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Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 Notes

Eccl. 12:1-14 -J. Erwin

2. Life is a gift: enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8)

Remember (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8)

Between Ecclesiastes 12:3-5, we see thirteen parts of a picture that are used to describe the process of life and aging. The picture is of a house. Here, we see different parts of the house that begin to fall apart. Warren Wiersbe lists thirteen different parts of the house that fall apart.6

1. keepers of the house-Your arms and hands tremble (Ecclesiastes 12:3)

2. strong men-Your legs, knees, and shoulders weaken and you walk bent over (Ecclesiastes 12:3)

3. grinders-You start to lose your teeth (Ecclesiastes 12:3)

4. windows-Your vision begins to deteriorate (Ecclesiastes 12:3)

5. doors-Either your hearing starts to fail, or you close your mouth because you've lost your teeth (Ecclesiastes 12:4)

6. grinding-You can't chew your food, or your ears can't pick up the sounds outdoors (Ecclesiastes 12:4)

7. rise up-You wake up with the birds early each morning, and wish you could sleep longer. (Ecclesiastes 12:4)

8. music-Your voice starts to quaver and weaken (Ecclesiastes 12:4)

9. afraid-You are terrified of heights and afraid of falling while you walk down the street (Ecclesiastes 12:5)

10. almond tree-If you have any hair left, it turns white, like almond blossoms (Ecclesiastes 12:5)

11. grasshopper-You just drag yourself along, like a grasshopper at the close of the summer season. (Ecclesiastes 12:5)

12. desire-You lose your appetite, or perhaps your sexual desire (Ecclesiastes 12:5)

13. long home-You go to your eternal [long] home and people mourn your death (Ecclesiastes 12:5)

What will be your last words? Here are some from other people:7

"Nothing matters. Nothing matters" (Louis B. Mayer, film producer; died October 29, 1957).

"It is very beautiful over there" (Thomas Edison, inventor; died October 18, 1931; he may have been referring to the view outside of his window).

"I'm bored with it all" (Winston Churchill, statesman; died January 24, 1965; after saying this, he slipped into a coma and died nine days later).

"Am I dying, or is this my birthday?" (Lady Nancy Astor; died 1964; after waking briefly during her last illness and finding all her family around her).

"Why, yes, a bulletproof vest" (Domonic Willard, a foot soldier during the Prohibition, just before his death by firing squad, in response to being asked if he had any last requests).

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 What Life Is All About Part 2

Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 What Life Is All About Part 2 (A School and a Stewardship)

We come to the final section of the final chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes. For eleven chapters, Solomon has described ways that people try to find meaning in life and how that effort fails. He then turns to his take on "what life is all about." Last week we looked at life as an adventure and life as a gift. Today we end this section as well as the book with the last two ways to view life. One should view life as a school and as a stewardship.

1. Life is a school. Learn your lessons (Ecclesiastes 12:9-12)

Someone has said that life is like a school, except that sometimes you don't know what the lessons are until you have failed the examination. God teaches us primarily from His Word; but He also teaches us through creation, history, and the various experiences of life.1


1. God's curriculum is wise (Ecclesiastes 12:9)

"In addition to the Teacher being a wise man, he constantly taught the people knowledge..." (Eccl. 12:9)

As always in wisdom literature, "knowledge" is much more than information.

"for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man-" (Prov. 1:4, CSB)

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Prov. 1:7, CSB)

It involves the "know-how" of understanding and applying God's will in everyday life, and even more it entails the "know-whom" of a relationship of fear, obedience, and loyalty toward God.2

2. God's curriculum is orderly (Ecclesiastes 12:9)

"...he weighed, explored, and arranged many proverbs." (Ecclesiastes 12:9, CSB)

God's Word may be difficult to read, but it does have an order, a pattern, a grand story or narrative. Once you understand that, then learning God's curriculum is easier to understand. In this case, Solomon is describing the fact that he collected different sayings that God showed him. He is referring not just to the book of Proverbs, but also the words that God revealed to him here in Ecclesiastes.

