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Jun 28, 2020

Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Solomon mentions death several times in Ecclesiastes, but in the final chapter of the book he focuses on death at some length. His thesis comes first, in verse 1. "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them.'"

Most of the verses in this passage describe, in poetic, figurative language, the waning years of a person's life, when, one by one, physical capacities diminish. The elements of a household here are often thought to be reflective of a body … trembling keepers of the house (hands), strong men stooping (legs), grinders being few (teeth), those looking through windows growing dim (eyes), doors being shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low (ears), blossoming almond trees (grey hair).

The urgent call here is to all people who enjoy the vigor of life before the debilitating infirmities of old age. Solomon is saying something very different from the old adage, "Youth for pleasure; age for business; old age for religion." Solomon is saying, "Give your heart, now, to God, so there will be a heart of faith when the weakness of old age lays you low." Or, as Derek Kidner wrote: "Death has not yet reached out to us; let it rattle its chains at us and stir us into action" (Kidner, A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance, 104).