Day 30: The conclusion of the matter (12:9-11)
“And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd” (12:9-11).
“Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words and write the plain truth. The words of the wise prod us to live well. They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together. They are given by God, the one Shepherd.” (12:9-11 MSG.)
We now come to the end of Ecclesiastes and the Preacher (Teacher, Philosopher, Quester – depending on the translation) sums up. We will consider his conclusion in two parts – today and tomorrow, noting yesterday we left off where he began – life, lived out under the sun, is vanity – but there is hope if you bring God into the equation. He has already begun to do so and tomorrow we get the grand finale of what makes life meaningful. There is no false modesty here when the Preacher declares himself to be wise and one senses his sense of grave responsibility when he declares he has done his best to pass of the wisdom he has learned – not just because it was given to him by God but he has learned it the hard way. Having addressed our key thought yesterday of remembering our creator when young and a lifetime of serving and enjoying God, we see him pass on a worthwhile legacy for those we leave behind. Here, the Preacher gives it his best shot (and we can do no better ourselves). The truth is the truth and his job was to present it as best he could in the realisation “the sayings of the wise are like the sharp sticks that shepherds use to guide sheep, and collected proverbs are as lasting as firmly driven nails. They have been given by God, the one Shepherd of us all.” (12:11 GNT.) Besides passing on the truth (and often to do so comes at a personal cost – ridicule, rejection etc.) we must live it out – we are without excuse if we don’t, because God is speaking to all of us concerning how we conduct ourself when it comes to living life under and beyond the sun – and tomorrow we nail what exactly the Preacher says we need to do. As a final thought – it is a great privilege and responsibility to pass on what God is saying (word and deed). For those who do, whether in the pulpit, workplace or home, not something to be treated lightly; we should encourage and honour those who carry out this solemn undertaking.
Prayer: We thank you Lord for the Preacher and his message of vanity of life under the sun, but we thank you, you are in control – may we follow your way.