3. God's curriculum is accurate (Ecclesiastes 12:10)

"The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and write words of truth accurately." (Ecclesiastes 12:10, CSB)

The truth that God's Word shares is accurate. There may be parts of the Bible that we don't understand. There may be parts of the Word of God that seem to contradict other parts. There are truths that seem to be in conflict or opposition. Yet, the more one learns from God's Word, the more one will find answers to the seeming paradoxes that immature people see in the Bible.

A twelfth-grade student has a better understanding of English than a first grader. The reason is that student has spent much more time with the subject matter. The same is true with the Word of God.

4. God's curriculum is inspired (Ecclesiastes 12:11)

"The sayings of the wise are like cattle prods, and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails. The sayings are given by one Shepherd." (Ecclesiastes 12:11, CSB)

Marshall McLuhan said the printed word is "obsolete." To prove it he wrote fifteen books.3 He is also famous for saying that "the medium is the message." The point he was making was that the way the message is transmitted impacts the message itself. He argues that technologies - from clothing to the wheel to the book, and beyond - are the messages themselves, not the content of the communication. In essence, The Medium is the Massage is a graphical and creative representation of his "medium is the message" thesis seen in Understanding Media.4

McLuham embodies the post-modern argument that people make today. You hear it with these words:

"Love is love."

"It doesn't matter how you believe as long as you don't hurt anyone else."

The reason I bring up McLuhan is that Solomon is arguing that the content of the communication, in this case, God's Word, is just as important as the way it is transmitted. It doesn't matter if you read it in a printed Bible or a smartphone, God's Word will works. It is inspired.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17, CSB)

It has a purpose. And it doesn't matter the method of transmission. The message will be meaningful for eternity. Jesus said it this way.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Mark 13:31, CSB)

The One Shepherd in Ecclesiastes is Jesus. Because it is inspired, it will make an impact in your life. Sometimes, that take painful words.

A goad is a pointed stick used to guide and prod animals in the direction the herder wants them to go. A wise teacher sometimes uses sharp and painful words to guide students as they think through difficult issues.5

5. God's curriculum is sufficient (Ecclesiastes 12:12)

"But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body." (Ecclesiastes 12:12, CSB)

Reading other books is like taking elective courses. Electives are not necessary to complete the learning in school. Being in band and sports may give you a wider understanding and experience, but they are not necessary to graduate from school. The same is true spiritually. You can read devotional books from famous authors to gain insight. However, they are like elective courses. They are not the Bible.

I have found that reading something from another author may help me understand something, but the best place to go is the Bible. As my experience in the school of life continues, I have come to the conclusion that the Bible can still be my primary teaching tool. I learn something new and relevant from the Bible. It happened again this week. So now, I am on the hunt for wisdom in different areas in my life. I begin with the Bible. I may support my discovery with other books and resources, but I start with the Bible.

This is why spending time with God in the Bible each day is so important. You can have to keep learning. You never stop learning in life.

2. Life is a stewardship. Fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Jesus summarized the Old Testament with the following two commands:

"He said to him, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands."" (Matthew 22:37-40, CSB)

Here in Ecclesiastes, we have a summary of the Old Testament from Solomon's point of view:

"When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, CSB)

The editor in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 does something like this by reminding us to fear God and keep God's commandments. In similar vein, Anabaptist martyr Hendrick Alewiins commended this text to his children as the "sum and conclusion of all books".6

Fear God

"When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity." (Ecclesiastes 12:13, CSB)

Ecclesiastes ends where the Book of Proverbs begins, with an admonition for us to fear the Lord.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Proverbs 1:7)

"The remarkable thing about fearing God," wrote Oswald Chambers, "is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else."7

If I fear God (and by fear, I mean give proper respect to God), then I will want to keep His commands.

Keep His commands

"When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity." (Ecclesiastes 12:13, CSB)

If God's Word lasts forever, then it is best that one learns to keep His commands.

Prepare for the final judgment

"For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:14, CSB)
If there is no God, then there is no Judge. If there is no Judge, then there will be no Final Judgment. If there is no Final Judgment, there is no ultimate meaning to life. Nothing matters.

