1Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 ESV)
Yesterday young people were instructed to rejoice in their youth, for their youth is something to be enjoyed, especially since it does not last. But doing only that can (and likely will) lead to a wasted life. So today they are instructed to also remember their Creator.
“Remembering” God doesn’t mean that He crosses your mind once in a while. It means having an on-going relationship with Him much like we would have an on-going relationship with a friend. When we “remember” God we treat Him with reverence and gratitude. We seek His knowledge and advice for our lives [James 1:5].
We should do this in the days of their youth because as they get older life gets harder and less enjoyable. Verses 2-5 seem to refer poetically to old age and the negative physical and mental changes that go with it such as faltering memory and physical capacity (e.g. loss of sight and hearing).
On the other hand, youth is strength and freedom, if not sometimes folly. Adulthood is often difficult with its pressures and responsibilities and physical hardships. We have no pleasure in such a life. As life goes on, it tends to get less enjoyable.
It therefore becomes more difficult to “remember” God because we become so distracted with earthly things. It is much better to establish a relationship with God when we are young because if we do, that relationship will keep us from being overwhelmed by life as we get older [Proverbs 22:6].
Instead we should open our heart to God and seek His wisdom when we are young. We will then have our whole lives to use that wisdom so that our lives don’t become a burden, as it does for so many who don’t know God. Life is hard. Much that we do amounts to nothing. The author of Ecclesiastes acknowledges this. That’s why it’s best to discover the secrets to life while we’re young. Once we’re old it’s too late to make much use of them on this earth.
For one day, all of us will die. Our bodies, made of dust, will return to the earth. Yet our spirit returns to God who gave it. Notice that the author of Ecclesiastes is clearly making a distinction between our bodies and our spirits. We are not our bodies. Our bodies die. Our spirit lives on. We are eternal creatures.
All that happens to our bodies on earth is ultimately transient and meaningless. The only thing that matters is a relationship with God, for that is the only thing that lasts forever. And it is best to establish that relationship early in life so we’ll have not only the rest of our earthly days to enjoy it but also our post-earthly days.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.