Chapter 12

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1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:

3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,

4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;

5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

9 And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Commentary for Ecclesiastes 12

A description of the infirmities of age. (1-7) All is vanity: also a warning of the judgment to come. (8-14)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.

8-14 Solomon repeats his text, VANITY OF VANITIES, ALL IS VANITY. These are the words of one that could speak by dear-bought experience of the vanity of the world, which can do nothing to ease men of the burden of sin. As he considered the worth of souls, he gave good heed to what he spake and wrote; words of truth will always be acceptable words. The truths of God are as goads to such as are dull and draw back, and nails to such as are wandering and draw aside; means to establish the heart, that we may never sit loose to our duty, nor be taken from it. The Shepherd of Israel is the Giver of inspired wisdom. Teachers and guides all receive their communications from him. The title is applied in Scripture to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The prophets sought diligently, what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. To write many books was not suited to the shortness of human life, and would be weariness to the writer, and to the reader; and then was much more so to both than it is now. All things would be vanity and vexation, except they led to this conclusion, That to fear God, and keep his commandments, is the whole of man. The fear of God includes in it all the affections of the soul towards him, which are produced by the Holy Spirit. There may be terror where there is no love, nay, where there is hatred. But this is different from the gracious fear of God, as the feelings of an affectionate child. The fear of God, is often put for the whole of true religion in the heart, and includes its practical results in the life. Let us attend to the one thing needful, and now come to him as a merciful Saviour, who will soon come as an almighty Judge, when he will bring to light the things of darkness, and manifest the counsels of all hearts. Why does God record in his word, that ALL IS VANITY, but to keep us from deceiving ourselves to our ruin? He makes our duty to be our interest. May it be graven in all our hearts. Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is all that concerns man.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Ecclesiastes 12

  • Steve morrow
    ECCLESIASTES 12:10 the preacher sought to find out acceptable words and that which was written was upright even words of truth PROVERBS 22:20 HAVE NOT I WRITTEN TO THEE EXCELLENT THINGS IN COUNSELS AND KNOWLEDGE --22:21--that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth that thou mightiest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee
  • BSP
    Verse 13: In order to live we must have a reverential fear of Jehovah God and keep his commandments.
  • Mike
    This is the whole duty of man fear God and keep his commandments

    Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

    -Ecclesiastes 12:13
  • Steve morrow
  • BSP
    We should have a deep respect or fear of Jehovah God and keep his commandments. This is the whole obligation of humans.
  • A disciple
    In this wonderful Book called, The Preacher, is laid out very many aspects of this present existence, and how they are used knowingly or unknowingly to distract man who is made in the image of God from seeking out the eternal meaning of his having been created thus and in many cases, worse, uses them falsely to deny the very God and Saviour, who he is supposed to replicate in character, in conduct, in faith, hope and love in holiness and the Spirit of Truth. The powerful conclusion "of the whole matter," is what we must hear and receive and learn from Jesus to do, with all our hearts, and without hypocrisy. For if after all our lifetime is spent, and we have only our own basket of potatoes and carrots, but no honest accounting of our souls in light of Christ being sent to redeem us then will we have worked for nothing, and all our love, and hate, and envy, and toil, will be turned to smoke and ashes, and remembered no more we ourselves having never stood in the truth, will have no place, and never be fit for the presence of God in eternity. But the Word is written to us as to children, so that we may do them and be blessed. This is the will of God for all men that we might be saved, all thanks and glory and praise to our wonderful Father God, and the Son of God our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • Marimba
    'all mans duty is to serve GOD'
  • Irene123
    Oh Carol; that the Lord could reach the youth before they joined gangs, committed felonies, got DUI's, etc. Keep them lifted up in prayer ............

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Bible Trivia

What does the 'Preacher' of Ecclesiastes compare the words of the wise to?
  • Goads and nails
  • Flourishing gardens
  • Hammers and Anvils
  • Precious jewels