Introduction: So many times in this series of studies we have worried
that Solomon’s advice was not exactly right because he seemed to
leave God and eternal life out of the picture. This week, in the
concluding chapter, King Solomon strongly appeals to us to remember
to put God in the center of our thinking and planning. Let’s dive
right into our study!

  1. Remember Your Creator

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:1. Presumably you have more trouble
      with your memory when you are old. What does Solomon mean
      when he tells us to “remember” God when we are young?
      (Solomon is telling us to make God part of our planning
      from the very beginning.)

      1. Do you recall the story of the farmer and the
        laborers that came at different times of the day
        ( Matthew 20:1-15)? All of the workers received the
        same pay whether they started work in the morning or
        started just before quitting time. If you knew about
        this payment plan, when would you start work? (You
        all answer, “Just before quitting time!”)

      2. The story of the farmer and the laborers is a parable
        about salvation. Given your answer as to when you
        would show up for work, why should we determine that
        we will “remember” (work for God) beginning in our
        youth? (King Solomon is now towards the end of his
        life and he realizes how much better his life would
        have been had he walked in God’s ways the entire

    2. Almost everyone I know (who is not retired)speaks fondly
      of retiring and the “golden years.” Look at the last half
      of Ecclesiastes 12:1, how does Solomon describe the
      “golden years?” (He calls them “days of trouble” in which
      he finds “no pleasure.”)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 12:2. Solomon begins his explanation of
      the reasons why he calls the “golden years” “days of
      trouble.” Will a time come when the sun, moon and stars
      grow dark? Will they fail at some point? (Solomon is not
      talking about the sun burning out, he is talking about our
      eyesight growing dim with age.)

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 12:3. What aspects of old age is Solomon
      describing here? (You shake and tremble with age. You
      stoop and you cannot do the kind of heavy work you used to
      be able to do.)

      1. I had a great-uncle who was remarkably powerful. I
        recall that when he was 75 he had huge wrists and
        powerful arms. Except for losing his hair, he seemed
        to defy age. Finally age and illness closed in and
        he, too, became frail and weak.

      2. “Do you use a paste that’s past? Are your choppers at
        half-mast? Use the paste that lets you grin. Gumbo
        keeps your grinders in.” This little limerick raises
        an issue about what Solomon means. When Solomon
        speaks about the few “grinders,” is he referring to
        our teeth?

      3. When he refers to those “looking through the
        windows,” is he referring to our eyesight?

    5. Read Ecclesiastes 12:4. Why would you close your doors
      just because you are aging? (Solomon may be describing a
      couple of things. He may be saying that you close the
      doors because you feel vulnerable as you get older. More
      likely, he is talking about the loss of hearing. Have you
      ever noticed how the “street sounds” dim when you close
      the door to your house? Since Solomon says the sounds of
      work and the songs of the birds grow dim with time, I
      think he is talking about the loss of hearing that comes
      with old age.)

      1. Why would old people get up with the birds, even
        though they cannot hear them very well? (They get up
        early because they cannot sleep.)

    6. Read Ecclesiastes 12:5. What else departs with old age?
      (We become fearful of falling, we are afraid of things
      that did not previously cause us fear. We lose our ability
      to jump around (“grasshopper drags”) and our sex drive
      drives off (“desire is no longer stirred”). No wonder
      Solomon says about this time of life, (Ecclesiastes
      12:1)”I find no pleasure in them.”)

      1. Why is Solomon writing about almond trees blossoming?
        (Almond blossoms are white – which is the color of
        your hair. Which you have, if you are lucky.)

      2. What is the final stage of life described in
        Ecclesiastes 12:5. (You die and people mourn as they
        take you to the graveyard.)

    7. At this point, has Solomon whetted your appetite for those
      “golden years?”

      1. If you are “wishing your life away,” you should stop
        it and enjoy life now!

    8. Other than discouraging us about getting old, what is
      Solomon’s point? (When we are young, we have the time,
      strength and mental ability to prepare for a life of
      service to God and others. How many young people waste
      their youth, putting pleasure before everything else, and
      before they know it they are old and unqualified?)

  2. The End of Your Time

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:6. What is all of this talk about
      severed silver cords, broken golden bowls, shattered
      pitchers and broken well wheels? (Solomon is writing about
      our death. Have you ever noticed how people avoid saying
      that someone died? They will use phrases like “passed
      away.” One of my favorites is used in the Salvation Army.
      They say, “promoted to glory.” Solomon uses some of the
      most beautiful euphemisms for death.)

      1. What does Solomon want us to do before we die?
        (Remember our Creator.)

        1. What does this suggest to someone who has wasted
          their youth? (That it is never too late to turn
          to God. Solomon starts out ( Ecclesiastes 12:1)
          by telling us to “remember” our Creator when we
          are young. But, if we fail to do that, at least
          “remember” Him before you die.)

    2. Let’s add Ecclesiastes 12:7 to verse 6 and read them
      together. What two components does Solomon suggest make up
      our being? (Our body returns to dirt and our breath
      returns to God.)

      1. Does this description of our “disassembly” at death
        remind you of another text in the Bible? (Read
        Genesis 2:7. The Bible clearly teaches that the body
        is nothing without the breath of God to make it come

  3. What Lesson to Learn?

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 12:8. Why does Solomon wind up his book
      the same way he started ( Ecclesiastes 1:2)? (He hasn’t
      changed his mind about everything being “hebel”
      (temporary, a breath), since he just ended on the note of
      our death.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 12:9-10. This sounds to me like the
      teacher died and someone else is making an endorsement of
      what he wrote. However, none of the commentaries I
      consulted agreed with me. Why should we listen to the
      teacher, Solomon? (He was wise, he researched and
      considered his teachings, people learned from him, he
      tried to write in an interesting, attractive way, and what
      he wrote was true.)

    3. Read Ecclesiastes 12:11. Do you like to step on a nail? Do
      you like to be prodded? Do you enjoy a stick in your eye?
      Why does Solomon compare his words to those things?
      (Hearing wisdom, hearing the truth persuasively presented,
      should prod us into action. Once we know the truth and
      understand wisdom, we can assemble our life with it (like
      nails). Wisdom helps hold us together in tough times.)

      1. What does Solomon mean by his reference to “one
        Shepherd?” (God. Solomon claims divine inspiration
        for his words.)

    4. Read Ecclesiastes 12:12. After telling us that he did all
      of this research before writing his book, how can Solomon
      sound so anti-intellectual? Is he telling us not to read
      and study? (No. He is telling us to beware of wisdom that
      does not come from God. There is God-inspired wisdom and
      then there is everything else. Don’t get tired studying
      everything else.)

    5. Read Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Is this a summary of the
      entire book of Ecclesiastes? (Solomon says it is.)

      1. What is the conclusion? (Acknowledge God and obey

        1. Why? (A judgment is coming.)

        2. How is this a summary of Ecclesiastes when so
          much of it seemed to ignore anything beyond life
          here? (Solomon’s point is that life is
          temporary. It is not always logical. Bad things
          happen to good people sometimes. Good things
          happen to bad people sometimes. During our brief
          time here we should obey God for He has an
          ultimate judgment. Ultimate judgment would make
          no sense without an ultimate reward!)

    6. Friend, will you accept the advice of Solomon? Will you
      agree today to acknowledge and obey God?

  4. Next week: “The Voice From Heaven.” We start a new series about
    the Bible itself.