Navigating wisdom can be tricky. A lot of practical wisdom comes in simple, terse statements. Ancient wisdom can be challenging because of its time and cultural context. I addressed that a little in the first post of this study in Ecclesiastes.
In the comic movie about midlife crisis, Curly the toughened cowboy says the secret to life is "one thing". This last chapter of Ecclesiastes gives a final thought about life, kind of a one thing regarding the purpose of life.
Remember your Creator while you are young, before the days of trouble come and the years when you say, “I find no pleasure in them.” When you get old, the light from the sun, moon, and stars will grow dark; the rain clouds will never seem to go away. At that time your arms will shake and your legs will become weak. Your teeth will fall out so you cannot chew, and your eyes will not see clearly. [vss 1-3]
Your ears will be deaf to the noise in the streets, and you will barely hear the millstone grinding grain. You’ll wake up when a bird starts singing, but you will barely hear singing. You will fear high places and will be afraid to go for a walk. Your hair will become white like the flowers on an almond tree. You will limp along like a grasshopper when you walk. Your appetite will be gone. Then you will go to your everlasting home, and people will go to your funeral. [vss 4-5]
Soon your life will snap like a silver chain or break like a golden bowl. You will be like a broken pitcher at a spring, or a broken wheel at a well. You will turn back into the dust of the earth again, but your spirit will return to God who gave it. Everything is useless! The Teacher says that everything is useless. [vss 6-8]
The Teacher was very wise and taught the people what he knew. He very carefully thought about, studied, and set in order many wise teachings. The Teacher looked for just the right words to write what is dependable and true. [vss 9-10]
Words from wise people are like sharp sticks used to guide animals. They are like nails that have been driven in firmly. Altogether they are wise teachings that come from one Shepherd. So be careful, my son, about other teachings. People are always writing books, and too much study will make you tired. [vss 11-12]
Now, everything has been heard, so I give my final advice: Honor God and obey his commands, because this is all people must do. God will judge everything, even what is done in secret, the good and the evil. [vss 13-14]
(Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 NCV) [Context– Ecclesiastes 12]
Key phrase—Remember your Creator while you are young
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Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions
What are we encouraged to remember while we're young? Why?
How is the progression towards old age described? Which of these descriptive phrases stands out to you?
What is said about wise words and teaching? What are we cautioned about?
What is the final advice given, and what final thought underscores why this is important?
When we are very young, time seems to pass slowly. We can hardly wait to get older, to reach a certain stage in life. As we get older, time seems to speed up and we wonder, "where did the time go?"
When we're young we want to be older, and when we're older we often long to be young again. But time waits for no one. It carries us along whether or not we want to go.
This last chapter of Ecclesiastes sums up all of King Solomon's writings and wisdom. Time is short and here's what's important—remember your Creator while you're young, before life passes you by.
Here's another simple way to look at the ending. Don't over think things. Life is much more simple than you think. Honor God and do what is right, because in the end we will all answer to Him for our lives—even those who don't believe.
Make it personal...
Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions
Does it seem like time is passing you by? Are you concerned about the purpose of your life, or are you content?
Are you able to find ways to simplify your life? Can you see what tends to clutter up your life?
Do you spend time seeking wisdom from God? Are there wise and godly people in your life?
Do you make time each day to connect with God? Do you make room for Him in your life each day?