"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" The Preacher's Advice To The Young (11:9-12:7) INTRODUCTION 1. As a result of his search for meaning in life "under the sun"... a. The Preacher's concluded that "all is vanity" - e.g., 1:2,14; 2:1,11 b. Even one who lives many joyful years can still anticipate days of darkness - 11:8 2. While life "under the sun" (viewed purely from an earthly perspective)
is vanity... a. That does not mean one should simply give up in despair b. Throughout, the Preacher has counseled his readers to enjoy what good God has given one - e.g., 2:24; 3:12,13,22; 5:18-20; 7:14; 9:7-10 3. The lessons gleaned through the Preacher's own experience need to be learned by everyone, especially the young, otherwise they may... a. Waste years running after things that really don't satisfy b. Miss out on the true enjoyment of life available to them in their youth [To make sure that young people do not miss the lessons he has learned, the Preacher directs his attention towards them as he prepares to draw his book to a close. In 11:9-12:7, we find "The Preacher's Advice To The Young", the first of which is...] I. REJOICE IN YOUR YOUTH (11:9) A. GOD WANTS YOU TO HAVE A GOOD TIME... 1. He wants you to be joyful, to do things that are pleasing 2. Just as the Preacher had counseled earlier - 9:7-10 -- Therefore take advantage of the youthful capacity to enjoy life! B. DON'T LOSE SIGHT OF THE JUDGMENT... 1. You will have to give an account for what you do 2. God will judge both the righteous and the wicked - cf. 3:17;12:14 -- Therefore be selective in what you do to have fun! [God has created man with the energy to enjoy life, especially when we are young. As long as that energy is directed in the right channels, youth is to be a time of great joy! Along the same vein, the Preacher advises the young to...] II. REMOVE SORROW AND EVIL FROM YOUR YOUTH (11:10) A. REMOVE SORROW FROM YOUR HEART... 1. Sorrow deprives one of the joy they should have in their youth 2. Enough sorrow comes without our help...make sure that we do does not add to it through youthful indiscretions (which leads to the next point) B. REMOVE EVIL FROM YOUR FLESH... 1. Youthful indiscretions contribute to much sorrow a. Such as the wrong kind of companions - e.g., Pr 1:10-19 b. Such as succumbing to the enticements of the wicked - e.g.,Pr 5:1-14 2. Childhood and youth are fleeting...don't waste them on things that only bring much grief and sorrow in life [Youth, while short, can be a wonderful time of life. The key is to heed the next admonition, which has already been alluded in references concerning the judgment, and that is to...] III. REMEMBER GOD IN YOUR YOUTH (12:1) A. SERVING GOD IS NOT JUST FOR THE ELDERLY... 1. Great men of God served Him from their youth (e.g., Joseph, Samuel, David, Solomon, Josiah, Daniel) 2. Jesus provided the proper example as well - Lk 2:41-52 3. Timothy, who had known the Scriptures from childhood, was to be an example to others - cf. 2Ti 3:15; 1Ti 4:12 B. SERVING GOD WILL HELP YOU MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES... 1. Even as it helped Joseph - e.g., Gen 39:7-12 2. And as it helped Daniel - e.g., Dan 1:8 [Serving God in your youth will help avoid many of the things that bring sorrow, and prepare you for the "days of darkness" (11:8) that will come. This leads us to the final point in "The Preacher's Advice To The Young"...] IV. REFLECT UPON WHAT IS COMING (12:1-7) A. DIFFICULT DAYS ARE AHEAD... 1. Presuming you live long enough 2. As already stated, these days will be many - 11:8 a. They will be days in which little pleasure will be found - 12:1 b. The darkening of the lights of heaven denoting a time of affliction and sadness (Barnes) - 12:2 B. A TIME WHERE AGE AND DEATH CATCHES UP TO US... 1. The Preacher uses various figures to depict the body in old age and death - 12:3-7 2. What the figures of verses 3-6 possibly represent: a. The keepers of the house tremble (the arms weaken) b. The strong men bow down (the legs become frail) c. The grinders cease because they are few (the teeth fall out) d. Those that look through the windows grow dim (the eyes lose their sight) e. The doors are shut in the streets (the ears become hard of hearing) f. The sound of the grinding is low (the mouth and speech become unintelligible) g. When one rises up at the sound of a bird
(the elderly easily awakened) h. And all the daughters of music are brought low (the voice no longer able to produce music) i. They are afraid of height (their fear of falling) j. And of terrors in the way (no longer feeling invincible) k. When the almond tree blossoms (the wakefulness of old age setting in) l. The grasshopper is a burden (an old man, bowed like the insect, able to move only with some difficulty) m. And desire fails (fleshly desires wane) n. For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets (an obvious reference to death) o. The remaining figures, alluding to decay of the body 1) Before the silver cord (the spinal cord) is loosed 2) The golden bowl (the skull) is broken 3) The pitcher (the heart) shattered at the fountain 4) The wheel (the pelvis) broken at the well 3. Finally, the body returns to the dust, and the spirit returns to God - 12:7 -- The purpose of such a description is not to depress the young, but to instill the proper degree of sobriety (seriousness), a trait becoming the young - cf. Tit 2:6 CONCLUSION 1. The challenges our youth face are great... a. The temptations before them are many b. The allurements of the world promise much, but deliver little c. The young are very susceptible to depression and despair -- In a world in which life "under the sun" is vanity, they need all the help they can get 2. There is much in life that can be enjoyed, provided one heeds the Preacher's admonition: a. Rejoice in our youth b. Remove sorrow and evil c. Remember God in your youth d. Reflect upon the days ahead As the apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Galatia, which certainly applies to the young: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Ga 6:7-9) Do we wish to reap everlasting life? Then let us sow to the Spirit by walking after the Spirit (cf. Ga 5:16-23) and allowing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives to produce the good things that we shall reap!