All it takes is something “small” to ruin it all, a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor. Solomon goes on to describe the fool who lacks wisdom, multiplies his words, and doesn’t like to work. The wise, on the other hand work wise and hard, taking the time to sharpen his ax, to speak gracious words (Ecclesiastes 10:12).
The wise man is the generous man, his generosity will be repaid (Ecclesiastes 11:1).
Solomon had a lot of wisdom, but even he didn’t know everything, none of us do, none of us have anywhere near all of the answers:
Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NKJV) “As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything.”
We must simply do our best, God will bless…as He sees fit.
Solomon is old when writing the book of Ecclesiastes and he has a word for the younger generation – enjoy life and the things you can physically do while you can, but keep in mind that God sees EVERYTHING and one day we will give an account.
Solomon does his best to warn us what happens…when we age.
Eventually, when we get older, our bodies start breaking down, that’s the metaphorical language – the word pictures we see in this section. Notice how the NLT translates:
Ecclesiastes 12:1–2 (NLT) “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” 2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.”
(When our eyes go bad; and our minds get cloudy)
Ecclesiastes 12:3–4 (NLT) “Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly. 4 Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.”
Physicians tell athletes that the legs are the first to go, and shoulders that used to be so strong, grow weak; we start losing our teeth; opportunities are lost, we can’t work like we used to; and we won’t be able to hear the same.
When you’re young you can see the twinkling star 25 billion light years away. Our hearing at its peak is able to detect 15,000 different tones. Solomon says, there was a time when our hearing was so good, that we were awakened by the birds singing, but the day may come when we can’t even hear the music.
There’s more to growing old:
Ecclesiastes 12:5 (NKJV) “Also they are afraid of height, and of terrors in the way; when the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is a burden, and desire fails. For man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets.”
The older we get, the more we know the damage a single fall can do; they didn’t have knee and hip replacements back then. The blossom of the almond tree refers to our hair turning white.
Certain desires begin to fade. Aging inevitably means we’re closer to death.
Ecclesiastes 12:6 (NKJV) “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. 7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
Remember Him…before your life is over (symbolized in light and water).
The silver cord held a golden bowl in which the light burned. Remember God before that cord is loosed and the bowl is broken. Remember Him before the pitcher, or vessel of water is shattered.
Notice again what Solomon says happens when we die (Ecclesiastes 12:7 – the body turns to dust, the inner man goes to God). All roads do lead to God, but what happens after that, is dependent upon whether or not we’ve humbled ourselves and received the provision of righteousness found in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Solomon returns to his expression of emptiness:
Ecclesiastes 12:8 (NKJV) “Vanity of vanities,” says the preacher, “All is vanity.”
IF it’s only under the sun it’s vanity, but, if it’s under the Son – nothing is in vain. Paul the Apostle reminded the Corinthians about this – it’s not in vain!
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV) “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
The “Preacher” (Solomon) did his best to choose the right words to convey his message (Ecclesiastes 12:11) and his summary says it all doesn’t it?
Ecclesiastes 12:13–14 (NKJV) “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
The next couple of chapters in 2 Corinthians have to do with the donations that were being collected for the poor Christians in Jerusalem. They had been hit with a famine (Acts 11:28) and many Bible teachers safely assume that not only were the Christians in Jerusalem being persecuted physically and spiritually, but also financially. Paul encourages the Corinthians to follow through with their desire to help them out (2 Corinthians 12:8:10).
I love the way this offering is described repeatedly by the word “grace” (2 Corinthians 8:1, 6, 7, 9). It’s by the grace of God that I would ever be able to truly give to those who have genuine needs. Giving and generosity in any Spiritual fashion is a work of the Holy Spirit, it’s a privilege, a blessing, and even a joy.
Paul uses the Macedonian churches as an amazing example of giving – I like the way the NLT translates v. 2, “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” Imagine that, here they are, very troubled and poor, and yet they gave generously and sacrificially. They were able to do that because God had lavished them with His grace, and because they first gave themselves to God and His work (2 Corinthians 8:5). Paul encouraged the Corinthians, through Titus, to finish this work they had started.
After using the Macedonian church as an example, Paul then uses Christ as our pattern, how Jesus was rich, but willing to become poor, that we might become rich – spiritually speaking. How beautiful and wonderful our Lord is! O, that we might be like Him, with open hearts and open eyes to see the needs around us, and then be willing to graciously help somehow someway in the Name of Jesus. God help us to give charity benevolently so that people might taste and see God’s great love…and then benefit spiritually.
It’s interesting to see in 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 how Paul sees the church as a family, open to help each other whenever there was that genuine need. This can happen in different ways. I’ve seen throughout the years Christians help other Christians directly, and we’ve also seen people give through the church. Maybe there’s a sister, or a family who is hurting financially and the church is able to help out with rent, or pay a utility bill, provide a food card, or maybe a gas card. We really are family.
This Psalm definitely has the overtones of a Proverb – even using that very word in Psalm 49:4.
A common theme woven throughout the Psalm is the poverty of wealth, when wealth becomes one’s trust. All the money in the world cannot buy a single fiber of God’s forgiveness, much less the redemption of our souls!
Psalm 49:8 (NKJV) “For the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever.”
Psalm 49:8 (NLT) “Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough.”
Peter reveals to us the cost in:
1 Peter 1:18–19 (NKJV) “…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Therefore, don’t envy the rich, don’t overwork to be rich; don’t pour your life into your house or the properties you may amass – that’s what the world does:
Psalm 49:11 (NKJV) “Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.”
Don’t fear or envy the rich, for in the end, they end up with nothing, even if all others commend them – God doesn’t.
Psalm 49:17–18 (NKJV) “For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him. 18 Though while he lives he blesses himself (For men will praise you when you do well for yourself).”
Jim Elliot, “No man is a fool who give us that which he cannot keep, in order to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Proverbs 22:20-21 (NKJV) “Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, 21 That I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?”
I thank God for the book of Proverbs. Growing up I had virtually no guidance in life. I don’t remember many maxims, precepts, principles, or even morals being poured into me.
The book of Proverbs is the wise father I never had. Don’t get me wrong, my mom and dad loved me, and I had other adults in my life that did their best, but to have a Christian counselor on hand 24/7 like the book of Proverbs takes it to a completely different level.
Solomon indeed has written excellent things of counsel and knowledge. I’ve bee reading the Proverbs since 1989, now know the certainty of these words of truth, and now I’ve been graced to answer some of the tough questions in life…but it’s not our wisdom…it’s God’s.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.