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Christian Biblical Studies
Ecclesiastes 12: 1-7
THESE VERSES seem to present a vivid pen picture of old age ― ‘the evil days’ of physical decline and infirmity, ‘when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them’. The world offers its pleasures to the young, who snatch at the delusions; but age has proved them all empty bubbles. The world has nothing substantial to offer, and therefore, unless the mind has found its satisfaction in God, there is indeed no pleasure in old age.
This admonition sets the tone for the sober realities enumerated in the subsequent verses.
Both mental and physical vision grow dull, and clouds of trouble of one kind or another appear after the refreshing rain which offered hope of sunshine or prosperity.
The keepers of the house (the arms and hands) tremble; and the strong men (the lower limbs) bow themselves (unable to support the weight of the body), and the grinders (the teeth) cease (to perform their office), because they are few; and those various mental faculties that look out of the windows (the eyes) become dim.
When the work of life is done there is little in common with the rising generation, and therefore less and less communication. One shall rise up at the voice of the bird (early, being unable to sleep well), and all the daughters of music shall be brought low – the failing powers cease to catch the strains of earthly enchantments.
The labour and sorrow of extreme old age with all its infirmities lead to the failure of earthly pleasures and desires. In the ‘long home’ of death we will wait for the morning of the resurrection. ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ (Psalm. 30: 5).
6, 7. Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
The precious cord of life is released, the golden bowl (the body which contained the precious life-blood), broken. The pitcher (the lungs which drew in life from the fountain, the surrounding atmosphere) is broken at the fountain and the wheel of life (the heart), broken at the cistern. When the body can no longer perform its offices, the dust of which it is composed returns to its component parts (inanimate ‘dust’) and the breath of life shall dissipate into the surrounding atmosphere. The soul – the individual being – ceases to be, save as it is engraven indelibly upon the tablet of God’s memory, to be reproduced again in the resurrection.
Loosely adapted from Zion’s Watch Tower, May 15, 1893. This adaptation only, copyright November 2009 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
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