The Duty of Mankind (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14)

Solomon wraps up his writing by summarizing his process, the value of his words of wisdom, concluding with an all-encompassing summary statement. If you are going to live wisely, Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Process – Having been given the great gift of wisdom, it was the Teacher’s goal to ponder life and speak of its ups and downs in proverbial sayings. Again, these are statements of observation that are generally true, not objective truths in a “Thus saith the Lord” sort of way. These teachings contain truth, and they were written in a method of excellence to find the best words for communication.

Ecclesiastes 12:9 – 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. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.

Wisdom Words – Solomon asserts that these words will hold life together successfully in the same way that firmly embedded nails hold objects together. He also pictures them as goads –pointed rods used to urge on farm animals – having the value of giving direction and stimulus for wise living. The words are of great value as from one shepherd, meaning from God. Others may wear themselves out by the making and study of endless other books, but there is one final truth from one Divine source.

Ecclesiastes 12:11 – The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Summary – Putting it all together, though life will have ups and downs, futility, and injustices, the duty of man is to keep God and His truth as the central focus for duty and obedience. Doing so will bring about a general life of success and reward, for judgment falls upon those who do otherwise.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – 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.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Even the wisest man did not see, know and understand everything. There were, as we’ve seen over and over in the past several weeks, many life observations that Solomon could not explain. It is an amazing truth that we are able to have greater understanding than did he, having in our possession and generation within God’s unfolding revelation a more complete understanding of time and eternity.

So if Solomon could rest in God with the unknowns of his experience, surely we can trust our faithful Lord and Savior to work all things together for good and for ultimate justice and righteousness.

We simply need to do what is right as God has instructed, leaving the rest to Him. In that posture is success in life under the sun, even in a crumbling world. Just do it.

<< So this ends the series on Ecclesiastes. Our next sermon series over the summer is called “Counterintuitive: Instinct Busters of Faith” … looking at various biblical themes that are not only surprising but also the opposite of what we would naturally expect or do. Our devotionals will not be daily for this series. Rather there will be one summary devotional on Mondays of each week. >>

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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