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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Ecclesiastes 12:4

and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Birds;   Old Age;   Readings, Select;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Birds;   Children;   Deafness;   Deafness-Hearing;   Decrepitude;   Home;   Insomnia;   Long Life;   Old Age;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Religion;   Sleep-Wakefulness;   Sleeplessness;   Stories for Children;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Birds;  
Dictionaries:
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Destroy, Destruction;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Allegory;   Bird;   Daughter;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bird;   Daughter;   Mill;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Aging;   Israel, History of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ecclesiastes;   Medicine;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Mill-Stone ;   Millstone ;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Daughter;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Allegory;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Allegory;   Daughter;   Dead;   Hosea;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Age, Old;   Allegory in the Old Testament;   Anatomy;   Ekah (Lamentations) Rabbati;   Flour;   Ḳohelet (Ecclesiastes) Rabbah;   Prey, Birds of;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for August 10;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Ecclesiastes 12:4. And the doors shall be shut in the streets

5. The doors - the lips, which are the doors by which the mouth is closed.

6. Be shut in the streets — The cavities of the cheeks and jaws, through which the food may be said to travel before it is fitted by mastication or chewing to go down the aesophagus into the stomach. The doors or lips are shut to hinder the food in chewing from dropping out; as the teeth, which prevented that before, are now lost.

7. The sound of the grinding is low — Little noise is now made in eating, because the teeth are either lost, or become so infirm as not to suffer their being pressed close together; and the mouth being kept shut to hinder the food from dropping out, the sound in eating is scarcely heard. The teeth are divided into three kinds: -

1) The dentes incisores, or cutting teeth, in the front of the jaw.

2) The dentes canini, or dog teeth, those in the sides of the jaws, for gnawing, or tearing and separating hard or tough substances. And,

3) Dentes molares, or grinding teeth, the posterior or double teeth, in both jaws, generally termed the grinders; because their office is to grind down the substances that have been cut by the fore teeth, separated into their parts or fibres by the dog teeth, and thus prepare it for digestion in the stomach.

8. He shall rise up at the voice of the bird — His sleep is not sound as it used to be; he slumbers rather than sleeps; and the crowing of the cock awakes him. And so much difficulty does he find to respire while in bed, that he is glad of the dawn to rise up and get some relief. The chirping ot the sparrow is sufficient to awake him.

9. All the daughters of music shall be brought low — The VOICE, that wonderful instrument, almost endless in the strength and variety of its tones, becomes feeble and squeaking, and merriment and pleasure are no more. The tones emitted are all of the querulous or mournful kind.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ecclesiastes-12.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


Advice to young people (11:9-12:8)

God’s will is that people enjoy life. In fact, they have a responsibility to do so. The writer urges young people especially to take note of this and not to misuse their mental or physical powers through developing wrong attitudes to life. However, their enjoyment of life must be according to a proper understanding of God and his character. They, like all others, are answerable to him for their behaviour (9-10).
Young people should remember that God is the Creator, the giver of life and all that goes with it. They should accept life from his hand and enjoy it as he intended. The opportunity will have passed by the time old age comes (12:1).
The writer pictures old age as a run-down house in a cold dark winter. The old person, now at the end of his life, is shaky, bent, half blind, half deaf, unable to sleep well, fearful of heights and afraid to walk along the street. He has lost all desire for life’s pleasures (2-5). Finally, death overtakes him. He is (to use another picture) like a broken bowl or a smashed water jar. God who first gave him life now takes it back. Life has run its course and has led, in the end, to nothing (6-8).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ecclesiastes-12.html. 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And the doors ... is low - The house is viewed from without. The way of entry and exit is stopped: little or no sound issues forth to tell of life stirring within. The old man, as he grows older, has less in common with the rising generation; mutual interest and social contact decline. Some take the doors and the sound of the mill as figures of the lips and ears and of the speech.

