Ecclesiastes - Chapters 9 - 12

by Charles E. Bryce

Hello everyone. We’re going to finish up the series of the book of Ecclesiastes today. So if you’ll go get your Bible and follow along. We’ll start with Chapter 9 of the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon, of course, wrote this book, inspired by God and he starts off in Chapter 9, verse 1 by saying this:

Ecclesiastes – Chapter 9

1 For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: —

He came to realize that after trying everything without God in the picture. He came to realize, “No, God is in the picture whether you want Him there or not, and it’s all in His hand.”

1 — no man knows either love or hatred by all that is before them.

2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that fears an oath.

Now, what do you think this one event is that he’s talking about here? Well, let’s keep reading.

3 This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

By that he means, when you’re dead, that’s it. It’s over and it’s finished. Whereas, someone who’s still living still has a chance to change and still has a chance to live life the right way with an attitude of obedience to Almighty God. But when you think about it, I mean, a lion that’s alive would totally devour a dog that’s alive. But once that lion is dead and the dog is still alive, the lion can’t touch him.

5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

That’s one of the most important verses right here in Ecclesiastes, verse 5, showing that when a person dies, he’s dead. And like Rover, “he’s dead all over.” And he doesn’t know anything. Unless God is a part of the equation, they have no future reward. Therefore, also, the memory and the legacy of them are forgotten. Sometimes rather quickly.

But when we live our life in trying to please God, all of that is different. There are rewards then, and quite often, we leave a legacy that helps other people for generations.

6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

Isn’t that amazing how people spend so much of their energy and so much of their time on things like hatred and envy, and yet when they die, all that dies with them. And it would have been better not to get involved in those rotten attitudes and rather to develop attitudes of caring and serving and producing and achieving. And that helps other people even after the individual who had those attitudes is dead.

But when the attitude is one of hatred and envy, that only harms while they’re alive; and it does no good after they’re gone.

7 Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now accepts your works.

Well, I mean, done right, that’s fine. But of and by itself, that doesn’t satisfy either.

8 Let your garments be always white; —

That’s good.

8 — and let your head lack no ointment.

In other words, look your best, feel your best, look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp. That’s the way to live life. But what really caps it off is when we live it God’s way.

9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of the life of your vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all the days of your vanity: for that is your portion in this life, and in your labor which you take under the sun.

Now what about verse 9, the first part? Do you live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your life? And does she live joyfully with her husband? That’s what kind of marriage everybody can have and that’s what kind of marriage we ought to have. Of course, there are adjustments. Of course, there are rough times that you have to get through. But basically and fundamentally speaking, marriage was designed by God to be a happy experience for the husband and the wife. And it should be and it can be, and we’ll talk about that another time. But here’s a little glimpse of that right here in verse 9.

9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days —

&mdash:Of your life.

Now let’s go on down to verse 10. Another towering verse in the Bible. One of the most important ones, Ecclesiastes 9:10.

10 Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.

If we’re going to do something, we ought to try to do it right. And if we’re going to do something, we ought to put everything we’ve got into it. We ought to do it with our might. It doesn’t mean, of course, that we go about it in a frenzy and we go about it in a bumbling ineffectual way. That’s not going to get anything done. But we’re focused and we’re determined to achieve excellence. We’re going to do it the best we can and we’re going to do it with all of our might. Or else why are we even entering into this project, entering into this enterprise? It’s so much more fulfilling, and so much more productive and enjoyable and rewarding if we do what it says in verse 10.

10 Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; —

Wonderful principle.

11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.

Of course, the strong and the swift and the wise, those qualities all make a difference. But one thing that enters into each equation that man is involved in, each situation that he undertakes is this: No matter how hard he tries, no matter how fast he is, no matter how strong he is, no matter how smart he is, try as he might, he cannot escape this point:

11 — time and chance happens to them all.

We can be surprised by events we hadn’t even thought of, and we can be ambushed and bushwhacked by them and blindsided by them. And that can change the whole situation. See, that’s where God comes in the picture. If we live by faith, walk by faith, and look to God for His help and strength and guidance, then if surprises show up and time and chance enter into the picture, we can handle it much better and they won’t be as bad. They won’t be as all pervasive. They can be managed, and the outcome is much better. So that’s the point.

