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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 12

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verse 1

ECCLESIASTES

CHAPTER 12

ADVICE TO THE YOUNG

NOTE: In Ecclesiastes Solomon’s advice to youth is found in Ecclesiastes 11:9-10; Ecclesiastes 12:1-7. A study of the first three of this nine verse section suggests:

1) That Solomon recognized that children had a spiritual need; and that it was important to address that need early in their life, before the evil days come, or the youthful period passes, Ecclesiastes 12:1; Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Matthew 19:14; Matthew 18:6; Ephesians 6:4.

2) That it was practicable for the young to know the joy of a right relationship with the LORD, Ecclesiastes 11:9; 1 Samuel 2:26; Matthew 18:6; 2 Timothy 3:15.

3) That such young are susceptible to sin which will diminish their joy, Ecclesiastes 11:9 b; and that such should be put away by acknowledgment and forsaking, Ecclesiastes 11:10; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9.

4) That all young, except the mentally incompetent, soon become accountable to God and will one day be brought to judgment, Ecclesiastes 3:17; Ecclesiastes 11:9; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Hebrews 9:27; Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:12.

Verse 2

THE INCREASING FRAILTY OF MAN

Verses 2-7 present a series of illustrations which portray the progressive frailty of the youth who becomes man; emphasizing the importance of remembering the creator in the time of youth before problems of advancing age hinder.

FADING HOPES AND INCREASING SORROWS

Verse 2 illustrates the fading hopes and repeated sorrows, accompanying advancing age, by the darkness that obscures the light of sun, moon or stars, and the dark clouds that repeatedly obscure the sky.

Verses 3-5

PHYSICAL DETERIORATION

Verse 3 pictures the deteriorating impact of advancing age upon the arms (keepers of the house), the legs (strong men, Psalms 147:10), the teeth (grinders) and the eyes (windows).

Verse 4 suggests that the aged are hindered by decreased access (shut doors), impaired hearing (sound seems low), erratic sleeping habits, (rise with bird) and voice problems that prevent singing with vigor as in earlier days.

Verse 5 pictures the increasing problems of the aged. He is afraid of heights and fearful of accidents if he walks. His hair Is like the flower of the almond tree, that. blossoms in winter, turns snowy white and falls to the ground. The slightest weight is a burden. The desire for food fails, and is not affected by appetite stimulants. The result of this deterioration is explained; death comes, man goes to a new home, and mourners accompany the body to a grave. The man is said to go to "his long home, emphasizing that it is eternal and irreversible. Life beyond death, is not dealt with here, but is recognized in Ecclesiastes 3:21; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Proverbs 14:32; Proverbs 11:7; and clearly affirmed in Luke 23:43; Luke 16:22-31; 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Verse 6

DEATH PICTURED

Verse 6 pictures the act of dying, with two images to be visualized:

First, a golden bowl is attached to a silver chain, picturing life as of great value. When the chain is loosed, the bowl falls and is broken, or is stolen, symbolizing death and the end of that which is valuable.

Second, a pitcher is lowered into a well by a rope around a pulley wheel. The wheel breaks and the pitcher falls Into the well, smashing the pitcher, and ending that which was capable of great usefulness.

Verse 7

WHAT HAPPENS AT DEATH

Verse 7 repeats the teaching of Ecclesiastes 3:21, that at death the body returns to dust, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Future details are not given here but are recognized in Proverbs 14:32; Proverbs 11:7 and clearly affirmed in Luke 23:43; Luke 16:22-31; 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Verse 8

SOLOMON’S CONCLUSION INTRODUCED

Verse 8 Introduces Solomon’s conclusion by repeating once again, his oft repeated declaration, that all (under the sun) Is vanity, a word used 37 times in Ecclesiastes. He proceeds then to state his objectives and conclusion.

Verses 9-12

SOLOMON’S OBJECTIVES IN ECCLESIASTES

Verse 9 affirms that Solomon taught the people, as he did in Ecclesiastes, because he was wise and considered it a duty to share his wisdom with the people. He taught them knowledge which begins with "fear" of the LORD, a reverential trust in the Lord that prompts love for and obedience to Him. Knowledge - thus includes reverence, understanding and wisdom, not just an accumulation of facts, Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10. The order stated in verse 9 Indicates that Solomon gave careful thought to the need of man, searched for that which was suitable, then arranged it in the order that would best accomplish his purpose.

Verse 10 affirms further that the Preacher sought words that were "pleasing" and "upright", and also words of "truth", 2 Corinthians 4:2; Proverbs 8:7; Proverbs 22:21.

Verse 11 assesses the value of the words of the wise. They are as goads, (sharp sticks used to prod oxen) in that they prompt people to act. They are like nails, in that they serve to fasten or firmly establish teaching in the mind. Verse 11 also acknowledges the inspiration by the words of Ecclesiastes. They are from "one shepherd", God above, though delivered by Solomon, Psalms 80:1; 2 Peter 1:21.

Verse 12 further emphasizes the inspired words from "one shepherd", by warning against the many profit-less books that are not from the one Divine source, Isaiah 19:11-16; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Timothy 6:20.

Verses 13-14

CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER

Verse 13 sums up the teaching of the book of Ecclesiastes. Nothing one may do in life is as important as to fear God, as a submissive reverence for God, which prompts trust in and obedience to His commands. Such is the duty of every man, Psalms 31:19; Psalms 103:13; Psalms 147:11; Proverbs 29:25; Isaiah 50:10; Romans 10:17.

Verse 14 reminds of the earlier teaching of Ecclesiastes 3:17; Ecclesiastes 11:9 that every act will be brought to judgment, and emphasizes, that every secret thing will be reviewed, Psalms 90:8; Leviticus 4:13-14; 1 Corinthians 4:5. The fact of such judgment applies to all, though the Bible teaches elsewhere that saved and unsaved will be judged, at different times Romans 14:10; Revelation 20:11-12.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ecclesiastes-12.html. 1985.
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