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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Ecclesiastes 12

 

 


Verses 8-14

Closing Remarks: Glorification - The Preacher makes his closing remarks by restating his theme that all is vanity ( Ecclesiastes 12:8). He accepts his divine duty to continue to teach the people on this topic ( Ecclesiastes 12:9-12). In the final two verses ( Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) he summarizes the solution to life's vanities with the commandment to fear God because He will judge us in the next life. Within the context of the third responsive theme of Ecclesiastes , we fear Him and keep His commandments by resting in Him as He divinely orchestrates our lives and moves us into His divine seasons. These divine seasons are our destiny, so that we fear God and keep His commandments by fulfilling our divine destinies.

I once heard vanity described this way: a man is born, goes to school, gets a Job , finds a wife, raises a family, retires, then he dies. His children do the same. A man works hard all of his life to reach each new phase of life, but for what purpose? Life is vain without a divine purpose. The answer to this dilemma of life's vanities is found in the closing verses of this book, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." ( Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Repetition of Opening Statement — Ecclesiastes 12:8-12

2. Final Conclusion — Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Ecclesiastes 12:8-12 — Repetition of Opening Statement - In Ecclesiastes 12:8 the Preacher repeats his opening statement recorded in Ecclesiastes 1:2-4. This time he adds the comment that his words will teach and guide the people through this life of vanity ( Ecclesiastes 12:9-12).

Ecclesiastes 12:8 Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 12:8Comments- The Preacher opened his book with the statement, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." After taking the entire book to support this statement, he ends his case by making the same statement in Ecclesiastes 12:8, "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity."

Ecclesiastes 12:9 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.

Ecclesiastes 12:10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-10Comments- Evidence that Solomon Sought Wisdom Outside of Israel- Scholars consider Proverbs 22:16 thru Proverbs 24:34 to be collections of sayings that Solomon collected from other sources, and are called "the sayings of the wise." In fact, some of the proverbs in this passage are similar to an Egyptian writing entitled "The Instruction of Amenemope," written about 1200 to 1300 B.C. 32] It is possible that an additional author can be given to this passage. The fact that King Solomon sought out other sources of wisdom literature is confirmed in Ecclesiastes 12:9-10, "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. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth."

32] Miriam Lichtheim, The Instruction of Amenemope, in Ancient Egyptian literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973- 80]), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

The phrase, "the words of the wise," is also used herein the context of King Solomon"s quest for wisdom. Note Ecclesiastes 12:11, "The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd."

Ecclesiastes 12:11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

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

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 — Conclusion- We see the primary and secondary themes reflected in the concluding verses of Ecclesiastes. Its primary theme is how to serve the Lord with all of our strength. We do this by keeping Hs commandments. The secondary theme is to fear the Lord; for this is the necessary ingredient of the heart that motivates us to serve Him instead of ourselves.

For the king, as well as the labourer, life does not consist in the abundance of one"s possessions or accomplishments. In the end, each man"s life will be measured on Judgment Day by amount of fear and obedience that he showed towards God. All of the pursuits that the Preacher described in the early chapters of this sermon are vanity compared to a man"s eternal destiny. The Preacher knows that every man will give an account of his life to God ( Ecclesiastes 3:15; Ecclesiastes 3:17).

Ecclesiastes 3:15, "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past."

Ecclesiastes 3:17, "I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work."

Ecclesiastes 12:13 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 — "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter" - Comments- Or, in light of the journey found in the book of Ecclesiastes to find rest, we may paraphrase Ecclesiastes 12:13 to read, "Let us understand the secret to finding rest for our souls."

Ecclesiastes 12:13 — "and keep His commandments" - Comments- Note how Jesus explained that all of the commandments could be summed up into two commandments ( Matthew 22:36-40).

Matthew 22:36-40, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Ecclesiastes 12:13Comments- We may say that the Preacher's conclusion to fear God and keep His commandments sounds too simplistic and vague for such a pursuit of the meaning of life. But the secret to rest is found in our daily walk with the Lord, not in our grand accomplishments. God designed our journey to be one of daily dependence upon Him for direction and guidance rather than Him giving us a clearly laid out plan to follow from the beginning of our lives. He designed our lives this way to that we would learn to have fellowship with Him on a regular basis. Thus, we must seek Him daily to find a fresh word from Him for each day in order to fulfill our earthly duties.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:14Comments- If we do not follow God's leadership in our lives, and rather, opt to pursue some great earthly achievement, we will find our works being judged one day before His throne. Paul explains this verse well in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, how every man's works shall be judged.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man"s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man"s work of what sort it is. If any man"s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man"s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/ecclesiastes-12.html. 2013.

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Monday, November 30th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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