Advice to the Young
Ecclesiastes 11:1 – 12:7
Ecclesiastes 11:1 – 12:7
Be Diligent in Youth (11:1-10)
1 Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days. 2 Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. 3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. 4 He that observeth the wind will not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds will not reap. 5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, how the bones grow in the womb of her that is with child, even so thou knowest not the work of God who maketh all. 6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. 7 Now the light is sweet, and pleasant is it to the eyes to see the sun; 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 cometh is vanity. 9 Rejoice, young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. 10 Then remove discontent from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh; for childhood and youth are vanity.
Remember God in Your Youth (12:1-2)
1 And remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw nigh, of which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 before the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars, be darkened, and the clouds return after the rain;
Reflect Upon What is Coming: A Poem Alluding to Decay of the Body (12:3-7)
What is Coming in Old Age (12:3-5)
3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows are darkened, v.3 Arms, Legs, Teeth, Eyes. The “keepers of the house tremble” refers to when the arms weaken. The “strong men bow down” refers to when the legs become frail. The “grinders cease because they are few” refers to when the teeth fall out. “Those that look through the windows grow dim” refers to when the eyes lose their sight.
4 and the doors are shut toward the street; when the sound of the grinding is subdued, and they rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; v.4 The “doors are shut in the streets” refers to when the ears become hard of hearing. The “sound of the grinding is low” refers to when speech become unintelligible. When “one rises up at the sound of a bird” refers to how the elderly easily awakened. When “all the daughters of music are brought low” refers to when the voice no longer able to sing.
5 they are also afraid of what is high, and terrors are in the way, and the almond is despised, and the grasshopper is a burden, and the caper-berry is without effect; (for man goeth to his age-long home, and the mourners go about the streets;) v.5 They are “afraid of what is high” refers to the fear of falling. The “terrors in the way” refers to when the elderly feel no longer invincible. The “the almond tree blossoms” refers to the white hair of old age setting in. The “grasshopper is a burden” refers to an old man, bowed like the insect, able to move only with some difficulty. The “the caper-berry is without effect” refers to a plant that was used to stimulate the appetite. It no longer works on a very old person, or one who is near death. Man goes to his “age-long home” when he dies. The mourners go about the streets after people die.
Various Ways to Die (12:6)
6 — before the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be shattered at the fountain, or the wheel be broken at the cistern; v.6 Various ways to die are described. The “silver cord” refers to the spinal cord which can be severed. The “golden bowl” refers to the skull which can be broken. The “pitcher” refers to the heart. The “wheel” refers to the pelvis, which is somewhat circular, and is usually broken when a person is crushed.
A Definition of Death (12:7)
7 and the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit return unto God who gave it.