ON YOUTH AND AGING
Lord, I pray that I may be obedient to You through all the days of my life.
Read 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”—
2 before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
3 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;
4 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;
5 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.
6 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,
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.[a]
“Everything is meaningless!”
The Conclusion of the Matter
9 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. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd.[b] 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
13 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.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
a Ecclesiastes 12:8 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 9 and 10
b Ecclesiastes 12:11 Or Shepherd
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhen and where have you seen God at work in this past week?
Following Saturday’s encouragement to the young to enjoy themselves (11:9), the Teacher now advises young people not to forget about God. Many young people will say that religion is for old people, or that they will put off thinking about God until they’re old. The Teacher tells us to think about God now, before it is too late. Verses 1b–7 are an allegory of aging: describing the decaying of life.
In the final verse, the Teacher at last recognizes that God will judge every action. Having previously lamented that the same fate awaits every person, whatever they have done (3:20), his conclusion gives a different perspective. Now he sees that God’s ultimate judgment will separate good from evil: fearing God in this life does matter (13). At any time of life, it is sobering to remember that God will judge our actions. While we are saved entirely by grace, because of the death and resurrection of Christ, the New Testament continues to remind us that this does not mean we can continue to sin. Being saved by grace should rather motivate us to live a life that is pleasing to God (cf. Rom. 6:1–4).
Whether you are young or not so young, how is your walk with the Lord? Why not commit to making 2020 a year in which you “fear God and keep his commandments” (13)? What does that mean for you practically?
Lord, help me to be sensitive to Your promptings as I seek to live my life for You.