Ecclesiastes 12:1 MEANING

Ecclesiastes 12:1

(1) Creator.--This occurs as a Divine name in Isaiah 40:23; Isaiah 44:15. and elsewhere. Here it is in the plural, like the Divine name Elohim. (See also Note on Ecclesiastes 12:8.) We have "thy Maker" in the plural in Job 35:10; Psalm 149:2; Isaiah 54:5; and "Holy One" in Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 30:3; Hosea 11:12.

Verse 1. - The division into chapters is unfortunate here, as this verse is closely connected with ver. 10 of the preceding chapter. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Set God always before thine eyes from thy earliest days; think who made thee, and what thou wast made for, not for self-pleasing only, not to gratify thy passions which now are strong; but that thou mightest use thy powers and energy in accordance with the laws of thy being as a creature of God's hands, responsible to him for the use of the faculties and capacities with which he has endowed thee. The word for "Creator" is the participle of the Verb barn, which is that used in Genesis 1:1, etc., describing God's work. It is plural in form, like Elohim, the plural being that of majesty or excellence (comp. Job 35:10: Isaiah 54:5). It is used here as an appellation of God, because the young have to bethink themselves that all they are and all they have come from God. Such plurals are supposed by some to be divinely intended to adumbrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity - a dark saying containing a mystery which future revelation shoed explain. "He that made thee" is a common phrase in Ecclesiasticus (Ecclesiastes 4:6; 7:30; 39:5). It is to be noted that Gratz reads "cistern" or a fountain" in place of "Creator," and explains this term to mean "wife, as in Proverbs 5:15-18. But the alteration has nothing to support it, and is most unnecessary, though Cheyne was inclined to adopt it ('Job and Solomon,' in loc.). While the evil days come not; i.e. before they come. "Days of evil; αἱ ἡμέραι τῆς κακίας (Σεπτυγαιντ) (Matthew 6:4); tempus afflictionis (Vulgate). The phrase refers to the grievances and inconveniences of old age, which are further and graphically described in the following verses, though whether the expressions therein used regard literal anatomical facts, or are allegorical representations of the gradual decay of the faculties, has been greatly disputed. Probably both opinions contain a partial truth, as will be noted in our Exposition. Ginsburg considers that the allusion is not to the ills that in the course of time all flesh is heir to, but rather to that premature decay and suffering occasioned by the unrestrained gratification of sensual passions, such as Cicero intimates ('De Senect.,' 9:29), "Libidinosa et intemperans adulescentia effetum corpus tradit senectuti." There is nothing specially in the text to support this view, and it is most reasonable to see here generally a figurative description of decay, whatever may be the cause. I have no pleasure in them. Ere the time comes when a man shall say, "I have no pleasure in life." Thus the aged Barzillai asks," Can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat, or what I drink? Can I hear any more the voice of singing-men and singing-women?" (2 Samuel 19:35).

