Qoheleth (Hebrew for Ecclesiastes, i.e., the King who calls his people to teach them wisdom) is a most-amazing book. Qoheleth brings a Spirit-inspired message (12:9-11) that uses the wisdom and life experience of King Solomon to teach us how a man can find “advantage” (Heb. yithron, profit, i.e., something good left over at the end of it all) in this sin-cursed world. Throughout the book, Solomon tells us that that this life does offer us certain kinds of good things that we need to appreciate and enjoy, e.g., enjoying the fruits of your labor with things like food, drink, joy, celebration of life, etc. (2:24; 3:12-13; 5:18-20; 9:8), enjoying the blessings of marriage (9:9), and enjoying the blessings of youthful vigor (11:9). Qoheleth tells us to enjoy all of these kinds of God-given blessings, and to do so by willfully ridding oneself of anger, negative thinking, and all forms of pessimistic attitudes. Solomon says, “So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting” (11:10). Concerning this last point, the Apostle Paul reminds us, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Phil. 2:14-16). In other words, don’t be a grump!
Qoheleth tells us to live life with joy, because the sad reality is that each one of us is headed down a path toward old age and death (ch. 12). Qoheleth tells us that this effort to enjoy the life God has given should never include sin, for we are going to be judged by God when we stand before Him (12:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:10). But the message is that we should enthusiastically enjoy the time God has given, for the days are coming when it is not going to be very much fun (12:1). In 12:1-8 Solomon uses a series of metaphors from everyday life to figuratively portray the sad reality of what we call aging and death. Instead of clear skies after the storm, the clouds will remain (12:2), i.e., lfe will be perpetual grayness. The powerful fists that used to be your (city) “watchmen” now tremble with Parkinsons (12:3). Big strong (warrior) men now walk around all stooped over (12:3). The women who grind wheat accomplish nothing because these “grinders” (i.e., your teeth) are few (12:3). It is hard to look through your windows because they are dim (eyes). Outdoor sounds are weak (loss of hearing), and instead of sleeping like a baby you wake up at the sound of a little bird (12:4). The daughters who sing (your voice) is no longer strong and beautiful (12:4). Fear begins to overshadow reasonable thinking and you do not even want to venture outside onto the road (“I don’t like driving on those freeways”). The almond tree now puts out its white blossoms, i.e., no more jet black hair like yesteryear (12:5), and the grasshopper drags himself along. In former days, your physical activity was one of Boing, Boing but now it is Drag, Drag, and “the caperberry is ineffective,” i.e., even Viagra doesn’t work anymore (12:5). We head to our eternal home and there will be no U-Hauls following along with the mourners (12:5). This precious thing we call “life” (silver, gold, etc.) will soon be crushed and it will come time to return to the dust from which we came (12:6-7). What a tragic end! No wonder Solomon says, “Vanity of Vanities” (12:8).
What is the lesson for you and me TODAY to apply to OURSELVES HERE AND NOW? Let me give you three main points of application:
- Keep your heart pure and live for the Lord no matter what life might bring, for we will all give an acount to God (12:13-14).
- Cast out anger and negativity and obey Paul’s command to rejoice always (Phil. 4:4).
- Never forget that even though right now it might be Boing, Boing, soon enough it is going to be Drag, Drag. Live your life in light of eternity.
These are Spirit-inspired words of God that will revolutionize our life if we apply them as we should.
Love, Pastor Tim