Ecclesiastes 12 Commentary
The Book of Ecclesiastes sits between an introduction in chapter 1 and a conclusion in chapter 12. Chapter 1 verse 1 introduces the teacher as the son of David, a king in Jerusalem.
Chapter 12 closes the Book with hints that the teacher received his teachings from God. As with the Book of Proverbs, we can easily link Ecclesiastes to the moment when Solomon asked for wisdom from the LORD. The scripture wants us to have this thought in mind.
The teacher began with the following statement: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Chapter 1 verse 2. He has ended his teaching with the following statement: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” Chapter 12 verse 8.
Ecclesiastes is a collection of riddles interjected by straight teachings. The book itself may be looked at as a huge riddle brilliantly arranged in running rhythms or themes. The reader is invited to look into the meaning of what is meaningless.
“All things are wearisome.” Look at the streams, for an example. They constantly flow into the sea. Monotony. Boredom. Nothing changes. Nothing new happens. Humanity is caught in a loop. Totally meaningless. That is for the material world – the physical elements of creation.
Humanity can try wisdom. Maybe foolishness. It all comes to the same thing: nothingness. Righteousness or wickedness, what difference does it make? Pleasure in all sorts of areas and places but it all comes to nothing.
Chapter 12 follows the same pattern. This is a positive one – the life of a saved soul. It is dedicated to serving the LORD. And the timing is just very right – long before near death or death itself. The saint serves God in the prime of his life; giving God the best there is.
Death is described variously. A trip to one’s eternal home: The description rings with continuity. The present is temporal and not exactly as worthwhile.
Before the silver cord is broken: The statement depicts the sadness of loss. Something important has been lost.
Before the wheel is broken at the well: Again the statement depicts the sadness of loss. A valuable item hangs on a delicate thread.
Dust returns to dust: It is a depiction of the complete destruction of what once stood tall and in one piece. It is all dust at the end of the day. There is a sense of finality to it.
The spirit returns to God who gave it: This is profound. The spirit simply returns to where it once belonged. It doesn’t die. Or maybe it does. The other components simply change state, shape, or essence. From a nicely, carefully, and wonderfully-made body of dust to a probable pile of dust, if not scattered and serving a different purpose.
When the spirit has believed in the LORD Jesus Christ, it doesn’t die. But when the spirit fails to believe in the LORD Jesus Christ, it remains dead – the state it has been in from the moment Adam sinned.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11 verses 25 and 26.
The teacher ends his lecture on this note. He has looked forward beyond the grave. He has preached the resurrection without which all else is meaningless. “We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.” First Chronicles 29 verse 15.
Now the author or the compiler of this volume concludes with the following key statement: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” Verse 13.
And so concludes the Book of Ecclesiastes. Thanks for loving God’s word! Next is the Book of Songs.
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