This is the logic of Quentin's argument in After the Fall by Arthur Miller. Quentin says:

For many years I looked at life like a case at law. It was a series of proofs. When you're young you prove how brave you are, or smart; then, what a good lover; then, a good father; finally, how wise, or powerful.... But underlying it all, I see now, there was a presumption. That one moved ... on an upward path toward some elevation, where ... God knows what ... I would be justified, or even condemned. A verdict anyway. I think now that my disaster really began when I looked up one day ... and the bench was empty. No judge in sight. And all that remained was the endless argument with oneself, this pointless litigation of existence before an empty bench.... Which, of course, is another way of saying-despair.8

If there is no God to judge the world, then human existence is a pointless litigation that ends in meaningless despair. The Preacher who wrote Ecclesiastes would have agreed. From the beginning of his book he has been saying that if there is no God, there is no meaning. Nothing matters.

However, as Christians, we believe that life on Earth does matter. That there is a Heaven and a Hell. There is going to be a judgment. It says here that there will be two judgments. The good and the bad judgment. The New Testament clarifies that a rewards judgment for Christians. The "bad" judgment is for those who don't know Jesus.

Eccl. 12:1-14 -Dashhouse

What Life's All About? (Ecclesiastes 12:1-14)


The first thing that screams to me in the book of Ecclesiastes is that all human beings are essentially on a spiritual quest. We all ask the big questions: why are we here? what is our purpose in life? Tthe questions of meaning in life are fundamentally human questions: they belong to humans and not to animals the book begins: (Ecclesiastes 1:1) The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: (Ecclesiastes 1:2). "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." the author's quest was to find meaning in life, and he came up empty. The Teacher tells of his search in many different areas - wisdom, work, pleasure, prestige, but every time, he came up empty. So, you'll see that the book of Ecclesiastes is primarily a book about the search for meaning in life - a search that ends in frustration when we look in the wrong places. Look at your life. Isn't it true that your thoughts are about more than food to eat and clothes to wear? If we were not on a spiritual quest, we would worry about nothing more than our physical needs, but all of us ask what we could call spiritual questions: questions of meaning and purpose. Men and women have a universal curiosity and hunger for God


INTRODUCTION: We're now looking at the last chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter 11, we were told to live life to the fullest because it is short and the future is uncertain. In chapter 12, we are told to live life wisely because it is short and the future is uncertain, but one thing is certain about our future: we will die. Furthermore, the process of dying is not an experience filled with pleasure, but with sorrow. That's why Solomon tells us that time to serve God is now - before we lose the ability to enjoy life.

(Ecclesiastes 12:1): Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"

The term translated "remember" means to "act decisively on behalf of someone." What Solomon is saying is this: "Act decisively on behalf of God while you are young," don't waste time living a life of meaninglessness. Don't wait until you're white-haired before you respond. Honor God now with your life, because sooner or later your powers to enjoy life will deteriorate. What follows in verses 2 to 8 is a picture of the aging and dying process. The writer gives us metaphors to describe old age. We won't look at this passage in detail, and it's important to realize that students don't agree on all the details of interpretation. However, what we see here is the gradual deterioration that occurs with aging and that leads ultimately to death.

(Ecclesiastes 12:6-8): 7 Remember him-before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!"

We are instructed to turn to God while there is still time to discover the meaning of life and alter the course of our lives. Serve God while you still have your wits about you, while you can still enjoy life, and before you lose the fullest capacity to think of God's purposes and desires. The message of Ecclesiastes is clear: enjoy what you can, but be ever mindful of the transitory nature of life and the inevitable reality of death. Live for God, and give him your best years. A man came rushing up to a ferry, breathless after running at a terrific pace, but he got there just as the gateman shut the door in his face. A bystander remarked, "You didn't run fast enough." The disappointed man answered, "I ran fast enough, but I didn't start on time." To accomplish the most for God in our lifetimes, we must start early, in the days of our youth. Read with me the conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes:

(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14): Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