He shall rise ... - Here the metaphor of the house passes out of sight. The verb may either be taken impersonally ( “they shall rise,” compare the next verse): or as definitely referring to an old man, who as the master of the house rises out of sleep at the first sound in the morning.

All the daughters of musick - i. e., Singing women Ecclesiastes 2:8.

Be brought low - i. e., Sound faintly in the ears of old age.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ecclesiastes-12.html. 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 12:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ecclesiastes-12.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

2. Responsible living 12:1-7

This pericope expands the ideas Solomon introduced in Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, by focusing on advancing old age and death. [Note: See Barry C. Davis, "Ecclesiastes 12:1-8-Death, an Impetus for Life," Bibliotheca Sacra 148:591 (July-September 1991):298-318.] These ideas are the ultimate frustration and the epitome of impermanence that we can experience.

The basic imperative 12:1

Again, Solomon began with a clear statement of his point, and then proceeded to prove and illustrate its truth in the verses that follow. "Remember" means to live your life with what you know about God clearly in view, not just to remember that there is a God (cf. Ecclesiastes 11:9-10; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Deuteronomy 8:18; Psalms 119:55). "Creator" connotes God as the One to whom we are responsible because we are His creatures (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:7; Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19). The "evil days" are the days of old age and death (cf. Ecclesiastes 11:10; Ecclesiastes 12:2-5). [Note: For a study of Qoheleth’s view of youth and old age, see James L. Crenshaw, "Youth and Old Age in Qoheleth," Hebrew Annual Review 10 (1986):1-12.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-12.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The coming of old age 12:2-5

Ecclesiastes 12:2-7 are full of figures of speech that picture old age and death. [Note: See G. A. Barton, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes, pp. 186-91; Harry Torcszyner, "The Riddle in the Bible," Hebrew Union College Annual 1 (1924):125-49; Michael Leahy, "The Meaning of Ecclesiastes 12:1-5," Irish Theological Quarterly 19 (1952):297-300, reprinted in Zuck, ed., Reflecting with . . ., pp. 375-79; and Michael V. Fox, "Aging and Death in Qoheleth 12," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 42 (1988):55-77, reprinted in Zuck, ed., Reflecting with . . ., pp. 381-99.] Some interpreters believed the writer was describing the aging process, [Note: E.g., Creshaw, "Youth and . . ."; Eaton; et al.] and others believed death is the emphasis. [Note: E.g., Hubbard, Ogden, et al.] Perhaps old age leading to death is the best option.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-12.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

"The doors to the street" are probably the lips that are shut because of the absence of teeth in the mouth, "the grinding mill." Another view is that they are the ears. [Note: Longman, p. 271.] The writer alluded to the inability of old people to sleep soundly, as well as to their loss of hearing.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ecclesiastes-12.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the doors shall be shut in the streets,.... The Midrash and Jarchi interpret these of the holes of the body; in which they are followed by our learned and ingenuous countryman, Dr. Smith; who, by them, understands the inlets and outlets of the body; and, by the "streets", the ways and passages through which the food goes, and nourishment is conveyed; and which may be said to be shut, when they cease from their use: but it seems much better, with Aben Ezra and others, to interpret them of the lips; which are sometimes called the doors of the mouth, or lips, Psalms 141:3; which are opened both for speaking and eating; but, in aged persons, are much shut as to either; they do not choose to speak much, because of the disagreeableness of their voice, and difficulty of speech, through the shortness of breath, and the loss of teeth; nor do they open them much to eat, through want of appetite; and while eating, are obliged, for want of teeth, to keep their lips close, to retain their food from falling out; they mumble with their lips both in speaking and eating; and, particularly in public, aged persons care not to speak nor eat, for the reason following: though some understand it, more literally, of their having the doors of their houses shut, and keeping within, and not caring to go abroad in the streets, because of their infirmities so the Targum,

