A. Verse 6 describes a golden bowl — a lamp — hanging from the ceiling on a silver chain. The chain breaks and the bowl breaks. The fragile “cord of life” is snapped and the light of life goes out. Only wealthy people could have such costly lamps, so Solomon may be hinting that death is no respecter of persons.
B. The second picture is of water being unavailable. The pitcher which holds the water is shattered, which can even have some physical parallel in death.
The wheel by which water is drawn is broken. This could refer to the heart pumping the blood through the body. It no longer works, it is broken, death occurs.
C. In the final picture of death Solomon goes back to creation. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. This is parallel to the creation of man account found in Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. The body returns to the earth from which it was made and the spirit, here the life of man, returns to God who gave it.
IV. All is vanity
A. To live to die and in between to find no satisfaction in life, to find no significance or meaning in life because we have no personal relationship with God is vanity. Its all emptiness, or no value at all.
B. The aged Solomon after he has done all the means to find meaning, significance, and real joy and peace in life under the sun using his own wisdom finally realized that he should have obeyed God all along and kept his close relationship with Him.
Illustration: Temporary Success
Temporary success may often crown the efforts of the godless, but even their greatest achievements cannot bring complete satisfaction. That was Solomon’s theme when he said, “…the expectation of the wicked shall perish.” If unrepentant sinners should view their most brilliant accomplishments in
the light of eternity, they would find them to be as lasting and as valuable as bursting bubbles. The 119th-century Bible scholar G. S. Bowes pointed out the ultimate futility of ambition that isn’t accompanied by dedication to God. Citing four powerful world rulers of the past, he wrote: “Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations. He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer, and he died at an early age in a state of debauchery. Hannibal, who filled three bushels with the gold rings taken from the knights he had slaughtered, committed suicide by swallowing poison. Few noted his passing, and he left this earth
completely unmourned. Julius Caesar, ‘staining his garments in the blood of one million of his foes,’ conquered 800 cities, only to be stabbed by his best friends at the scene of his greatest triumph.
Napoleon, the feared conqueror, after being the scourge of Europe, spent his last years, in banishment. No wonder Solomon warned of the poor prospects for anyone who strives to succeed without relying on God. – H.G.B.
Our Daily Bread, January 31
We must remember, obey, serve, revere, the Lord while we are young, even when we are old and death is near. He created us and we must give Christ our all. Repent from your sins now and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour before its too late