The Scriptorium

All Good Things

You won't be young forever. Ecclesiastes 12.2-4

Ecclesiastes 12 (2)

Pray Psalm 71.16.
I will go in the strength of the LORD God;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.

Read Ecclesiastes 12.2-4.

Prepare.
1. Which aspects of growing older does Solomon allude to here?

2. Why is he leading Rehoboam to think about this?

Meditate.
I suppose Solomon could have just said to Rehoboam, “Look, son, some day you’re gonna get old…” Instead, he cast that idea into a poetic narrative, piling on metaphors of what it’s like to get old, so that the experience of old age would be more vivid and memorable for his son.

Our sight (v. 2), our sure hands and strong arms (v. 3), the teeth we take for granted (v. 3), our hearing (v. 4), and the inclination to indulge everyday pleasures (going out, listening to the creatures – v. 4) – all these will one day be in decline. Better to prepare for that day now by remembering your Creator, fixing your delight on eternal verities rather than the fleeting pleasures of the flesh. In His Presence – “under heaven” – are joys and pleasures that no amount of bodily decline can eradicate (Ps. 16.11).

God delights in poetry and uses it frequently, throughout the Scriptures. Why are we so obtuse and uninterested in this neglected art? One reason, as Czeslaw Milosz explained in The Witness of Poetry, is that so much modern poetry simply isn’t accessible. Or good.

But poetry can bring more reality to our experience by associating unfamiliar things – like getting old – with familiar things – stars, sun, moon, grinders, windows – so that we make associations that enrich our understanding and experience of life.

How easy it is to take for granted the things we experience each day – our senses and the glories of the world around us. Like all Biblical poets, Solomon has a way of using poetry to remind us that there is glory in everyday experiences and things. We might even be able to discern something of God’s will for our lives, if only we pause long enough to reflect, and in our reflections, to remember our Creator.

Reflect.
1. Getting old can sometimes affect a person’s attitude toward life. How does remembering the Creator help us to cope with the changes involved in getting older?

2. How does poetry – such as we find in verses 2-4 – help us to personalize the experience of getting older?

3. Is getting old an excuse for no longer trusting and obeying God? Explain.

When a man has the pain of reviewing a misspent life, his not having given up sin and worldly vanities till he is forced to say, I have no pleasure in them, renders his sincerity very questionable. Then follows a figurative description of old age and its infirmities, which has some difficulties; but the meaning is plain, to show how uncomfortable, generally, the days of old age are.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ecclesiastes 12.1-7

The older I get, Lord, the more mature I should be growing in You. Help me to make progress in knowing You today, so that I…

Pray Psalm 71.17-20.
Seek the Lord for revival, and for an opportunity to share His strength and love with someone today.

Sing Psalm 71.17-20.
Psalm 71.17-20, 3 (Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
O Lord, I praise Your righteousness Who me from youth have taught and blessed.
Forsake me not when I am old, ‘til I Your mercies all have told!
Refrain, v. 3
A Rock of habitation be; command Your Word to rescue me.
My Rock and Fortress ever be!

Your righteous deeds are great and true. O God, there is no one like You!
Though many troubles I have seen, You will revive my soul again!  
Refrain

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Ecclesiastes fit in the overall flow of Scripture? Our series of studies, God’s Covenant, can show you, and help you discover the great beauty of the unity and diversity of Scripture, and how it all points to Christ. To order your copy of this important workbook, click here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore