Ecclesiastes 12:9-14

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 13, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

After all the wisdom we’ve read in the book of Ecclesiastes, we have finally made it to the conclusion of this book!

This conclusion section begins by going back to the author of this book, the Teacher. Verse 9 says, “Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs.”

It’s one thing to have wisdom, and it’s a completely different thing to give that wisdom to others. When I was in college, I had a few professors who were incredibly intelligent, but they were not good at teaching that knowledge to those of us who didn’t have their level of genius. Just because a person knows something, whether intellectual knowledge or how to perform a skilled task, doesn’t mean that they are able to teach that thing to others. The Teacher is pointing out here that he not only had the wisdom but also shared it with others, through the writing of this book.

It’s clear that the Teacher was careful in selecting his words. The second half of verse 9 contains three verbs in the Hebrew that are all in an intensive form: he balanced, he searched, and he made straight many wise words. The fact that these verbs are intensive shows that the Teacher didn’t just write whatever came to mind but was intentional about choosing the words that make up this book. It’s also interesting that the Hebrew noun for “proverb,” which we know to be a wise saying, comes from the same root as the Hebrew verb for “to rule or reign.” It is implied that anyone who is in authority should heed these wise sayings, and that is clearly true for the Teacher’s life.

Verse 10 emphasizes this fact: “The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.” This verse also begins with another intensive verb for seeking just the right words to write down. It literally says in Hebrew that he sought to find the delightful or pleasurable words, though we know from reading the book that this does not mean that he sugar-coated everything to make it sound good to us; in fact, at face value, this book seems like quite a downer. But he states that everything he wrote is upright and true, which I believe we can verify simply by reading it.

This claim is also verified in verse 11: “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails — given by one shepherd.” The one shepherd these words were given by is, of course, the one true God. We know that God gave the Teacher this wisdom, and the Teacher has imparted it to his readers of that day all the way through time to us and our future generations. These wise words are to be firmly embedded into our lives to encourage us to honor God with all that we do.

Verse 12 gives a warning against other literature that may not be as full of Godly wisdom: “Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” Just do a quick look on the Internet today and you’ll find millions of books available; none of them come close to the wisdom that is contained in the Bible. Some books help us comprehend and apply the wisdom of the Bible to our lives, while some may actually point us away from that wisdom. Studying all of these books, especially those that are not helping us study the truth of God’s Word, will make us very weary, and they will not help us live better God-honoring lives.

The Teacher’s final concluding thoughts are in verses 13-14: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” This is the point of life for the Teacher, to fear God and do what He has instructed us to do. We know that we will be judged for our actions in this life, so we should strive to have wisdom and to do what is right.

But, for us living on the other side of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know that there is more to it. We are still called to fear God and keep His commandments, but we also know that when we have faith in Jesus’ sacrificial death, our judgment will be Jesus’ judgment. God will have grace on us for when we mess up keeping God’s commandments. We deserve death for our actions and our disobedience of God, but through Jesus, we will have life. We will be judged, but because of our faith, God will hand Jesus’ judgment over to us - eternal life with Him instead of eternal judgment.

While this is the conclusion of the text of Ecclesiastes, next week I’ll write a summary of the highlights my study through this book. It definitely has been an adventure in wisdom!

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