"thy feet shall be bound from going in the streets;''

when the sound of the grinding is low; which the above Jewish writers, and, after them, Dr. Smith, understand of the stomach, grinding, digesting, and concocting food, and of other parts through which it is conveyed, and the offices they perform; but sound or voice does not seem so well to agree with that; rather therefore this is to be understood, as before, of the grinding of the teeth, through the loss of which so much noise is not heard in eating as in young men, and the voice in speaking is lower; the Targum is,

"appetite of food shall depart from thee;''

and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird; that is, the aged person, the least noise awakes him out of sleep; and as he generally goes to bed soon, he rises early at cock crowing, or with the lark, as soon as the voice of that bird or any other, is heard; particularly the cock, which crows very early, and whose voice is heard the most early, and is by some writers f emphatically called the bird that calls men to their work;

and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; either those that make music, and are the instruments of it, as the lungs, the throat, the teeth, mouth, and lips, so the Targum and Midrash; or those that receive music, as the ears, and the several parts of them, the cavities of them, particularly the tympanum and auditory nerve; all which, through old age, are impaired, and become very unfit to be employed in making music, or in attending to it: the voice of singing men and singing women could not be heard with pleasure by old Barzillai,

2 Samuel 19:36. These clauses are expressive of the weakness which generally old age brings on men; very few instances are there to the contrary; such as of Caleb, who, at eighty five years of age, was as strong as at forty; and of Moses, whose natural force abated not at an hundred and twenty; nor indeed as of Cyrus, who, when seventy years of age, and near his death, could not perceive that he was weaker then than in his youth g.

f "Inque suum miseros excitat ales opus", Ovid. Amorum, l. 1. Eleg. 6. v. 66. "Cristatus ales", ib. Fast. l. 1. v. 455. g Cicero in Catone Majore, sive de Senectute, c. 8.

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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 12:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ecclesiastes-12.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Infirmities of Old Age; The Effects of Death.

      1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;   2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:   3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,   4 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;   5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:   6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.   7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

      Here is, I. A call to young people to think of God, and mind their duty to him, when they are young: Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. This is, 1. The royal preacher's application of his sermon concerning the vanity of the world and every thing in it. "You that are young flatter yourselves with expectations of great things from it, but believe those that have tried it; it yields no solid satisfaction to a soul; therefore, that you may not be deceived by this vanity, nor too much disturbed by it, remember your Creator, and so guard yourselves against the mischiefs that arise from the vanity of the creature." 2. It is the royal physician's antidote against the particular diseases of youth, the love of mirth, and the indulgence of sensual pleasures, the vanity which childhood and youth are subject to; to prevent and cure this, remember thy Creator. Here is, (1.) A great duty pressed upon us, to remember God as our creator, not only to remember that God is our Creator, that he made us and not we ourselves, and is therefore our rightful Lord and owner, but we must engage ourselves to him with the considerations which his being our Creator lay us under, and pay him the honour and duty which we owe him as our Creator. Remember thy Creators; the word is plural, as it is Job 35:10, Where is God my Makers? For God said, Let us make man, us, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. (2.) The proper season for this duty--in the days of thy youth, the days of thy choice (so some), thy choice days, thy choosing days. "Begin in the beginning of thy days to remember him from whom thou hadst thy being, and go on according to that good beginning. Call him to mind when thou art young, and keep him in mind throughout all the days of thy youth, and never forget him. Guard thus against the temptations of youth, and thus improve the advantages of it."

      II. A reason to enforce this command: While the evil days come not, and the years of which thou shalt say I have no pleasure in them.

      1. Do it quickly, (1.) "Before sickness and death come. Do it while thou livest, for it will be too late to do it when death has removed thee from this state of trial and probation to that of recompence and retribution." The days of sickness and death are the days of evil, terrible to nature, evil days indeed to those that have forgotten their Creator. These evil days will come sooner or later; as yet they come not, for God is long-suffering to us-ward, and gives us space to repent; the continuing of life is but the deferring of death, and, while life is continued and death deferred, it concerns us to prepare, and get the property of death altered, that we may die comfortably. (2.) Before old age comes, which, if death prevent not, will come, and they will be years of which we shall say, We have no pleasure in them,--when we shall not relish the delights of sense, as Barzillai (2 Samuel 19:35), --when we shall be loaded with bodily infirmities, old and blind, or old and lame,--when we shall be taken off from our usefulness, and our strength shall be labour and sorrow,--when we shall either have parted with our relations, and all our old friends, or be afflicted in them and see them weary of us,--when we shall feel ourselves die by inches. These years draw nigh, when all that comes will be vanity, the remaining months all months of vanity, and there will be no pleasure but in the reflection of a good life on earth and the expectation of a better life in heaven.

