Spurgeon Verse Expositions - Ecclesiastes 12:1 - 12:14

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Spurgeon Verse Expositions - Ecclesiastes 12:1 - 12:14


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Ecc_12:1. 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;

Do not give God the dregs of life. Do not offer in sacrifice to him anything that is worn out. Remember that, among the first fruits which the Jews were to bring to the priest to be offered on God’s altar, there were to be “green ears of corn, dried by the fire, even corn beaten out of full ears.” The Lord delights to have the hearts of his people while they are yet children. The Lord says, through Hosea the prophet, “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms;” as if, while they were but little, God had taught them to take their first steps in walking. There is also that passage in the prophecy of Jeremiah, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness.” God delights in those early evidences of love in the morning of life, while the dew is upon everything, and there is a sparkling freshness all around. I pray that you who are young will remember your Creator in the days of your youth.

Ecc_12:2. While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:

As they do in old age, when troubles seem to multiply, and the brightness of life seems to have gone.

Ecc_12:3-4. 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, 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 musick shall be brought low;

This is a wonderfully vivid description of the failure of our natural powers. “The keepers of the house shall tremble;” these are our arms, which are the guardians of the house of our body. We naturally thrust out our hands and arms to protect ourselves if we are likely to fall, so they are “the keepers of the house.” “The strong men shall bow themselves,” that is, our legs and knees begin to shake. “The grinders cease because they are few.” Our teeth gradually decay, and at last fall from their places. They are like the first falling stones of a decaying wall, tottering to show how the rest will soon follow. “Those that look out of the windows be darkened.” The eyes begin to lose their quickness of sight; and fresh windows — double windows —are sometimes needed to assist the failing sight. “The doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low.” The voice fails. Then there comes sleeplessness, so that the first little bird that chirps in the morning wakes up the aged man; and as for music, his ears sometimes fail to catch the sweetest melody, and his own voice is unable to attune itself as once it did: “All the daughters of music shall be brought low.”

Ecc_12:5. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish —

This is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetic description that were ever penned. Here we have a true picture of the nervousness which creeps over men in the decline of life. Then there is the flourishing of the almond tree; there are many before me now whose white hair shows that the almond tree is flourishing.

Ecc_12:5. And the grasshopper shall be a burden,

Those things that we treated lightly in our youth become a very heavy burden in our later years. A little work wearies, a little care fatigues, and a little trouble frets us as it never used to do.

Ecc_12:5. And desire shall fail:

The whole nature becomes more calm, and less ambitious, and less ardent than it used to be.

Ecc_12:5-6. Because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about 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 broken at the cistern.

“The silver cord” is the spinal marrow, which gradually relaxes, for the strength and power of it are gone. The whole frame begins to show symptoms of the paralysis which is creeping on. “The golden bowl” is the skull, which contains the brain, and whoever has seen a skull must see how appropriate the figure is. Then, in “the pitcher” and “the wheel” we have a reference to the circulation of the blood, of which Solomon seems to have had at least some inklings. There have been writers who have affirmed that the entire system of anatomy might very well be gathered from these words. They are wonderful, not only because of the poetic imagery which is on the surface, but also because of the depth of meaning which lies beneath.

Ecc_12:7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Thus will it happen to us all unless Christ shall first come. The machinery of our being will stand still. The fountain of life will be dry; no longer will the living floods rush through their appointed courses as they used to do.

Please remember that we are not merely talking about people in the street, of whom we know nothing, but about ourselves also for we are mortal, so we must die. Let us believe this, and prepare for it.

Ecc_12:8. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.

This seems to be the conclusion to which Solomon came by the experiment of his own life, as well as by the teaching of God. This Book of Ecclesiastes begins thus: “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

Ecc_12:9. And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.

That man is not fit to teach who does not give good heed, and set his words in order. He who says whatever comes first into his mind, only gives out chaff which the wind driveth away. But he who would scatter his seed broadcast must take care that he has in his seed-basket good seed that is worth sowing in the broad furrows of the world-field.

Ecc_12:10. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words:

The Hebrew expression means words of delight, for words that delight the ear may help to win the heart, and so prove to be “acceptable words.”