These verses, which form the conclusions of the Teacher's search for meaning, urge us to do three things that summarize his message:
(1) We're urged to have a right relationship with God (fear God). The word "fear" is another word for reverence or worship. We must give God the reverence and awe that come from our love for him and a respect for his power and his greatness. Ecclesiastes concludes by saying, take God seriously: life only makes sense as we surrender ourselves to God and serve him first.
(2) We're urged to maintain that relationship by following the law (keep his commandments). According to this passage, this is the chief end of man; the whole duty.
(3) Anticipate a final and future judgment. We may get away with disobedience today, but God will bring everything to judgment one day. The command is this: act decisively on God's behalf, believe in him. The abundant life he promised is available NOW, this morning. Jesus said, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt. 6:33). So, is life worth living? Yes, absolutely, but life only makes sense with God. You can continue your search for meaning elsewhere, but like the Teacher, you'll find only frustration and emptiness. Or you can come to God this morning and find the answer to our deepest needs. You can receive life in Christ, and begin leading the abundant life today.

First: Fear God. It's something that he's said all throughout the book. To fear God isn't to cower. Fearing God means that we know who he is and where we stand in relation to him. It means taking him seriously, acknowledging him in our lives as the highest good. It means that we stop trying to be our own little gods, that we stop trying to seek fulfillment in other things, and put God first instead. "It means an inner state, an inner condition of awe and amazement and wonder before the magnitude of the love and the power and the greatness of God" (Tim Keller). Start treating him like he's more real and more beautiful than anything else in the world.

Tony Evans puts it best:

The old belief, centuries ago, was that the sun revolved around the earth. As we now know, this belief was wrong. The earth revolves around the sun. Many of us have got it wrong in our spiritual lives. God doesn't revolve around us. We revolve around Him. We know that we fear God when we have made Him the centerpiece of our lives.

Second: Keep his commandments. This is not a separate thing. This is what it looks like to fear God. We obey him. This is what life is about. The most important thing for anyone to do is to worship God and obey his commandments. According to Charles Bridges it is "his whole happiness and business - the total sum of all that concerns him - all that God requires of him - all that the Savior enjoins - all that the Holy Spirit teaches and works in him." We were made to worship and obey.

Verse 14 gives us a reason, but it also gives us meaning. "For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." If what Ecclesiastes says is true, and there is no God, then life really is mad, and nothing does matter. If everything is a vapor and this life is all that there is, then life would be completely absurd. But at the end of this book we're reminded that this is not all that there is, and that life does matter. Because we will stand before God our judge, everything matters. This isn't all there is. As someone's said, "The final message of Ecclesiastes is not that nothing matters but that everything does" (Phil Ryken).

So here's the point of the whole book. Life is a series of dead ends apart from God. So, fear God, and show it by keeping his commandments.

If you've ever wondered what the meaning of life is, you've just found it.

The Preacher began this book by saying that everything is ultimately unsatisfying. There's nothing new under the sun. If we look to money, relationships, success, power, reputation, sex, or anything like that, we'll get a hit of pleasure, but it won't give us what we're looking for.

But the Preacher ends the book by saying that there is a God in heaven who rules this world, that everything matters, and that meaning is found in putting him first and obeying him. And because we've all failed, the good news that we all need is that Jesus opens wide his arms to anyone who's failed. The only way to fear God and obey him is to come to Jesus and say, "I'm not just sorry for my sins; I'm sorry for trying to be my own savior. Accept me because of what Jesus did." And he will change us and make it possible for us to live this way.

Listen to the message of the book. Fear God and obey him through Jesus.

EW Commentary

1. (14:1) The value of remembering God and eternity in youth.

