Ecclesiastes 11:7-10

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 29, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

In the previous passage, the Teacher discussed the uncertainties of this life and how we cannot know what the future holds. But in today’s passage of Ecclesiastes 11:7-10, the Teacher speaks of one thing in life that’s almost certain: growing up and growing old.

Verse 7 says, “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.” Life always seems better when the sun is shining, doesn’t it? All things seem possible on a bright, sunny day. Light and the sun here are compared to our youth when it seems as though your whole life is ahead of you and anything is possible. It’s pleasing to be full of potential like that.

Verse 8 is somewhat of a contrast to that: “However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. But let them remember the days of darkness, for there will be many. Everything to come is meaningless.” We should enjoy however many days and years God gives us in this life. Just as the sun sets and night falls each day, the light of youth will dwindle as we get older. Just as light was compared to youth in the previous verse, here darkness is compared to old age. We have youth, then we get older; this is simply the rhythm of life.

The word “remember” here in referencing the days of darkness does not mean remembering as in reflecting on the past but to reflect on the future and keep it in mind. The days of darkness could also refer to death. The time we will spend after our physical death is likely greater than the time we spend alive on this earth, so we need to remember that our time here is short compared to being dead for the rest of eternity.

The phrase at the end of this verse, “Everything to come is meaningless,” refers to the idea that we do not know for sure what happens to us as after we die from this life. It cannot be explained by anyone who is still living on this earth. While we as followers of Jesus know that we have eternal life to look forward to, we do not know exactly what that looks like - and we won’t know until we get there. Everything to come after this life is still somewhat of a mystery to us.

Verse 9 goes on to say, “You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” This verse emphasizes the theme from the previous two that we should enjoy life while we’re young, and experience as much joy as we can in this life.

This verse may seem foolish when it says to “Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see,” and that by itself is foolish. The next phrase gives the caution: “but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” This is the idea of God’s natural law, that we can essentially do what we want, but there will be consequences, whether good or bad. Sure, follow your sinful desire and commit that sin - but know that God will judge you for it, and be prepared to accept those consequences. We need to have a sense of responsibility for our actions, both while we’re young and while we’re old (and anywhere in between).

Verse 10 concludes this section: “So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless.” Whatever age you’re at, we should not be anxious about anything. Our bodies will have trouble because of the sinful world we live in, but we shouldn’t worry about them. Philippians 4:6-7 echoes this: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

When the Teacher says that “youth and vigor are meaningless,” he does not mean that those years are not worth anything. On the contrary, the years of our youth are very formative and often set the path we’ll follow as we get older. The idea of “meaningless” here could mean simply that we do not fully understand the world as young people, so we have the vigor to accomplish much but may not understand the big picture well yet.

The reality is that after we are young and don’t know much (even if we think we do), we will grow older and hopefully become more mature. We should strive to enjoy all our days, no matter what our age, but knowing that there will be consequences if our enjoyment disobeys God. If we are following God and His ways, we’ll experience true enjoyment of life, not just temporary happiness in the pleasures of this world but the true joy that only He can bring.

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