What Solomon is doing in this book is viewing life and developments without God in the picture. What we need to learn from going through this book is: We must walk with God. We must have God at the center of our lives, and that changes everything, including this matter of time and chance and the severity of that happening.

12 For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.

You know, good people suffer bad things. In this life today, they can be doing the right thing and they can be obeying all the laws and they can be trying to be righteous. And yet some terrible things can happen to them. What really makes a difference in a situation like that is if they are serving Almighty God. But if they are not serving Almighty God, then that makes it even worse when time and chance hits and when it falls suddenly upon them, as it says in verse 12.

13 This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:

14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:

15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.

Isn’t that the case? So often that’s the case. Not always, but so often that’s the case. But here’s the point, verse 16.

16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.

You’ve heard the old saying, brains over brawn. Of course, if you have both, that’s good. But one of the most important qualities any individual can have is wisdom. That is one of the most important qualities that we can have in our character. We can have knowledge, we can have strength, we can have experience, we can have talent, we can have ability, we can have connections, we can have all those things. But I’ll tell what really puts it over the top in the right way, and that is wisdom. It says it right here.

16 — Wisdom is better than strength: —

One of the reasons why it’s so important is because wisdom is what directs your ability, directs your knowledge, directs your experience to the best result. That’s what wisdom will do.

17 The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that rules among fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroys much good.

The nations in the world today would be a lot better off if they spent more time on Godly wisdom, the wisdom that is found in the Bible, than on weapons of war. But, of course, God is not even a part of the defense department in most nations. Even if He is brought up, or even if He is prayed to, God's way has very little influence in the “art of war.” The whole thing is better weapons, bigger weapons, more weapons. But this is what we need to consider if we’re trying to live our life God’s way:

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war: —

And it is a gift from God, and you can ask for wisdom and then He will help you develop it. That will then guide you in the paths of righteousness and in the paths of success.

Ecclesiastes – Chapter 10

1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: —

That’s true.

1 — so does a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor.

A man can achieve great things, or a woman, and they can be known for a wonderful reputation and they can be depended on for carrying out great responsibilities. But you let them slip up and you let them make a bad mistake, you let them have a lapse of judgment and it can end up really fouling up what otherwise was a wonderful record.

So we have to be careful. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. And when we do, we can repent of those mistakes and we can have the right attitude of apologizing or making it right. But we better be careful and not just check our brains at the door to where we end up saying some bad stuff or doing some bad stuff, or in a moment of weakness being pulled into the wrong place. Because that can end up coming back to haunt us. And it can end up really ruining what otherwise is a sterling reputation and a sterling pattern of life. There’s the warning in Ecclesiastes 10:1. Let’s take heed to that warning.

2 A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.

In other words, usually his right hand is stronger and so therefore he uses his attitude, he uses his strength in the right way. But a fool, he uses it to the weaker part of his life because instead of having a wise heart, he has a fool’s heart.

3 Yea also, when he that is a fool walks by the way, his wisdom fails him, and he says to every one that he is a fool.

Just by his actions, just by what he does. Our example says more than our words. We need to have both. But you can tell pretty quickly when you’re in the presence of a fool just by the way he acts. And then when he starts talking, he removes all doubt. Doesn’t he?

4 If the spirit of the ruler rise up against you, leave not your place; for yielding pacifies great offences.

It doesn’t mean that you should just be a throw rug. But there is a respect for authority, properly constituted authority, that we ought to all follow. And when someone in a position of authority maybe gets a little upset at us, maybe the best thing to do would be to listen to what he has to say or she has to say and try to learn and try to cooperate instead of returning in kind. Because that can escalate into a situation where you’re the one who loses and the ruler is the one who wins. And so we have to use wisdom here. That’s not being a coward. That’s not being weak. That’s being smart. That’s being wise.

5 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceeds from the ruler:

6 Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place.

Well so often, things get convoluted and society gets turned upside down, and people who ought to be in positions of leadership are not, and people who should never be in positions of leadership end up being there. And everything and everybody suffers as a result of that.

7 I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

Just look around in society today and you’ll see that that’s happening. Good, quality, principled people are not in positions of influence, and people of ill repute and people of horrible moral and immoral actions are in positions of authority. And they’re riding high, and the other people who should be in that position are just getting along barely in some cases. God can reverse that, but that’s the way that society seems to be going in an upside down manner. We don’t want to get caught up in that in our lives. We want to avoid that.

