“Just as the setting sun signals the end of a day, so aging signals the approach of the close of one’s life” Wm. Barrick.
Ecclesiastes chapter 12
Verses 1, 2, 6 include the word “before,” referencing a series of events leading up to ones impending death. We should view verses 1-7 as one complete sentence (one complete thought) a description of aging as death approaches.
In conversations regarding death it is natural to consider one’s Creator. This has been the case throughout Ecclesiastes. God has made everything appropriate in its time (3:11); Consider the work of God (7:13-14); God made man upright (7:29); The activity of God who makes all things (11:5).
v1 Remember – reflect, embrace, acknowledge – shape your perspective. Creator – a remainder that we are created beings (John 1:1-3; Genesis 1:1-2:3)
Before dark days come – times of misery, trouble. These stand in contrast to the days of our youth.
V2 Gathering storm – approaching of death
V3 Watchmen – male servants whose job it was to protect the household. Strongmen – free men or neighboring household. Grinders – female servants whose job it was to grind grain. Those peering out window – free women trying to avoid public eye in times of grieving
V4 Description of a strickened household or village. Doors (plural) – would be a reference to a city gate. (Houses of that day only had one door)
V5 Afraid of heights, danger in the streets – fears of the aging or elderly. Almond blossom – reminds one of human hair that has turned white
Death (12:6, 7)
V6,7 Golden bowl – thought to be a lamp of oil
Silver cord – a means of hanging the lamp
Cutting the cord would shatter lamp (signifies death)
Pitcher – holds life-giving water (the water of life can no longer be drawn)
Wheel – could this be a pulley system used to lower the pitcher into a well
Spirit returns to God – hints of a continued existence after death.
Chuck Swindoll offers the following insight on verses 1-7.
- I must face the fact that I’m not getting any younger
- God has designed me to be empty without Him
- Now is the time to prepare for eternity
Most commentators are of the opinion that the epilogue was written by someone other than Solomon. Jewish tradition holds the epilogue was written by one of King Hezekiah’s men. Wm Barrick stresses that Solomon could have indeed written the epilogue also.
v8 A refrain – a reoccurring theme of Ecclesiastes, Vanity, All is vanity (a vapor)
V9 pondered – weighed points for careful evaluation
Searched out – thoroughness, diligence
Set in order – ordered his thoughts in a skillful manner
V11 One Shepherd – God
V13,14 The emphasis is on God and commandments; the secondary emphasis is on fear and obey. “A knowledge of God leads to obedience not vice versa” (Eaton)
The whole duty – our essence – the essence of mankind to fear God and obey him.
Ecclesiastes asks the question, “What advantage [or profit] does man have in all his work he does under the sun?” David Estes suggests this answer; “the advantage resides not in human achievement apart from God, but rather in human connection with God.”
- Remember God, the Creator (Eccl 12:1)
- Fear God, the Creator (Eccl 3:14; 5:7; 8:12; 12:14)
- Enjoy the life God gives (Eccl 9:7-10)
- Prepare for leaving life “under the sun” (Eccl 12:1)
- Prepare to stand before God in a future judgment (Eccl 11:9)
How does one remember our Creator?
- Notice God’s handiwork all around us at every opportunity
- Thank God continually for all the blessings he gives
- Obey His commands