The Book of Ecclesiastes
James J. Barker

Lesson 13



  1. I stated last week that in Ecclesiastes 11 & 12, King Solomon comes to his conclusion (cf. 12:13, 14).
  2. Chapter 12 really begins toward the end of chapter 11.  (There were no chapter and verse divisions in the original Hebrew text.)
  3. Youth is generally a carefree and enjoyable time (11:9).  Not a time for sin and worldly pleasures – “for all these things God will bring thee into judgment” (11:9b), but a time for good, clean fun.
  4. Life is to be enjoyed – but only in line with the Bible.
  5. In verse 10, Solomon is not saying that childhood and youth are unimportant or meaningless.   In fact they are very important, and very meaningful.
  6. What King Solomon means is they are transient and fleeting.  Childhood and youth go by very quickly and must not be wasted.
  7. Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.”
  8. We are reminded again of that familiar poem.  “Only one life.  ‘twill soon be past.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.”



  1. It is always best to make decisions for the Lord when you are young. It is not a pleasant subject to talk about but is a fact that as a person gets older his faculties, and mental and physical strength diminish (12:1, 2).  Here impending darkness and cloudiness signify old age.
  2. There is a song I am fond of.  It goes like this:

              Give of your best to the Master;

    Give of the strength of your youth.

  3. That is what King Solomon is saying here in Eccl. 12.  He uses figurative language to describe old age.  One preacher said, “Nowhere in literature is there a more classic description of old age than in the verses of (Ecclesiastes) chapter 12” (William MacDonald, Enjoying Ecclesiastes).
  • “keepers of the house” (12:3) = the arms and hands.
  • “strong men” (12:3) = legs.
  • “grinders” (12:3) = teeth.
  • “those that look out” (12:3) = eyes.
  • “the doors shall be shut” (12:4) = ears.
  • “he shall rise up at the voice of the bird” (12:4) = old folks wake up easy, sleeplessness.
  • “and all the daughters of music shall be brought low” (12:4) = cannot appreciate the singing and cannot sing very well.
  • “they shall be afraid of that which is high” (12:5) = older folks are scared of any height, and one of their chief fears is that they will fall.  It is difficult for them to climb stairs.
  • “and the almond tree shall flourish” (12:5) = a blossoming almond tree is white on top; hair turns white.
  • “and the grasshopper shall be a burden” (12:5) = the grasshopper that drags itself along is a picture of the halting gait of the elderly who may have to use canes or walkers to move about.
  • “desire shall fail” (12:5) = appetite, romance and desire are often gone.
  • “because man goeth to his long home” (12:5) = eternity.
  • “silver cord be loosed” (12:6) = the spinal cord.
  • “golden bowl” (12:6) = the brain.
  • “the pitcher be broken” (12:6) = the lungs.
  • “the wheel broken at the cistern” (12:6) = the heart.



  1. Our body is like an old tent (or tabernacle) that will soon be taken down and packed away (12:7; cf. II Cor. 5:1-4). Then our spirit shall return to God who gave it (12:7; cf. 3:20; Gen. 3:19).
  2. When President Adams was an old man, someone asked him how he was getting along.  He answered: “Oh, I’m doing fine, but this house I live in is getting old, so I think I’ll be moving out soon.”  And sure enough, he did move out shortly after that and went to heaven.
  3. The apostle Paul wrote, “absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8).
  4. In verse 8, Solomon repeats 1:2.  He has come full circle, and is now concluding his treatise.
  5. “The words of the wise are as goads” (12:11), i.e. sticks used to prod cattle.  God uses His Word to prod the apathetic, and the sluggish, and the undisciplined back in line.
  6. These words of the wise are to be “as nails fastened” (12:11), i.e. firmly imbedded into our minds.



  1. People today do not have a sense of duty (12:13).  But you have a duty and it is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (12:13).
  2. For young people, this includes obeying your parents and teachers, doing your school work, etc.
  3. Some day you will have to stand before God and give an account.  If you have done evil, God knows about (12:14).
  4. Benjamin Disraeli said, “Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle, Old Age a regret.”
  5. Do not make too many blunders, and you will not have many regrets.



  1. Solomon started off this chapter by saying, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (12:1).  Why?  There are many good reasons.  Let me give you the most important: in the matter of salvation your chances of getting saved are much greater when you are young.  Statistics show that more come to Christ when they are young.
  2. Secondly, in the matter of service you have more to offer God when you start serving Him at a young age.
  3. Young people: are you serving God right now?  Are you saved?
  4. William Cowper wrote,

    “I sum up half mankind

    And add two-thirds of the remaining half,

    And find the total of their hopes and fears

    Dreams, empty dreams.”

  5. This concludes our study of this wonderful book of Ecclesiastes.  It has been very interesting.
  • We have heard the voice of antiquity (3,000 years BC)
  • We have heard the voice of experience – Solomon did it all.
  • We have heard the voice of wisdom – Solomon was considered the wisest man in the world.
  • We have heard the voice of reason – this wisdom has been proved by men and women, boys and girls in every generation – therefore it is the most reasonable course of action.
  • Most importantly, this is the voice of authority – the Book of Ecclesiastes, like all the books of the Bible, was inspired by God.

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