Here’s something else we need to avoid, verse 8.

8 He that digs a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaks a hedge, a serpent shall bite him.

You try to go after somebody, you try to get somebody and it’ll backfire. You set out to really do in someone else and you lay a trap and you dig a pit, God seems to have put in motion laws that eventually if not sooner will bring you to the point of falling in that pit and getting caught in your own trap. Not the way to do it. That’s not loving our neighbor.

9 Whoso removes stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaves wood shall be endangered thereby.

We’re not to be careless when we’re working around things like rocks and stones, and lifting and packing and hauling. That’s when we need to be really, really careful, and when we’re splitting wood, that’s when we need to concentrate. Otherwise people can really get hurt. A lot of wisdom here just in practical ways. A lot of wisdom here in terms of the way we live our lives. The Bible is full of big, towering, sweeping vision and wide horizons and vistas regarding thinking big and regarding aspiring to big things. It’s also full of very practical day in and day out principles of living that make a difference in how we relate to others and in how we relate to God. And this book of Ecclesiastes has many of those practical principles that we’d do well to study and think about and follow.

Verse 10, here’s one.

10 If the iron be blunt, and he does not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct.

He’s just saying, keep your ax sharp. That’s all he’s saying. He’s saying, don’t try to cut down a tree or split wood with a dull ax. It just requires much more energy and it’s not done as well. Same thing is true when it comes to knowledge and success.

Look at this in verse 10.

10 — wisdom is profitable to direct.

It directs what we do. It directs what we know. It directs what we are capable of. And that’s how important wisdom is. And let’s make sure that we try to acquire more wisdom; and if we ask God for it and we exercise it, we’ll see wonderful results.

11 Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.

Have you ever been around people who talk and then it gets into inane babbling. And it’s just a waste of time and they don’t even know what they’re saying; and if they do, they don’t even remember what they’re saying. And it’s just a bunch of wind and gas. Well, it’s a waste of time, isn’t it? And so you can see he compares that to a serpent here.

12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

That’s self explanatory.

13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.

That’s referring to a fool. You notice how Solomon is spending quite a bit of time on fools here. Now the Bible has a lot to say about fools. God says, “Only a fool says in his heart, there is no God.” We don’t want to be a fool or foolish. We want to be wise and we want to be people of substance. And we can, and reading these books in the Bible will help us.

14 A fool also is full of words: —

Have you ever noticed?

14 — a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

15 The labor of the foolish wearies every one of them, because he knows not how to go to the city.

And he won’t even bother to. He won’t seek wisdom. He won’t seek help. He won’t talk to people who know what they’re talking about and therefore learn and develop and grow as a result of that. He just thinks he knows everything and he doesn’t need to listen to anybody else. That’s a fool.

16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning!

You know, leadership and power and responsibility, it’s not for children. It’s for mature people who know what to do with it. And when children get in to the office of power or position, or if an adult who acts like a child and who is immature gets in those positions, then everybody is going to suffer as a result of it. And we know that. We’ve experienced that to one degree or the other. Just think about it and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Let’s continue in verse 16.

16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning!

Once again, it’s talking about a person who is too young to hold power and office. It also can apply to an individual who ought to be mature enough, and an adult, but who acts like a child. And what does it mean here when it says:

16 — your princes eat in the morning!

I mean, we eat breakfast in the morning, right? Well, that’s actually talking about partying all night and still eating in the morning and his judgment is going to be impaired because he’s drunk or he’s all caught up in wrong activity with wrong people. And it says: “Woe unto you when that’s the case.”

17 Blessed art you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season, —

Or feast at the proper time.

17 — for strength, and not for drunkenness!

He’s a diligent leader. He’s a responsible individual.

18 By much slothfulness the building decays; and through idleness of the hands the house drops through.

Or leaks. Everything has to be maintained. It doesn’t matter what it is. Even our own bodies have to be maintained. We have to be diligent in whatever we do. When we are diligent, we get wonderful results. When we’re lazy and we neglect maintenance of anything, car, house, or paper work, then trouble takes over. And here it’s talking about decay in the building and it’s talking about leaking roofs because they’re not maintained properly even though they might have started off being brand new. The house might have been a completely new house. But if it is not maintained and looked after, laziness and slothfulness will be the ruin of the house in time. That’s the wisdom in verse 18.

Now let’s notice Ecclesiastes 10:19.

