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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 12:14

For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - God Continued...;   Investigation;   Jesus, the Christ;   Judgment;   Secret;   Sin;   Works;   Thompson Chain Reference - Certainties;   Concealment-Exposure;   Decrepitude;   Exposure;   Long Life;   Old Age;   Seven;   Sin;   Uncertainties-Certainties;   The Topic Concordance - Judges;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Christ Is God;   Judgment, the;   Works, Good;  
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Eternal Life, Eternality, Everlasting Life;   Ethics;   Judgment, Day of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Judgment, Last;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, the Book of;   Law;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ecclesiastes, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;   Medicine;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Quotations;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Judgment the day of;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Alms;   Canon of the Old Testament;   Dead;   Eschatology of the Old Testament (with Apocryphal and Apocalyptic Writings);   Philosophy;   Young Men;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Alms;   Didascalia;   Judah I.;  
Every Day Light - Devotion for August 5;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Ecclesiastes 12:14. For God shall bring every work into judgment — This is the reason why we should "fear God and keep his commandments."

1. Because there will be a day of judgment.

2. Every soul of man shall stand at that bar.

3. God, the infinitely wise, the heart-searching God, will be judge.

4. He will bring to light every secret thing - all that has been done since the creation, by all men; whether forgotten or registered; whether done in secret or in public.

5. All the works of the godly, as well as all the works of the wicked, shall be judged in that day; the good which the godly strove to conceal, as well as the evil which the wicked endeavoured to hide.

This, then, will be the conclusion of the whole mortal story. And although in this world all is vanity; yet there, "vanities will be vain no more." Every thing, whether good or evil, will have its own proper stable, eternal result. O God! prepare the reader to give up his accounts with joy in that day! Amen.

Number of verses, 222.

Middle verse, Ecclesiastes 6:10.

Sections, 4.

The ARABIC subjoins this colophon: - "Praise be to God for ever and ever!"

"By the assistance of the Most High God this book of Ecclesiastes, which is vanity of vanities, written by Solomon the son of David who reigned over the children of Israel, is completed."

The SYRIAC has, "The end of the book of Koheleth."

There are others, but they are of no importance.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Final comments (12:9-14)

Those whom the writer taught were not only the sons of the rich who attended the wisdom schools, but also ordinary people around the city. His method of study was to consider all the wise teachings relevant to his subject, select the most suitable, then arrange them in a way that was interesting and helpful to his audience. However, he never twisted the truth to suit his own purposes (9-10). True wisdom teaching, such as that which the writer speaks of here, comes from God. It helps people on and sticks in their minds (11).
A final warning is necessary. Too much study can be harmful, especially if it goes beyond what is taught by the wisdom teachers (12). All people have a basic responsibility to fear God and obey his commandments. They are answerable to God for everything they do (13-14).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." A more positive statement of the Biblical doctrine of the Eternal Judgment is to be found nowhere else in the Old Testament. The fact of God's eventual judgment of the whole world is a cardinal principle of Christianity, one of the fundamentals (Hebrews 6:2). This announcement of it at the end of Solomon's book makes it a climax. It could very well have been that his conviction of this certainty was the very thing that finally brought him to his senses. Delitzsch agreed with this. "This certainty of the final judgment at last was that which finally brought Solomon out of the labyrinth of his skepticism."[52] It will also do the same thing for every honest and intelligent man who will contemplate it.

As Hendry wrote, "The resolution of the discord" (the making of all things right: the just assignment of rewards for the righteous and punishments for the wicked, which shall take place only in the world to come) - "All this shall await the time when faith will give place to sight and every hidden thing will be revealed; so we may say of these last words of Ecclesiastes, that they foreshadow the resurrection."[53]

"Solomon's conclusion is that true religion is the only way to true happiness."[54] Man may chase the rainbows in any direction that he chooses, but apart from the love and service of God, only the rottenness of a grave awaits him. The verdict of God's truth against any other way but the true one is `vanity of vanities.' Why should anyone doubt it and throw his life away in the pursuit of life's beckoning butterflies, all of which can only disappoint and destroy him?

For a more extensive discussion of The Judgment regarding (1) its place in the Bible, (2) the necessity for it, (3) the occasion of it, (4) its importance as a foundational doctrine of Jesus Christ, (5) the reasons for its being a day of terror and sorrow for "all the tribes of the earth,,' etc., see Vol. 10 (Hebrews) of our New Testament Commentaries, pp. 115,116.

