Ecclesiastes 12 – Nailing Down Wisdom
I wonder if I’ll ever read another chapter in any other book on earth that will have the same effect on me as this chapter in Ecclesiastes. The haunting beauty of the words, particularly in v6, breaks my heart. I’m afraid that you’ll probably not read much from me at all before you notice the filter of life & death through which I now see all things. But what is King Solomon, reputed to be the richest and wisest man in ancient history, saying to us at the end of his days?
After the heights of global fame, the breadth of unequalled wealth and the depths of knowledge never experienced by any other human being, at the end of it all, Solomon’s “death-bed message” tells us to remember our Creator while we’re still young. Don’t wait until you’re retired and reflective to bother with God. Instead, remember Him today while your eyes can see, your brain is still agile, your desire to search out and find your Maker, and your capacity to please Him is still creative and cutting-edge.
Do it before the days of trouble begin. [v1] Before you’re too old to stand up and be counted. Remember Him before the silver cord of Life is severed. [v6] We foolishly think that the thread, which holds us to Life on Planet Earth, is so robust that death is unexpected. It isn’t an umbilical cord that held you to your mother. The life-cord that holds us to this Life is a silver cord that, by its very nature, is incredibly fragile. Remember your Creator now before that beautiful yet delicate silver cord, which holds you to the Lord the Giver of Life, is severed or the golden bowl is broken.
Solomon knew about gold. He lined the inside of his temple in Jerusalem with it. He knew it was a metal and that in the shape of a bowl it was pretty hard to break. He also knew when he wrote these words, that once broken, a golden bowl will need to be melted down and reformed if you’re to use it in the important capacity that it had once been used. It’s not like my tea pot that Mark has glued the lid for when I cracked a piece out of it. It’s more like my large cast iron saucepan that I dropped onto our cement kitchen floor soon after buying it. The handle has never been replaced because we could neither glue nor weld it back on.
Remember your Maker before that golden bowl of YOU is broken – just as it was so unexpectedly for our Michael. Before the pitcher that draws Life is shattered at the spring, or the wheel (that draws Life for you) is broken at the well. Before your spirit returns to God who gave it. [v7] Without the pitcher and without the wheel that brings the bucket up from the wellspring, how can living water be drawn?
Mikey’s body stopped for no earthly reason at all, and his life drained from him. Unable to be gathered and put back in the vessel, it drained through our fingers and we were forced to we let him go. Yet while the rest of us live on now, in a time when all has been heard, there seems to be nothing under the sun that we cannot question and find an answer for, at the click of a google search. But if I could nail down wisdom, what would the conclusion of the matter be? What’s the ultimate thing to know before you begin the rest of your life today?
Fear God and keep His commandments. [v13] This is the whole duty of humankind who have been made in His image. And why bother? Because God will bring every deed into judgement, whether good or bad, including every hidden thing. [v14]
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