      2. These two arguments he enlarges upon in the following verses, only inverting the order, and shows,

      (1.) How many are the calamities of old age, and that if we should live to be old, our days will be such as we shall have no pleasure in, which is a good reason why we should return to God, and make our peace with him, in the days of our youth, and not put it off till we come to be old; for it will be no thanks to us to leave the pleasures of sin when they have left us, nor to return to God when need forces us. It is the greatest absurdity and ingratitude imaginable to give the cream and flower of our days to the devil, and reserve the bran, and refuse, and dregs of them for God; this is offering the torn, and the lame, and the sick for sacrifice; and, besides, old age being thus clogged with infirmities, it is the greatest folly imaginable to put off that needful work till then, which requires the best of our strength, when our faculties are in their prime, and especially to make the work more difficult by a longer continuance in sin, and, laying up treasures of guilt in the conscience, to add to the burdens of age and make them much heavier. If the calamities of age will be such as are here represented, we shall have need of something to support and comfort us then, and nothing will be more effectual to do that than the testimony of our consciences for us that we begin betimes to remember our Creator and have not since laid aside the remembrance of him. How can we expect God should help us when we are old, if we will not serve him when we are young? See Psalms 71:17; Psalms 71:18.

      [1.] The decays and infirmities of old age are here elegantly described in figurative expressions, which have some difficulty in them to us now, who are not acquainted with the common phrases and metaphors used in Solomon's age and language; but the general scope is plain--to show how uncomfortable, generally, the days of old age are. First, Then the sun and the light of it, the moon and the stars, and the light which they borrow from it, will be darkened. They look dim to old people, in consequence of the decay of their sight; their countenance is clouded, and the beauty and lustre of it are eclipsed; their intellectual powers and faculties, which are as lights in the soul, are weakened; their understanding and memory fail them, and their apprehension is not so quick nor their fancy so lively as it has been; the days of their mirth are over (light is often put for joy and prosperity) and they have not the pleasure either of the converse of the day or the repose of the night, for both the sun and the moon are darkened to them. Secondly, Then the clouds return after the rain; as, when the weather is disposed to wet, no sooner has one cloud blown over than another succeeds it, so it is with old people, when they have got free from one pain or ailment, they are seized with another, so that their distempers are like a continual dropping in a very rainy day. The end of one trouble is, in this world, but the beginning of another, and deep calls unto deep. Old people are often afflicted with defluxions of rheum, like soaking rain, after which still more clouds return, feeding the humour, so that it is continually grievous, and therein the body, as it were, melts away. Thirdly, Then the keepers of the house tremble. The head, which is as the watch-tower, shakes, and the arms and hands, which are ready for the preservation of the body, shake too, and grow feeble, upon every sudden approach and attack of danger. That vigour of the animal spirits which used to be exerted for self-defence fails and cannot do its office; old people are easily dispirited and discouraged. Fourthly, Then the strong men shall bow themselves; the legs and thighs, which used to support the body, and bear its weight, bend, and cannot serve for travelling as they have done, but are soon tired. Old men that have been in their time strong men become weak and stoop for age,Zechariah 8:4. God takes no pleasure in the legs of a man (Psalms 147:10), for their strength will soon fail; but in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength; he has everlasting arms. Fifthly, Then the grinders cease because they are few; the teeth, with which we grind our meat and prepare it for concoction, cease to do their part, because they are few. They are rotted and broken, and perhaps have