Ecclesiastes 12


‘Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’—before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when people rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; when people are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags itself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then people go to their eternal home and mourners go about the streets. Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’ Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Solomon’s first piece of advice for life is, that we learn faster while we are young. Solomon may have been thinking of Rehoboam his son who at this time would need all the wisdom and knowledge he could attain to become the next king. Solomon may be thinking of the mistakes he made when he was a young man.

Youth tend to disregard what their parents tell them, Colossians 3:20 / Ephesians 6:1, and as a result, they may go to make many foolish mistakes.

It’s the responsibility of all parents to instil in their children God and His ways from a very young age, by doing so, although it’s no guarantee, the children can look back at their lives when they are older, and see the wisdom in godly living, or if they never become Christians or they fall away, they will have something good to come back to, Proverbs 22:6.

Children need to cultivate worship now so their relationship with God will be close. Rough days are ahead, but anyone who seeks the Lord when they are younger will be better prepared to deal with problems. These troubled days are the days when we get older, 2 Samuel 19:33-35.

Everyone knows that when we get older, we simply can’t do the things we used to do when we were younger, our bodies get frailer, and we end up with all kinds of aches and pains, which is far from being enjoyable. The ‘clouds’ are our minds are not as sharp as they once were, the ‘rain’ are those things we cry from our past.

The things we always wanted to do, can’t get done because of our age and the older we get, the more we begin to think about death, The days will come for most of us, when the body will be limited in what it can do. It will no longer care for the pleasures it had when it was young. The ‘keepers of the house’ are the hands which will tremble. The legs will begin to bow as they do not have the strength to support the body.

The ‘grinders’ are the teeth which become fewer as we get older. The ‘almond tree’, refers to our hair which gets grey in old age. The reference to the ‘grasshopper’ is a reference to small things becoming a burden for us to bear.

The ‘windows’ are the eyes which become dimmer with age. We are told that the ‘doors will be shut’, these are the lips which must be shut to keep food from dropping out of the mouth. The grinding sounds from eating food will not be as loud as before. The least noise will disturb the sleep. The voice will become feeble.

Then there is the fear of height, we consider climbing to be dangerous. We’re afraid to leave our house as we don’t feel safe on the outside. Dust and spirit will return to their original place.

The ‘silver cord’ is cut and the golden bowl, which is life is broken. Life is the pitcher by which water is taken from the fountain and it’s the wheel by which water is lifted from the cistern. No one’s body is designed to last forever, when we get older our bodies begin to break down and we will all return to the dust, Genesis 2:7.

Although the young don’t often think about getting old or dying, Solomon says when we get old, we realise that life in and of itself is meaningless, life is very short and can become very fragile.

The Conclusion Of The Matter

‘Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.’ Ecclesiastes 12:9-12

The word ‘Ecclesiastes’ is a Greek word which can be translated as ‘teacher.’ The man, who had been so wise, yet became so foolish proceeds to teach us about life. In the third chapter, he seems to say that life contains some pleasant things while there are also parts of life that are very unpleasant. We must learn to live in a world of changes. We must learn to adjust to the unexpected.

The conditions of our lives are all different at different stages of our lives. Our lives crisscross each other. He gives us a lengthy list of the many things that are in constant flux. Nature pursues all kinds of situations but we are not confronting the same things at the same time. ‘There is a time for everything,’ Ecclesiastes 3.

The pendulum swings back and forth, from good to bad until finally, its cycle is complete. It does this in each succeeding generation. These are out of our control. We can find comfort and happiness only by accepting what God sends always trusting fully no matter what comes. God will not give us more than we can bear. He will give us the strength to bear everything that comes our way.

The preacher says multiple things will come into our lives. He lists about 26 natural events and emotions we will experience along life’s pathway, Ecclesiastes 3:2-8. We will experience all of the above during our lifetime. Let God’s word lead and guide us.

After all his experiences Solomon ends his book on what brings man the ultimate pleasure, the one thing men should seek after. He has tried them all but all had failed. What man needs the most is entirely different from what man has considered the ultimate satisfaction to be.

This is Solomon’s personal conclusion to the purpose of life, and his wisdom is to share what he had personally learned from his own life so that we can learn from it, Romans 15:4 / 1 Corinthians 10:11 / 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Solomon didn’t make these things up, what he wrote were words of truth, that is under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:19-21.

Just as a goad spurs on the ox and nails penetrate the wood for construction, so the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, Hebrews 4:12, it can spur on one and build one up, Acts 20:32, and it can encourage, Hebrews 10:24-25. The word ‘shepherd’ is a reference to God who is the source of all wisdom.

Libraries and gift shops are filled with books which are intended to help us understand life, sadly many people will turn to any other book except the Bible.

As God is the source of real wisdom and wisdom comes from Him, James 1:5-8, if people don’t go to the Source for wisdom to understand the meaning of life, that too would be meaningless. Therefore, people won’t find any meaning in life because they don’t know what God’s will is, Romans 12:1-2.

‘Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.’ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Solomon finishes his advice by offering this concluding admonition. It’s clear that he himself didn’t live all the time by God’s will and so he writes from experience. He knew that if God isn’t a part of our life, then our lives would be meaningless.

Solomon also, although he may not have fully understood it, that God will be the Judge, 2 Corinthians 5:10, this is why obedience is so important and why it’s important to fear Him and obey His commands, Matthew 6:33.

It took Solomon a lifetime to discover the supreme purpose of life. To a young person, this might not sound as exciting as other adventures one might follow. But Solomon says he had tried everything that appeals to man.

He tried everything that he thought would bring him supreme satisfaction, happiness and pleasure. But in the end, he found that letting our minds dwell on the Lord and His commandments was the most important thing we can do. After all the things he had experimented with, a relationship with God was the most satisfying.


The way we have lived will follow us to the final day of judgment when we shall give an account of how we have lived before God and our relationship with him, Hebrews 9:27 / Acts 17:30-31. God then will render His perfect judgment as to the final state we will live in.

Too many people wait until it’s too late in life to make any changes. They have left God out of their daily lives failing in the most important thing, their relationship with God.

‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.’ John 10:10


"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."