19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry: but money answers all things.

That’s what people think. That’s the conclusion people reach when they’re not trying to do it God’s way. When they’re trying to live life God’s way, then all of that is kept in perspective. And money answers some things but it doesn’t answer lots of other things. And it’s certainly not the answer for all things when we are looking to God and not to ourselves or other people for answers.

20 Curse not the king, no not in your thought; and curse not the rich in your bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which has wings shall tell the matter.

You know, a lot of well known clichés and sayings actually come from the Bible. Or they are a version, kind of altered or modified, from the Bible. You’ve heard the saying, “A little bird told me.” Well, that’s just saying the same thing right here. It’s just saying, be careful what you say about other people and situations, and be careful what you’re saying even in private.

20 — curse not the rich in your bedchamber: —

Things have a way of getting out. So if we’re careful, then there won’t be a problem. But if we’re careless with our words, it could come back to haunt us. You know, whatever you are thinking, it says in the Bible, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So if what we’re thinking is right, then what we say will be right.

Furthermore, you might be thinking something. Those words are still yours. Once you speak those words, they’re not just yours anymore. Now they’re out there. It’s hard to take them back. It’s hard to repair the damage. So the point of thinking before you speak is a very wise point because once you’ve spoken, they’re out there for everybody then. And so this is just some of the wisdom built into that verse right here in Ecclesiastes 10:20.

Now let’s move on to Ecclesiastes 11:1.

Ecclesiastes – Chapter 11

1 Cast your bread upon the waters: for you shall find it after many days.

It’s talking about wise investment. It’s talking about giving. It’s talking about putting your resources to work and they will produce more resources—if putting them to work is not a matter of greed and politics and trying to take advantage, but rather a matter of trying to properly utilize the blessings God has given you. And with an attitude of serving Him and serving others.

Verse 2, notice here.

2 Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for you know not what evil shall be upon the earth.

3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall be.

And once it falls, it’s going to stay there unless you cut it up and haul it off. It’s not going to rise up again and plant itself again and keep on living upright. That’s just not the way it works. Many times, that’s the way things are in life. Once it’s taken place, it’s taken place. You can’t take it back. You can’t unring the bell as they say. You can’t rewind the tape and then make it all like it didn’t happen before. Once it’s happened, it’s happened. And so what we need to do is make sure that we’re using wisdom and God’s guidance so that whatever happens, there’ll be mistakes and we can correct those. But whatever happens, basically, doesn’t have to be a problem for the rest of our lives that we have to deal with, live with, or be punished for.

4 He that observes the wind shall not sow; and he that regards the clouds shall not reap.

5 As you know not what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so you know not the works of God who makes all.

Have you ever noticed people who can always find an excuse for not doing anything? They can find an excuse for not working. They can find an excuse for not planting. They can find an excuse for not harvesting. They can find an excuse for not getting up out of bed or going out of the house. “Oh, it’s going to be bad weather. It’s going to be a storm. It’s going to be this, that, and the other thing.” I can show a verse in Proverbs that says “The sluggard won’t even get out of bed. And his excuse is, there’s a lion in the street. If I go out of the house, the lion will eat me up.”

But people who are really successful and fully engaged in life and really get things done, they don’t let anything stop them. Basically, when it comes time to get a thing done, they figure out a way to do it. They are resourceful.

But those who try to get out of doing anything and just want everything done for them. They won’t plant because it’s going to be windy, and they won’t reap because it’s going to rain. Well, I’ve seen many, many farmers who are out there harvesting—he you know, the old saying goes “Make hay while the sun shines.” And I’ve seen other farmers park by the pub while farmer Jones over here is harvesting his crop. He got his crop in the bins. And then the guy who was at the pub, tomorrow he will harvest his crop, and guess what? Too late. It’s snowing or it’s raining.

Once again, wisdom in everything we do including farming is the point in verse 4.

Verse 6.

We’ve already gone through verse 5.

6 In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hand: for you know not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

Go ahead and do your job and let the results be in God’s hands. And if you’re trying to serve Him, He’ll take care of the results, and it’ll be good.