been drawn because they ached. Some old people have lost all their teeth, and others have but few left; and this infirmity is the more considerable because the meat, not being well chewed, for want of teeth, is not well digested, which has as much influence as any thing upon the other decays of age. Sixthly, Those that look out of the windows are darkened; the eyes wax dim, as Isaac's (Genesis 27:1), and Ahijah's, 1 Kings 14:4. Moses was a rare instance of one who, when 120 years old, had good eye-sight, but ordinarily the sight decays in old people as soon as any thing, and it is a mercy to them that art helps nature with spectacles. We have need to improve our sight well while we have it, because the light of the eyes may be gone before the light of life. Seventhly, The doors are shut in the streets. Old people keep within doors, and care not for going abroad to entertainments. The lips, the doors of the mouth, are shut in eating, because the teeth are gone and the sound of the grinding with them is low, so that they have not that command of their meat in their mouths which they used to have; they cannot digest their meat, and therefore little grist is brought to the mill. Eightly, Old people rise up at the voice of the bird. They have no sound sleep as young people have, but a little thing disturbs them, even the chirping of a bird; they cannot rest for coughing, and therefore rise up at cock-crowing, as soon as any body is stirring; or they are apt to be jealous, and timorous, and full of care, which breaks their sleep and makes them rise early; or they are apt to be superstitious, and rise up as in a fright, at those voices of birds, as of ravens, or screech-owls, which soothsayers call ominous. Ninthly, With them all the daughters of music are brought low. They have neither voice nor ear, can neither sing themselves nor take any pleasure, as Solomon had done in the days of his youth, in singing men, and singing women, and musical instruments,Ecclesiastes 2:8; Ecclesiastes 2:8. Old people grow hard of hearing, and unapt to distinguish sounds and voices. Tenthly, They are afraid of that which is high, afraid to go to the top of any high place, either because, for want of breath, they cannot reach it, or, their heads being giddy or their legs failing them, they dare not venture to it, or they frighten themselves with fancying that that which is high will fall upon them. Fear is in the way; they can neither ride nor walk with their former boldness, but are afraid of every thing that lies in their way, lest it throw them down. Eleventhly, The almond-tree flourishes. The old man's hair has grown white, so that his head looks like an almond-tree in the blossom. The almond-tree blossoms before any other tree, and therefore fitly shows what haste old age makes in seizing upon men; it prevents their expectations and comes faster upon them than they thought of. Gray hairs are here and there upon them, and they perceive it not. Twelfthly, The grasshopper is a burden and desire fails. Old men can bear nothing; the lightest thing sits heavily upon them, both on their bodies and on their minds, a little thing sinks and breaks them. Perhaps the grasshopper was some food that was looked upon to be very light of digestion (John Baptist's meat was locusts), but even that lies heavily upon an old man's stomach, and therefore desire fails, he has no appetite to his meat, neither shall he regard the desire of woman, as that king, Daniel 11:37. Old men become mindless and listless, and the pleasures of sense are to them tasteless and sapless.

      [2.] It is probable that Solomon wrote this when he was himself old, and could speak feelingly of the infirmities of age, which perhaps grew the faster upon him for the indulgence he had given himself in sensual pleasures. Some old people bear up better than others under the decays of age, but, more or less, the days of old age are and will be evil days and of little pleasure. Great care therefore should be taken to pay respect and honour to old people, that they may have something to balance these grievances and nothing may be done to add to them. And all this, put together, makes up a good reason why we should remember our Creator in the days of our youth, that he may remember us with favour when these evil days come, and his comforts may delight our souls when the delights of sense are in a manner worn off.