Our study of this amazingly powerful chapter of God's Word would not be complete without a summary of the great doctrines of Christianity that are either expressly declared, necessarily implied, or both, in these verses. Here they are:

The Existence and Power of God

God is the Creator

God is the creator of Man

Immortality of the Soul

The Resurrection of the Dead

God is the Shepherd of Israel

The Existence of Moses' Law

God's Commands Available in that Law

That Law a Divine Revelation

Man's Accountability to God

The Eternal Judgment (Heaven and Hell)

Rewards and Punishments

It would be difficult indeed to find another chapter in the whole Bible with a more impressive constellation of stellar Christian doctrines than that which appears here. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Amen!

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

This passage is properly regarded as the Epilogue of the whole book; a kind of apology for the obscurity of many of its sayings. The passage serves therefore to make the book more intelligible and more acceptable.

Here, as in the beginning of the book Ecclesiastes 1:1-2, the Preacher speaks of himself Ecclesiastes 12:8-10 in the third person. He first repeats Ecclesiastes 12:8 the mournful, perplexing theme with which his musings began Ecclesiastes 1:2; and then states the encouraging practical conclusion Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 to which they have led him. It has been pointed out that the Epilogue assumes the identity of the Preacher with the writer of the Book of Proverbs.

Ecclesiastes 12:11

literally, Words of wise men are as goads, and as nails driven in (by) masters of assemblies; they are given from one shepherd: “goads,” because they rouse the hearer and impel him to right actions; “nails” (perhaps tent-spikes), because they remain fixed in the memory: “masters of assemblies” are simply “teachers” or “preachers” (see Ecclesiastes 1:1 note), instructors of such assemblies as Wisdom addresses Proverbs 1:20.

One shepherd - i. e., God, who is the supreme Giver of wisdom Proverbs 2:6, and the chief Shepherd Jeremiah 23:1-4. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:12-13.

Ecclesiastes 12:12

By these - i. e., “By the words of wise men.”

Books - Rather, “Writings.” Probably the proverbs current in the Preacher’s age, including, though not especially indicating, his own.

The Preacher protests against the folly of protracted, unprofitable, meditation.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

literally, “The conclusion of the discourse” (or “word,” = words, Ecclesiastes 1:1), “the whole, let us hear.”

The whole duty of man - Rather, the whole man. To revere God and to obey Him is the whole man, constitutes man’s whole being; that only is conceded to Man; all other things, as this book teaches again and again, are dependent on a Higher Incomprehensible Being.

Ecclesiastes 12:14

Judgment with - Rather, judgment (which shall be held) upon etc.: i. e., an appointed judgment which shall take place in another world, as distinct from that retribution which frequently follows man’s actions in the course of this world, and which is too imperfect (compare Ecclesiastes 2:15; Ecclesiastes 4:1; Ecclesiastes 7:15; Ecclesiastes 9:2, ...) to be described by these expressions. He that is fully convinced that there is no solid happiness to be found in this world, and that there is a world to come wherein God will adjudge people to happiness or misery respectively, as they have made their choice and acted here, must necessarily subscribe to the truth of Solomon’s conclusion, that true religion is the only way to true happiness.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 12

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth ( Ecclesiastes 12:1 ),

It is interesting that most conversions are made during the teenage years. Seven-eighths of every decision for Jesus Christ is made while in your teenage years. That's why it's an important injunction, "Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth."

while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them ( Ecclesiastes 12:1 );

Don't wait until you get old to serve the Lord, to give your life to Jesus Christ. Commit your life while you're young, before those evil days come and you say, "Oh man, life has no more pleasure." And so we have now an interesting sort of graphic description of the aged person.

While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain ( Ecclesiastes 12:2 ):

As you get older you start putting stronger light bulbs in the socket. My first awareness of my need for glasses is when the light wasn't bright enough and I had to get a brighter light in order to read. And somehow the lights go dimmer as you get older. The muscles of your eyes don't contract as they should in the adjustment of the pupil and all. And so you need more light in order to read. So remember. You see, I'm in the other end of the stick now when the years draw nigh.

In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble ( Ecclesiastes 12:3 ),

That's when you begin to get the palsied shakes of the old age; your knees and your legs begin to shake. You walk sort of shakily. It's hard to have a smooth script as you're writing, you know, you can. "Keepers of the house are trembling."

and the strong men shall bow themselves ( Ecclesiastes 12:3 ),

You begin to hunch over your back. The grinders are your teeth.

and the grinders cease because they are few ( Ecclesiastes 12:3 ),

Of course, in those days they didn't have the spare sets.

and those that look out of the windows be darkened ( Ecclesiastes 12:3 ),

Again, the reference to the eyes, the windows of your body, the eye, and you begin to become blind.

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 music shall be brought low ( Ecclesiastes 12:4 );

Your hearing gets bad, and the singing, "Yeah, what?" It's a great life to look forward to, isn't it? You start waking up early in the morning, the first song of the bird. You don't sleep so long anymore. You don't need so much sleep.

