The End of the Matter (12:1-14)

Bible Passage: Ecclesiastes 12:1-14

Ecclesiastes is a bleak book that looks at life under the sun through a cynical lens. The teacher is attempting to find meaning in life, but when considering things from a purely earthly vantage point he finds everything comes up short and is futile. As the book draws to a close the teacher reflects on some of the lessons that he has learned and tries to draw some conclusions from it.

Find God When You Are Young: We only have a limited amount of time on the earth, and if everything that the teacher tried proved pointless, then it is a waste of the precious life that we have to give it to those things. God is the only meaning in life, and so in verse 1 the teacher urges the reader to remember him when they are young. The verses that follow (2-8) are a vivid and poetic description of getting old and dying, but the point the teacher is making is that if we leave until late in life to turn to God we miss the chance to enjoy him for most of our lives. It is better to turn to him whilst we still have strength and opportunities of youth to find satisfaction in relationship with him.

Look First to God’s Wisdom: Verses 9-12 speak about the pursuit of knowledge. The teacher has sought after as much wisdom and information as he can find, and has concluded there is a weariness to it. There always more books to read and more to write, and knowledge in itself does not always bring meaning and satisfaction. He urges the reader to prioritise the best knowledge, and points to the sayings given by ‘one shepherd’, a reference to God. Looking to the words of God as the primary source for wisdom is the way to find meaning and purpose in life.

Fear God: The final conclusion that the teacher draws is that we are to fear God and keep his commandments. Fear should not be misunderstood as intimidation but is more like reverence. Having a high view of God and treating him with reverential awe, and being careful to build our lives on what he has said is the answer to the meaning that the teacher has been searching for throughout Ecclesiastes.

Potential Applications:

  • Whatever age people are, this is a great moment to challenge them to remember their creator. They will; never be younger than they are now, so there is no better time to get right with God.
  • Invite people to take seriously God’s word. Perhaps you can suggest reading habits and Bible reading plans to help people get stuck into the Bible.
  • Call people to live lives that are obedient to God. Often we can give lip-service to God but our lives show a lack of true reverence. Call people back to holy fear and obedience of him.