7 Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun:

You know, in the morning when you get up and it’s dark and the sun starts to peak over the horizon and daylight takes over and you see dawn open up and the beauty of creation and the birds are singing and the air is fresh, it’s a wonderful thing. Of course, we need to be careful. We should never look directly in the sun. That’s not what he’s saying here. We don’t look directly in the sun—that can damage our eyes, looking directly into the sun. But to see the result of the sun, to see it in a way where it’s not harmful as it sets or as it rises or the light that it casts all over the earth. It’s a wonderful, pleasant thing. It really is. And we need to take time to appreciate those things.

8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity.

Don’t get carried away with everything and forget that we have to be cautious. We have to be careful. We have to keep things in perspective. We have to be fully engaged in reality not detached from it. And above all, we have to do everything from God’s perspective if possible.

9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

Of and by themselves. But what I want to emphasize in verse 9 is the first part.

9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, —

More and more children are not allowed to be children and to have fun and to rejoice and to have good, clean, wonderful, joyous times. They get burdened down with the ways of the world and they get burdened down with dealing with this, that, and the other problem. And they don’t have anchors and they don’t have guidance and direction from their parents, and a good, solid home life. And so they miss out on so much of their childhood. Or they try to grow up too quickly. You can only be 14 once. You can only be 15 once. You’ll be 25 later. Be 14, then be 15, then 16, then 17. Once you get to 25, be 25. But enjoy your young years. Enjoy your teenage years and act your age. Be 13 and be 14 and enjoy all that’s built into those years. That’s what this is saying here. And it’s certainly something I hope that our young people will take note of.

The last chapter in the book of Ecclesiastes is Chapter 12. It continues right on talking about youth, and there’s a lot of wisdom here.

Ecclesiastes – Chapter 12

1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw near, when you shall say, I have no pleasure in them;

We need to teach our children to remember God in their youth. There are children who say, “I’ll get to that later. Right now, I’m going sow my wild oats and when I get done sowing my wild oats, then I’ll give some attention to God.” Well, that can be a disastrous approach.

Right from the get go, we need to teach our children to make sure that God is a part of their lives. And then their young lives will be much more enjoyable. That’s what it’s saying right here. God is the one who inspired this.

1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, —

At their level, we need to teach our children about God and His word. Frankly, if we do that, they will love it. They will have a curiosity, an intellectual curiosity about God and the Bible that’s very healthy. And they will understand it at their level. And as they mature more, then their understanding will deepen and broaden and be more mature.

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

Enjoy the wonderful time while you can because later on, there’s going to be problems. And what this is really taking about is the trouble that’s going to come as we near the end when Jesus Christ has to come back to this earth and take over and make it right. And before He does that, there’s going to be some rough times. And so let’s appreciate the peace and the joy and appreciate the happiness that we can enjoy at all ages, but especially here, He’s addressing the youth.

3 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,

It’s talking about a rough time, a terrible time of trouble and tribulation.

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 music shall be brought low;

There have been times like this before when life ceased to exist the way it had been existing for years. That’s true in war. Take World War II, take the ghettos in Europe, and all of this took place. And it was a horrible time. And people had to hide and flee and just eat whatever they could get their hands on. And many of them were brutally murdered. Well, the time is coming called the Great Tribulation that’s going to be even worse than that.

But it’s saying here, enjoy life while you can and be prepared for worse times. But enjoy the good times while you can is the principle. And, in particular, as a young person.

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, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goes to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets

In other words, terrible times in your city, in your neighborhood, in your country. You go to some of the countries on earth today and you’ll see some of these conditions. And people are suffering through them—famine, pestilence, disease, brutality, short life spans. There are people in the world today by the millions who can’t get to a doctor when they need help. In some cases, they’re just left alone. And they just slowly die, or sometimes mercifully die rather quickly. It’s hard for us who have so many wonderful blessings and amenities and services at our fingertips to realize how horrible life is for so many people on this earth, in third world countries, and even in some developed countries. But they are not part of the prosperity.

Well, you read Chapter 12 and it’s describing that kind of life. The Bible says in prophecy, that’s coming on the whole earth toward the end. And it’s just saying, be appreciative, be thankful, and enjoy what you can while you can. And of course, once again, if we tie it all in with our relationship with God, He’ll even help us through the bad times, no matter what age we are, even if we’re young.

6 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

Devastation in other words.

7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit —

Or the breath, that’s what the Hebrew word means, ruach. And the breath —

7 — shall return unto God who gave it.