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"; 2

a. Remember now your Creator: The idea of the Creator is important. This is the first mention of God as Creator. To this point the Preacher worked hard to ignore the eternal God one must stand before in the future; yet he also refused to think about the Creator God who existed before he did. This self-imposed ignorance relieved the sense of accountability before the Creator, which still must be accounted for in the life to come.
i. "Creator is a plural form in Hebrew, suggesting greatness of majesty." (Eaton)

b. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth: Solomon knew that youth are often those most likely to discount the reality of eternity and the eternal God. This is natural, but regrettable, in youth - they are often the most difficult to convince that this life is merely a brief prelude to eternity.
i. Adam Clarke suggested several practical and important points to draw from this exhortation, among them:
· You are not your own; you have no right to yourself. God made you; He is your Creator.
· Remember Him; consider that He is your Creator.
· Remember Him in your youth; do not fail to give God the first and the best.
ii. "The Preacher here exhorts them to remember God betimes, to gather manna in the morning of their lives, to present the first-fruits to God." (Trapp)
iii. "As in youth all the powers are more active and vigorous, so they are capable of superior enjoyments. Faith, hope, and love, will be in their best tenor, their greatest vigour, and in their least encumbered state. And it will be easier for you to believe, hope, pray, love, obey, and bear your cross, than it can be in old age and decrepitude." (Clarke)

c. Before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them": The Preacher advised young people to remember God and eternity before they suffered greatly by subjecting themselves to an under the sun premise and all the meaninglessness associated with it.

2. (14:2-5) A poetic description of advancing age.

2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut-when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low- 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets-

a. While the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened: Most agree that what follows here is a poetic description of the effects of advancing age.
· The arms and hands that keep the body now begin to tremble (the keepers of the house tremble).
· The legs and knees begin to sag (the strong men bow down).
· Teeth are lost and chewing is more difficult (the grinders cease because they are few).
· The eyes are dimmed (the windows grow dim).
· The ears become weaker and weaker (the sound of grinding is low).
· Sleep becomes more difficult and one is easy wakened (one rises up at the sound of a bird).
· Singing and music are less appreciated (the daughters of music are brought low).
· One becomes more fearful in life (afraid of height, and of terrors in the way).
· The hair becomes white (the almond tree blossoms).
· The once active become weak (the grasshopper is a burden).
· The passions and desires of life weaken and wane (desire fails).

i. Desire fails: "The word rendered 'desire' is found nowhere else in the Old Testament and its meaning is disputed." (Deane) Although, Kidner states: "This is the point of the Hebrew expression, 'the caper-berry fails'. This berry was highly regarded as a stimulus to appetite and as an aphrodisiac."

b. For man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets: At the end of man's advancing age is his eternal home - not the unknown grave and darkness. The Preacher has now set man's advancing age in connection with eternity, not vanity.
i. We do well to remember that the Old Testament generally does not state the life and condition of man after this life with great certainty. Yet through his diligent searching, the Preacher has come to the right conclusion - that after this life, man goes to his eternal home as the mourners go about the streets.
ii. "So this wonderful book closes with the enunciation of a truth found nowhere else so clearly defined in the Old Testament, and thus opens the way to the clearer light shed upon the awful future by the revelation of the gospel." (Deane)

3. (14:6-7) A final plea: Remember God before you go to life beyond the sun.

6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it..

a. Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed: Solomon again pleads with his reader to remember God before this life is over, and he repeated a variety of metaphors to describe the ending of this life.
i. "The image points to the value of life (silver... gold), and the drama in the end of a life whose pieces cannot be put together again." (Eaton)
b. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it: This is why it is so important to remember your Creator in this life; because when this life is over, one will answer to the eternal God and to eternity.

B. Conclusion: Eternity and the eternal God make everything matter.

4. (14:8) A final analysis of life under the sun.

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

a. Vanity of vanities: By way of contrast, the Preacher returned to his starting point (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Having examined the meaninglessness of life with an under the sun premise (excluding eternity and the eternal God), one must say that life is not only meaningless, but the ultimate in meaninglessness (vanity of vanities).
b. All is vanity: With the under the sun premise, not only is life meaningless, but all is vanity. Nothing has meaning. One man who reflected deeply on the meaning of life - and the price of a life lived without meaning - was a holocaust survivor named Viktor Frankl. His book Man's Search for Meaning relates some of his war experiences and understanding of life. He wrote: "This striving to find a meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man." "I think the meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected." (Frankl)

5. (14:9-12) The Preacher prods us towards true wisdom.