Ecc_12:10-11. And that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goods, and as nails fastened by the Masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

The true preacher’s words pierce us like the sharp ox-goads pierce the cattle, but they are also like nails that are driven into the wood, and clinched so that they cannot come out. There must be something to stir our emotions, and something to retain in our memory. We need the goads, for we are like the ox that is slow at the plough; and we need to have the nails well driven into us for our memory is often like a rotten piece of wood which lets the nail slip out as soon as it has to bear any weight. May the Holy Spirit make all of us, who are preachers, to be wise so as to know how to use the good and how to drive the nail!

Ecc_12:12. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there in no end: and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

That is what Solomon said, and he had never seen the British Museum, or the Bodleian and other noted libraries, for, if he had done so, he would have said, with an emphasis, “There is no end,” for the books of his day could scarcely have been one in a thousand, or one in a million, compared with those which are now produced. I should not wonder, however, if the one in a million was quite worth the million. There are many books made that may benefit the printer, and the publisher, and the bookseller, but they are not likely to benefit anybody else.

Ecc_12:13. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Reverent walking before the Most High; reconciliation to him so that we can thus walk and thus live, and all this proved by a life of obedience to his commandments: “This is the whole duty of man.”

Ecc_12:14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Notice that expression, “every secret thing.” It is not merely our public actions that God will judge, else might we be more at our ease; but he takes account of our most private thoughts, words, deeds, and intents. Who among us can endure that ordeal? Yet we must endure it if we are to stand before him. O Lord, prepare us, by thine infinite grace, through faith in thy dear Son, and by the regenerating work of thy gracious Spirit, for this solemn testing time! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from Ecc_11:6-10; Ecclesiastes 12.



Ecc_12:1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth:

Now we get on solid ground. There is an irony in the advice, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes.” There is no irony here; there is solid, sound advice: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” May every young man take this advice, and carry it out!

Ecc_12:1. While the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble,

These arms and hands of ours shake by reason of weakness.

Ecc_12:3. And the strong men shall bow themselves,

These limbs, these legs of ours, begin to bend under the weight they have to support.

Ecc_12:3. And the grinders cease because they are few,

The teeth are gone.

Ecc_12:3. And those that look out of the windows be darkened,

The eyesight begins to fail.

Ecc_12:4. 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 musick shall be brought low;

The old man sleeps very lightly; anything awakens him. He hides away from public business. The doors are shut in the streets.

Ecc_12:5. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way:

There is none of the courage of youth. Daring is gone; prudence, not to say cowardice, sits on the throne.

Ecc_12:5. And the almond tree shall flourish,

The hair is white and gray, like the early peach or almond tree in the beginning of the year.

Ecc_12:5. And the grasshopper shall be a burden,

A little trouble weighs the old man down. He has no energy now. The grasshopper is a burden.

Ecc_12:5. And desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets; or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken,

Before the spinal cord is broken, or the skull becomes emptied of the living inhabitants.

Ecc_12:6. Or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.

The circulation of the blood begins to fail, the heart grows weak, it will soon stop. The man’s career is nearly over.

Ecc_12:7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

This will happen to us all, either to return to dust or else return to God. Whether we die, and return to dust, or live until the coming of Christ, our spirit shall return to God who gave it. May the return be a joyous one for each of us!

Ecc_12:8. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge;

Yes, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, They prick us onward, as the goad does the bullock, when he is trying to stop instead of ploughing in the furrow.

Ecc_12:11. And as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

The words of the wise are driven home, like nails, and clinched. There is one Shepherd who, by means of his servants’ words, leads his flock where he would have them go.

Ecc_12:12. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the duty of man. Or, “this is the whole of man.” It makes a man of him when he fears God and keeps his commandments; he has that which makes him “the whole man.”

Ecc_12:14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Depend upon it that it will be so. At the last great day, there will be a revelation of everything, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. Nor need the righteous fear that revelation, for they will only magnify in that day the amazing grace of God which has put all their iniquities away; and then shall all men know how great the grace of God was in passing by iniquity, transgression, and sin.

This exposition consisted of readings from Ecclesiastes 11-12