12:1-7 We should remember our sins against our Creator, repent, and seek forgiveness. We should remember our duties, and set about them, looking to him for grace and strength. This should be done early, while the body is strong, and the spirits active. When a man has the pain of reviewing a misspent life, his not having given up sin and worldly vanities till he is forced to say, I have no pleasure in them, renders his sincerity very questionable. Then follows a figurative description of old age and its infirmities, which has some difficulties; but the meaning is plain, to show how uncomfortable, generally, the days of old age are. As the four verses, 2-5, are a figurative description of the infirmities that usually accompany old age, ver. 6 notices the circumstances which take place in the hour of death. If sin had not entered into the world, these infirmities would not have been known. Surely then the aged should reflect on the evil of sin.Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,.... Or "Creators" (b); as "Makers", Job 35:10; for more than one were concerned, as in the creation of all things in general, so of man in particular, Genesis 1:26; and these are neither more nor fewer than three; and are Father, Son, Spirit; the one God that has created men, Malachi 2:10; the Father, who is the God of all flesh, and the Father of spirits; the former both of the bodies and souls of men, Jeremiah 31:27; the Son, by whom all things are created; for he that is the Redeemer and husband of his church, which are characters and relations peculiar to the Son, is the Creator, Isaiah 43:1; and the Holy Spirit not only garnished the heavens, and moved upon the face of the waters, but is the Maker of men, and gives them life, Job 33:4. Now this God, Creator, should be "remembered" by young men; they should remember there is a God, which they are apt to be forgetful of; that this God is a God of great and glorious perfections, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, holy, just, and true; who judgeth in the earth, and will judge the world in righteousness, and them also; and that he is in Christ a God gracious, merciful, and pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin: they should remember him under this character, as a "Creator", who has made them, and not they themselves; that they are made by him out of the dust of the earth, and must return to it; that he has brought them into being, and preserved them in it, and favoured them with the blessings of his providence, which are all from him that has made them: and they should remember the end for which they are made, to glorify him; and in what state man was originally made, upright, pure, and holy; but that he now is a fallen creature, and such are they, impure and unrighteous, impotent and weak, abominable in the sight of God, unworthy to live, and unfit to die; being transgressors of the laws of their Creator, which is deserving of death: they should remember what God their Creators, Father, Son, and Spirit, must have done or must do for them, if ever they are saved; the Father must have chosen them in Christ unto salvation; must have given his Son to redeem, and must send his Spirit into their hearts to create them anew; the Son must have been surety for them, assumed their nature, and died in their room and stead; and the Spirit must regenerate and make them new creatures, enlighten their minds, quicken their souls, and sanctify their hearts: they should remember the right their Creator has over them, the obligations they are under to him, and their duty to him; they should remember, with thankfulness, the favours they have received from him, and, with reverence and humility, the distance between him, as Creator, and them as creatures: they should remember to love him cordially and sincerely; to fear him with a godly fear; to worship him in a spiritual manner; to set him always before them, and never forget him. And all this they should do "in the days their youth"; which are their best and choicest day in which to serve him is most desirable by him, acceptable to him; who ordered the first of the ripe fruits and creatures of the first year to be offered to him: and then are men best able to serve him, when their bodies are healthful, strong, and vigorous; their senses quick, and the powers and faculties of their souls capable of being improved and enlarged: and to delay the service of him to old age, as it would be very ungrateful and exceeding improper, so no man can be sure of arriving to it; and if he should, yet what follows is enough to determine against such a delay;

while the evil days come not; meaning the days of old age; said to be evil, not with respect to the evil of fault or sin; so all days are evil, or sin is committed in every age, in infancy, in childhood, in youth, in manhood, as well as in old age: but with respect to the evil of affliction and trouble which attend it, as various diseases; yea, that itself is a disease, and an incurable one; much weakness of body, decay of intellects, and many other things, which render life very troublesome and uncomfortable (c), as well as unfit for religious services;

nor the years draw nigh, when thou shall say, I have no pleasure in them; that is, corporeal pleasure; no sensual pleasure; sight, taste, and hearing, being lost, or in a great measure gone; which was Barzillai's case, at eighty years of age: though some ancient persons have their senses quick and vigorous, and scarce perceive any difference between youth and age; but such instances are not common: and there are also some things that ancient persons take pleasure in, as in fields and gardens, and the culture of them, as Cicero (d) observes; and particularly learned men take as much delight in their studies in old age as in youth, and in instructing others; and, as the same writer (e) says,

"what is more pleasant than to see an old man, attended and encircled with youth, at their studies under him?''

and especially a good man, in old age, has pleasure in reflecting on a life spent in the ways, work, and worship of God; and in having had, through the grace of God, his conversation in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity; as also in present communion with God, and in the hopes and views of the glories of another world: but if not religious persons, they are strangers to spiritual pleasure, which only is to be had in wisdom's ways; such can neither look back with pleasure on a life spent in sin; nor forward with pleasure, at death and eternity, and into another world; see 2 Samuel 19:35.

(b) "Creatorum tuorum", Drusius, Gejerus, Rambachius; so Broughton. (c) Plautus in Aulular. Acts 1. Sc. 1. v. 4. Menaechm. Acts 5. Sc. 2. v. 6. calls old age, "mala aetas"; and the winter of old age, Trinummus, Acts 2. Sc. 3. v. 7. And Pindar, , Pyth. Ode 10. so Theognis, v. 272, 776, 1006. And Homer, Iliad. 10. v. 79. &. 23. v. 644. "Tristis senectus", Virgil. Aenid. 6. (d) De Seuectute, c. 14, 15. (e) Ibid. c. 8.

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