9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

a. Because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people: The Preacher's search for knowledge didn't leave him less wise. He was still a teacher of the people and a writer of proverbs.

b. The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well driven nails: The Preacher kept his confidence in the power of words to teach, challenge, and change people. Special confidence was appropriate in those words given by one Shepherd, even if they came through a wise man or a scholar.
i. The Preacher understood how one should proclaim God's truth.
· He should teach the people knowledge.
· He should seek to find acceptable words.
· He should seek to bring forth that which is upright - words of truth.
· He should make his words as goads and well-driven nails, with point and direction.
· He should bring forth the words given by one Shepherd.
· He should realize that good study is wearisome to the flesh and be willing to pay that price.
ii. Goads ... well-driven nails: "Here then are two more qualities that mark the pointed sayings of the wise: they spur the will and stick in the memory." (Kidner)
iii. "He realized that pleasing words (lit. 'words of delight') have a penetrating effect that slapdash and ill-considered words lack. Second, his words are written uprightly. The two characteristics balance each other. His words are not so pleasing that they cease to be upright." (Eaton)
iv. "This eloquent man took pains that he might be heard with understanding, with obedience." (Trapp)

c. Be admonished by these: One should take special care to hear and be admonished by the words of God, given by one Shepherd.

d. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh: The Preacher cautions us to not believe everything we read, for all does not come from the one Shepherd.
i. "We grow addicted to research itself, in love with our own hard questions. An answer would spoil everything." (Kidner)
ii. "Two thousand years have elapsed since this was written; and since that time some millions of treatises have been added, on all kinds of subjects, to those which have gone before. The press is still groaning under and teeming with books, books innumerable; and no one subject is yet exhausted, notwithstanding all that has been written on it." (Clarke)

6. (14:13-14) Conclusion: live as one preparing for judgment and eternity

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

a. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: After writing much of the Book of Ecclesiastes from a common but false premise, one that excluded eternal accountability and the God of eternity, now the Preacher concludes, having led us to the conclusion of the whole matter.

b. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all: Solomon came to understand that it was worth it to obey God, and this obedience both pleased God and fulfilled man's destiny.
i. "Fear God is a call that puts us in our place, and all other fears, hopes, and admirations in their place." (Kidner)
ii. "From that to this should be every man's pilgrimage in this world. We begin at vanity, and never know perfectly that we are vain till we come to fear God and keep his commandments." (Trapp)
iii. "If it is the 'beginning of wisdom' it is also the end, the conclusion; no progress in the believer's life leaves it behind." (Eaton)
iv. "This is the only place in Ecclesiastes where the commands of God are mentioned." (Eaton)
v. The King James Version (and other translations as well) inserted an unhelpful word in Ecclesiastes 12:13, translating For this is the whole duty of man. The word duty does not appear in the Hebrew text, and it has much more the idea of for this is man's all.
vi. "The last phrase reads literally: 'For this is the whole of the man.' Elsewhere in Ecclesiastes, however, the 'whole of the man' is a Hebrew idiom for 'every man' (cf 3:13; 5:19). The sense, therefore, is 'This applies to everyone'." (Eaton)

c. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil: This is impossible to say with an under the sun premise; yet it is the root reason why it is wise and good for man to fear God and keep His commandments.
i. There is, and will be, and eternal accounting for everything we do. This is the complete opposite of believing that all is vanity or meaningless; it means that everything has meaning and importance, both for the present and for eternity. "If God cares as much as this, nothing can be pointless." (Kidner)
ii. Through this book the Preacher carefully thought through (and lived through) a premise commonly held: of life lived without consideration of eternity and the eternal God. After all that, he comes to this conclusion - and challenges all those who continue holding to the premise he held through most all the book. "What would it be like, asks the Preacher, if things were utterly different from what you thought? What if this world is not the ultimate one? What if God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek him?" (Eaton)
iii. As Paul explained, this puts life into perspective: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven. (2 Corinthians 4:17-5:2)
iv. "This is how the book will end. On this rock we can be destroyed; but it is rock, not quicksand. There is the chance to build." (Kidner)