Now he wraps everything up. We’ve been emphasizing all through these series of Bible Studies through the book of Ecclesiastes that this is Solomon who could do anything that man could do in his day. He had available to him everything that is possible for a man to have or do in his time, and he got involved in all of that. He drank deeply from the cup of life. He tried it all out, but without God in the picture, and his conclusion was, it’s just all vanity.

8 Vanity of vanities, says the preacher; all is vanity.

And vexation of spirit. It’s just a grasping for wind. There’s nothing lasting, there’s nothing worthwhile to it when it’s all said and done. It’s like eating cotton candy. But now notice how he wraps everything up. Now notice the point he’s been driving toward all along. Here is what we have been waiting for in terms of the lesson from this book.

Let’s just notice now.

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.

10 The preacher —

Speaking of himself.

10 — sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.

11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

In other words, they stick. Was it John Quincy Adams that said “Facts are stubborn things?” You know, words of the wise cannot be destroyed. The truth cannot be wiped out. It’s going to stand the test of time. And we have those wise words in the Bible and in this book we’ve been going through, the book of Ecclesiastes.

Notice the last 3 verses which sum it all up.

12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; —

And I love reading books and you probably do. But spend time reading good books and mark them up and go back and reread what you’ve read. But what I don’t like doing is wasting my time on worthless books. We can just stack up a pile of books, but what good is that going to do unless they’re worth reading. And there’s just endless numbers of books. Read, but choose what you read carefully is my advice.

12 — of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: —

Here it is. Here’s what it all comes down to.

13 — Fear God, —

That means stand in awe of God. It doesn’t mean be afraid of God or spooked by God or scared of God. It means stand in awe of God and His greatness.

13 Fear God and keep his commandments: —

That means the Ten Commandments. All ten of them. The first four have to do with loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. The last six have to do with loving your neighbor as yourself. It is a law that we apply in the spirit as well as in the letter. Not only can we not break the actual letter of the law, we also must make sure that we don’t break it in terms of the way we think. That’s the new covenant and that’s the level that the new covenant takes, the old covenant. That’s the level that the new covenant takes the law. It takes it from “You shall not kill” to “You shall not hate as well as not kill.” And so keep that in mind as you read verse 13.

Here’s the conclusion of the whole matter.

13 Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Now, you’ll notice that duty is in italics. The best translation is this: For this is man’s all. This is everything. This is in a nutshell the purpose in life. This is what God expects of us. Of course, you can break that down and expand it into so many other things. But that’s the core point, purpose, and responsibility of every human being.

13 Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

That’s what leads to success. That’s what leads to happiness. That’s what changes everything. That’s what makes everything worthwhile. Then when you sit down to eat and be happy and do fun things, it really is wonderful because you are doing so as you stand in awe of God and as you obey God. Then when you work your heart out, it’s really productive because you have God as a part of what you’re doing. Why? Because you stand in awe of Him and you try to obey Him.

And you know, if God didn’t exist, which He does, and the Bible is not inspired, which it is, and if you just take God and the Bible and push them out of the picture, this is still the best way to live. And that’s another thing Solomon was saying. You can try life anyway you want to try it. But even if God doesn’t exist and the Bible isn’t inspired, you will find that life is much more enjoyable if you will live it according to God’s law and keep Him in mind. Now if you really what to live life the way it can be lived and the way God designed it, the ultimate potential of living—know that God does exist and He is real; know that the Bible is inspired and it’s a manual of living and a handbook of how to really live life successfully, and with His help try to live according to His commandments and then that’s when life really is abundant.

So to be complete and to live life to the fullest, we need to do this, according to Solomon and according to the Bible, and frankly, if you really talk to people who’ve experienced happy lives, they’ll tell you the same in one way or the other.

13 Fear God and keep his commandments: —

This is man’s all. This is the whole man and woman.

13 — this is the whole duty of man.

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

The beauty of that is, if we’re trying to do the right thing and God judges us, we’re going to be fine. If we end up practicing wrong things, then we’re going to be held accountable for that and sooner or later it’s going to come out and God is going to judge and then we pay a big price.

So I hope you’ll go back now and read this book of Ecclesiastes often and understand it better and realize that when you look at all that Solomon covers here, apart from God, you end up thinking it’s all just vanity. When you look at all that Solomon covers here in connection with God, you can see that this is the way to live life abundantly because it’s all based on this.

13 Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

This is man’s all.

This is Charles Bryce with the Enduring Church of God.

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