And when they shall be afraid of that which is high ( Ecclesiastes 12:5 ),

You start getting these fears.

and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper will be a burden ( Ecclesiastes 12:5 ),

Oh, there's a grasshopper, what shall I do?

I was visiting a while back in one of the retirement homes, one of our members, and as I was going to leave, as I got to the elevator, I was on the seventeenth floor, and when I got to the elevator this little old lady came running up to me. She says, "Help, help, help!" And I said, "What's the matter, Ma'am?" And she said, "There's a man; he came right into my room. I didn't invite him; he came right into my room. And he's still there in my room and I can't get him out." And I said, "Well, I'll get him out for you, Ma'am, you know." She was a little old lady so I figured it must be a little old man, you know. I could have handled that. So I went back to her room with her and we went into her room and here I was ready to assume my authority and order the guy out. What are you doing in this room uninvited? And looked around I said, "Well, Ma'am, I don't see anybody here." She said, "Well, he came flying right in that window there. And he landed right there in the sink. And was just staring at me for a while, you know."

Even a grasshopper can become a burden. Or a fly.

your desire shall fail: because man goes to his long home, and the mourners will be in the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; all is vanity ( Ecclesiastes 12:5-8 ).

You've come to the end of the road, man. This is it. The mourners are out in the street. The pitcher's been broken at the fountain. It's all over. And what is life? Vanity, vanity. Your body is gone back to dust. Spirit's gone back to God who gave it. And it was just one vast emptiness.

That's life apart from God. And if you live apart from God, you will experience the same thing. You can't escape it. There is no real meaning in life apart from God, apart from serving God. There is nothing worthwhile. Vanity, vanity, all is emptiness.

And moreover, because the [assembler] Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The [assembler or] Preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even the words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of the assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making of many books there is no end; and much study is weariness of the flesh ( Ecclesiastes 12:9-12 ).

I used to have that in my room when I was in school.

Now let's hear the conclusion of the whole matter ( Ecclesiastes 12:13 ):

This is it.

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 is good, or whether it is evil ( Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ).

This is it. The best way to live is just to fear God, keep His commandments. Because one day God is going to bring every work into judgment, even the secret things whether good or evil.

Shall we stand.

I pray that the Lord will give you a closer walk with Him. That you begin to understand life from the divine perspective. That you'll experience much more than the emptiness of life after the flesh under the sun but will begin to experience the rich fulfillment of life in the Son after the Spirit. And so may God lead you by His Spirit into that full, rich life that He wants you to know and to experience in Jesus Christ. And may you begin to experience that which Jesus said was life more abundantly that He had come to bring to you. So may the hand of the Lord be upon your life this week. And may you walk with Him in love. In Jesus' name. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

B. The Concluding Summary 12:8-14

In conclusion, Solomon repeated his original thesis (Ecclesiastes 12:8; cf. Ecclesiastes 1:2) and his counsel in view of life’s realities (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). In between these statements, he set forth his source of authority for writing what we have in Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 12:9-12).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Solomon’s concluding statement reiterated what he said earlier (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; Ecclesiastes 7:15-18; Ecclesiastes 11:9-10; Ecclesiastes 12:1) and elsewhere (Proverbs 1:7; cf. Job 28:28). Trust and obedience are what everyone owes God-in view of future judgment.

"Though a future judgment after death is indeed the solution to the enigma Solomon had observed in the unequal distribution of justice in human history (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:15; Ecclesiastes 8:14), no evidence suggests that Solomon believed in [i.e., was aware of] such a judgment. Life after death was as enigmatic to him (cf. Ecclesiastes 11:8) as the unequal distribution of justice. His emphasis was on this life (’under the sun’) and its opportunities for service (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:10; Ecclesiastes 12:1-7) and enjoyment (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:24-26; Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 3:22; Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; Ecclesiastes 8:15; Ecclesiastes 9:7-9; Ecclesiastes 11:7-10); he thought life after death offered no such opportunities (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:5-6; Ecclesiastes 9:10). Therefore he did not comment on any differences after death between the righteous and the wicked, the wise and the fools, man and beast." [Note: Glenn, pp. 1006-7.]

With the greater light of revelation that we enjoy, it is even more important for us to follow Solomon’s counsel. We should be content to leave the enigmas of life in God’s hands. We should also follow Solomon’s wise counsel to enjoy life, as God enables us to do so, and to serve God acceptably while we can. [Note: See Greg W. Parsons, "Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming the Book of Ecclesiastes," Bibliotheca Sacra 160:638 (April-June 2003):159-73; 160:639 (July-September 2003):283-304..]

