In the first half of this chapter we see the writer Solomon depicting a rather gloomy picture of old age for the purpose of encouraging the younger generation. He is encouraging younger people to remember the creator in the days of their youth before the evil days come. Evil in this context refers not to the result of wicked living but rather to the unpleasantness of physical deterioration in old age. Solomon is saying we have an allotted span in life so don’t waste it, start young with God and carry on growing in him until the day we are called home v 7.
At the age of 14, I became a Christian and soon developed a love of God’s word and the God of the Bible through his Son Jesus. When doing O levels I had my religious education from a professor of a famous college. Well, discussions soon developed between this Bible believing teenager and this professor much to the delight of the rest of the class who didn’t need to work. You see I contended for the God of Creation whereas he was a liberal who didn’t accept the entire Bible, and needless to say I didn’t receive top marks in any exams. Some may say the arrogance of youth, but I knew without doubt what I believed. As I have grown older I still remember the Creator God from my youth, the body may be ageing but the faith is stronger.
After some very descriptive metaphors of ageing, which made me chuckle in places, we come to the second half of the chapter. This is very much the happy ending of the book, the Preacher (Solomon) describing how he wrote words with great care. Solomon uses the metaphor that words of wisdom are like goads; that is they are words that keep you on the right road. (A goad is a long stick with a pointed end used for prodding and guiding oxen while ploughing to keep straight furrows) The warning comes; beware of anything else, stick to the wisdom of the one Shepherd – God. Jesus, who came from the father God, is described as the good shepherd (John Ch.10), the great shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews Ch.13 v 20) and the shepherd from whom we were straying (1 Peter Ch.2 v 25). Without Jesus we are lost and astray from the father. John Ch.1 v1 ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. This is the wisdom we seek.
After much description in this book that all is vanity, we come to the great finale of life; the meaning of life (not 42) but this found in v 13 -14:
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
So stay grounded in the wisdom of God, through his word the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that we may receive on the judgement day the words: “well done good and faithful servant”.