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Ecclesiastes 12

 

Chapter Twelve

OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER

1) To consider what further counsel the Preacher offers to the young

2) To note what happens to the spirit when the body dies

3) To hear the Preacher's conclusion after his search for the meaning of
   life "under the sun"

SUMMARY

The final chapter begins with a continuation of advice directed to the
young.  They are told to remember God in their youth, before difficult
days come in which there will be found little pleasure.  Such days are
described through a series of illustrations that depict the feebleness
of old age and eventual death.  When the inevitable happens, the body
will decay back to dust, and the spirit will return to God who gave it
(1-7).

The Preacher brings his "sermon" to a close by restating his theme: 
"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."  An epilogue is added that informs
the reader of the work the Preacher continued to do after concluding his
search for the meaning of life.  Because of his wisdom, he still taught
the people and sought to set in order many proverbs.  He sought to find
acceptable and upright words, words of truth.  Such words of the wise
and scholarly are described as goads and well-driven nails, given by one
Shepherd.  One is to be admonished by these words, yet be aware that
there is no end to the making of many books, and much study is wearisome
to the flesh (8-12).

Finally, we are told the "grand conclusion" of the whole matter.  The
Preacher ends his search for meaning by concluding that the whole
purpose for man's existence is to fear God and keep His commandments. 
That is because God will bring into judgment everything we have done
(13-14).

OUTLINE

I. ADVICE TO THE YOUNG (12:1-7)

   A. REMEMBER GOD IN YOUR YOUTH (1-2)
      1. Before the difficult days come
      2. Before the years come in which you find little pleasure
      3. While the sun, moon, and stars are not darkened
      4. While the clouds do not return after the rain

   B. REFLECT UPON WHAT IS COMING (3-7)
      1. The day is coming in which:
         a. The keepers of the house tremble (the arms weaken)
         b. The strong men bow down (the legs become frail)
         c. The grinders cease because they are few (the teeth fall out)
         d. Those that look through the windows grow dim (the eyes lose
            their sight)
         e. The doors are shut in the streets (the ears become hard of
            hearing)
         f. The sound of the grinding is low (the mouth and speech
            become unintelligible)
         g. When one rises up at the sound of a bird (the elderly easily
            awakened)
         h. And all the daughters of music are brought low (the voice no
            longer able to sing)
         i. They are afraid of height (the fear of falling)
         j. And of terrors in the way (no longer feeling invincible)
         k. When the almond tree blossoms (the wakefulness of old age
            setting in)
         l. The grasshopper is a burden (an old man, bowed like the
            insect, able to move only with some difficulty)
         m. And desire fails (fleshly desires wane)
         n. Man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the
            streets (death)
      2. Remember your Creator before:
         a. Before the silver cord (the spinal cord) is loosed
         b. The golden bowl (the skull) is broken
         c. The pitcher (the heart) shattered at the fountain
         d. The wheel (the pelvis) broken at the well
         -- Figures alluding to decay of the body
      3. When finally:
         a. The body returns to the dust
         b. The spirit returns to God who gave it

II. EPILOGUE AND CONCLUSION (12:8-14)

   A. THE EPILOGUE (8-12)
      1. The grand theme restated:  "Vanity of vanities, all is
         vanity..."
      2. The Preacher's ongoing work (because he was wise)
         a. He continued to teach others
         b. He pondered and sought to find many proverbs, upright words
            of truth
      3. The value of such words of truth
         a. The words of the wise are like goads
         b. The words of the scholars are like well-driven nails
         -- Such truth comes from One Shepherd
      4. It is good to be admonished by such words
         a. Though there is no end to the making of many books
         b. Though much study is wearisome to the flesh

   B. THE GRAND CONCLUSION (13-14)  
      1. The conclusion of the whole matter
         a. Fear God and keep His commandments
         b. This is man's all (the whole duty of man)
      2. For God will bring every work into judgment
         a. Every secret thing
         b. Whether good or evil

REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER

1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Advice to the young (1-7)
   - Epilogue and conclusion (8-14)

2) What advice does the Preacher give to the young person? (1)
   - Remember God in the days of your youth
   - While things are going well, before the difficult days come

3) What thirteen illustrations are used to depict one growing old and
   feeble? (3-5)
   - The keepers of the house tremble (the arms weaken)
   - The strong men bow down (the legs become frail)
   - The grinders cease because they are few (the teeth fall out)
   - Those that look through the windows grow dim (the eyes lose their
     sight)
   - The doors are shut in the streets (the ears become hard of hearing)
   - The sound of the grinding is low (the mouth and speech become
     unintelligible)
   - When one rises up at the sound of a bird (the elderly easily
     awakened)
   - And all the daughters of music are brought low (the voice no longer
     able to sing)
   - They are afraid of height (the fear of falling)
   - And of terrors in the way (no longer feeling invincible)
   - When the almond tree blossoms (the wakefulness of old age setting
     in)
   - The grasshopper is a burden (an old man, bowed like the insect,
     able to move only with difficulty)
   - And desire fails (fleshly desires wane)

4) How is death depicted at the end of verse 5?
   - Man goes to his eternal home
   - Mourners to about the streets

5) What four illustrations are used to depict the decaying of the body?
   (6)
   - Before the silver cord (the spinal cord) is loosed
   - The golden bowl (the skull) is broken
   - The pitcher (the heart) shattered at the fountain
   - The wheel (the pelvis) broken at the well

6) What occurs at death as described in verse 7?
   - The dust returns to the earth as it was
   - The spirit returns to God who gave it

7) What is the recurring theme throughout this book, as restated in
   verse 8?
   - "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

8) What did the Preacher continue to do? (9-10)
   - He taught the people knowledge
   - He pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs
   - He sought to find acceptable and upright words, words of truth

9) What are the words of the wise and scholarly like? (11)
   - Goads and well-driven nails
   - Given by one Shepherd

10) What did the Preacher encourage his son? (12)
   - To be admonished by the words of wisdom and truth

11) Yet what two things should one keep in mind? (12)
   - There is no end to the making of many books
   - Much study is wearisome to the flesh

12) What does the Preacher offer as the conclusion to his search for
    meaning? (13)
   - Fear God and keep His commandments
   - This is the whole duty of man

13) Why is this his conclusion? (14)
   - For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret
     thing, wither good or evil

Ecclesiastes 12

Seek God in early life

[Ecc 12:1-14 NKJV] 1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them": 2 While the sun and the light, The moon and the stars, Are not darkened, And the clouds do not return after the rain; 3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, And the strong men bow down; When the grinders cease because they are few, And those that look through the windows grow dim; 4 When the doors are shut in the streets, And the sound of grinding is low; When one rises up at the sound of a bird, And all the daughters of music are brought low. 5 Also they are afraid of height, And of terrors in the way; When the almond tree blossoms, The grasshopper is a burden, And desire fails. For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets. 6 [Remember your Creator] before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. 7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8 "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "All [is] vanity."

The whole duty of man

9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out [and] set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and [what was] written [was] upright--words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books [there is] no end, and much study [is] wearisome to the flesh. 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

 

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