"What is the ’profit’ of living? What does a man get for all his work? He gets the living God! And his whole profit consists of fearing Him and obeying His Word." [Note: Kaiser, Ecclesiastes . . ., p. 125.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For God shall bring every work into judgment,.... Not in this life, but in the day of the great judgment, as the Targum explains it; that is, whatever has been done by men, from the beginning of the world, or will be to the end; all being observed and taken notice of by the omniscient God, who has registered them in the book of his remembrance, and, being Judge, will be able to bring them all into account at that awful day: which is here given as a reason why men should fear God, and keep his commandments;

with every secret thing; that has been committed in secret by men, and is unknown to others, even every secret thought of the heart; see 1 Corinthians 4:5; or, "with every secret" or "hidden man" w; whose works are hidden from men, and are not known to be what, they are, and who thought to hide themselves from, God; but these, with their works, shall be brought into open court in judgment;

whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil: it shall then be examined according to the rule of the word, and be judged, and declared to be what it truly is, good or evil; and so be either rewarded in a way of grace, or punished: or, "whether [the man, the hidden man, be] good or evil" x, so Alshech; all mankind, everyone, will he bring into judgment, whether he be good or evil. This is the last end of all things, and in which every man will be concerned. This shows, as well as many other things in this book. Solomon's belief of a future state and judgment; and that there is nothing in it to encourage the epicure and atheist: which being observed by the ancient Jews, they readily admitted it into the canon of Scripture.

w על כל נעלם "super omnem occultum, sc. hominem", Schmidt. x "Sive bonus fuerit, sive malus", Schmidt.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Conclusion of the Whole.

      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.

      The great enquiry which Solomon prosecutes in this book is, What is that good which the sons of men should do?Ecclesiastes 2:3; Ecclesiastes 2:3. What is the true way to true happiness, the certain means to attain our great end? He had in vain sought it among those things which most men are eager in pursuit of, but here, at length, he has found it, by the help of that discovery which God anciently made to man (Job 28:28), that serious godliness is the only way to true happiness: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, the return entered upon the writ of enquiry, the result of this diligent search; you shall have all I have been driving at in two words. He does not say, Do you hear it, but Let us hear it; for preachers must themselves be hearers of that word which they preach to others, must hear it as from God; those are teachers by the halves who teach others and not themselves, Romans 2:21. Every word of God is pure and precious, but some words are worthy of more special remark, as this; the Masorites begin it with a capital letter, as that Deuteronomy 6:4. Solomon himself puts a nota bene before it, demanding attention in these words, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Observe here,

      I. The summary of religion. Setting aside all matters of doubtful disputation, to be religious is to fear God and keep his commandments. 1. The root of religion is fear of God reigning in the heart, and a reverence of his majesty, a deference to his authority, and a dread of his wrath. Fear God, that is, worship God, give him the honour due to his name, in all the instances of true devotion, inward and outward. See Revelation 14:7. 2. The rule of religion is the law of God revealed in the scriptures. Our fear towards God must be taught by his commandments (Isaiah 29:13), and those we must keep and carefully observe. Wherever the fear of God is uppermost in the heart, there will be a respect to all his commandments and care to keep them. In vain do we pretend to fear God if we do not make conscience of our duty to him.

      II. The vast importance of it: This is the whole of man; it is all his business and all his blessedness; our whole duty is summed up in this and our whole comfort is bound up in this. It is the concern of every man, and ought to be his chief and continual care; it is the common concern of all men, of their whole time. It is nothing to a man whether he be rich or poor, high or low, but it is the main matter, it is all in all to a man, to fear God and do as he bids him.

      III. A powerful inducement to this, Ecclesiastes 12:14; Ecclesiastes 12:14. We shall see of what vast consequence it is to us that we be religious if we consider the account we must every one of us shortly give of himself to God; thence he argued against a voluptuous and vicious life (Ecclesiastes 11:9; Ecclesiastes 11:9), and here for a religious life: God shall bring every work into judgment. Note, 1. There is a judgment to come, in which every man's eternal state will be finally determined. 2. God himself will be the Judge, God-man will, not only because he has a right to judge, but because he is perfectly fit for it, infinitely wise and just. 3. Every work will then be brought into judgment, will be enquired into and called over again. It will be a day to bring to remembrance every thing done in the body. 4. The great thing to be then judged of concerning every work is whether it be good or evil, conformable to the will of God or a violation of it. 5. Even secret things, both good and evil, will be brought to light, and brought to account, in the judgment of the great day (Romans 2:16); there is no good work, no bad work, hid, but shall then be made manifest. 6. In consideration of the judgment to come, and the strictness of that judgment, it highly concerns us now to be very strict in our walking with God, that we may give up our account with joy.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:14". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.