      (2.) He shows how great a change death will make with us, which will be either the prevention or the period of the miseries of old age. Nothing else will keep them off, nor any thing else cure them. "Therefore remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, because death is certainly before thee, perhaps it is very near thee, and it is a serious thing to die, and thou shouldst feel concerned with the utmost care and diligence to prepare for it." [1.] Death will fix us in an unchangeable state: Man shall then go to his long home, and all these infirmities and decays of age are harbingers of and advances towards that awful remove. At death man goes from this world and all the employments and enjoyments of it. He has gone for good and all, as to his present state. He has gone home, for here he was a stranger and pilgrim; both soul and body go to the place whence they came, Ecclesiastes 12:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7. He has gone to his rest, to the place where he is to fix. He has gone to his home, to the house of his world (so some), for this world is not his. He has gone to his long home, for the days of his lying in the grave will be many. He has gone to his house of eternity, not only to his house whence he shall never return to this world, but to the house where he must be for ever. This should make us willing to die, that, at death, we must go home; and why should we not long to go to our Father's house? And this should quicken us to get ready to die, that we must then go to our long home, to an everlasting habitation. [2.] Death will be an occasion of sorrow to our friends that love us. When man goes to his long home the mourners go about the streets--the real mourners, and those, as now with us, distinguished by their habits as they go along the streets,--the mourners for ceremony, that were hired to weep for the dead, both to express and to excite the real mourning. When we die we not only remove to a melancholy house before us, but we leave a melancholy house behind us. Tears are a tribute due to the dead, and this, among other circumstances, makes it a serious thing to die. But in vain do we go to the house of mourning, and see the mourners go about the streets, if it do not help to make us serious and pious mourners in the closet. [3.] Death will dissolve the frame of nature and take down the earthly house of this tabernacle, which is elegantly described, Ecclesiastes 12:6; Ecclesiastes 12:6. Then shall the silver cord, by which soul and body were wonderfully fastened together, be loosed, that sacred knot untied, and those old friends be forced to part; then shall the golden bowl, which held the waters of life for us, be broken; then shall the pitcher with which we used to fetch up water, for the constant support of life and the repair of its decays, be broken, even at the fountain, so that it can fetch up no more; and the wheel (all those organs that serve for the collecting and distributing of nourishment) shall be broken, and disabled to do their office any more. The body shall become like a watch when the spring is broken, the motion of all the wheels is stopped and they all stand still; the machine is taken to pieces; the heart beats no more, nor does the blood circulate. Some apply this to the ornaments and utensils of life; rich people must, at death, leave behind them their clothing and furniture of silver and gold, and poor people their earthen pitchers, and the drawers of water will have their wheel broken. [4.] Death will resolve us into our first principles, Ecclesiastes 12:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7. Man is a strange sort of creature, a ray of heaven united to a clod of earth; at death these are separated, and each goes to the place whence it came. First, The body, that clod of clay, returns to its own earth. It is made of the earth; Adam's body was so, and we are of the same mould; it is a house of clay. At death it is laid in the earth, and in a little time will be resolved into earth, not to be distinguished from common earth, according to the sentence (Genesis 3:19), Dust thou art and therefore to dust thou shalt return. Let us not therefore indulge the appetites of the body, nor pamper it (it will be worms' meat shortly), nor let sin reign in our mortal bodies, for they are mortal, Romans 6:12. Secondly, The soul, that beam of light, returns to that God who, when he made man of the dust of the ground, breathed into him the breath of life, to make him a living soul (Genesis 2:7), and forms the spirit of every man within him. When the fire consumes the wood the flame ascends, and the ashes return to the earth out of which the wood grew. The soul does not die with the body; it is redeemed from the power of the grave (Psalms 49:15); it can subsist without it and will in a state of separation from it, as the candle burns, and burns brighter, when it is taken out of the dark lantern. It removes to the world of spirits, to which it is allied. It goes to God as a Judge, to give account of itself, and to be lodged either with the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:19) or with the spirits in paradise (Luke 23:43), according to what was done in the body. This makes death terrible to the wicked, whose souls go to God as an avenger, and comfortable to the godly, whose souls go to God as a Father, into whose hands they cheerfully commit them, through a Mediator, out of whom sinners may justly dread to think of going to God.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12:4". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/ecclesiastes-12.html. 1706.