Before the Silver Cord Is Snapped
Life is extremely fragile—and the poetry written here by the author of Ecclesiastes is intended to demonstrate just how fragile it is. It’s like a hanging lamp that is shattered as a result of just one little piece of the cord breaking. Our lives here are held by a very, very slender thread.
In the poetic world of the Preacher, it would take only the slightest movement for a cord to sever, a bowl to shatter, a pitcher to fall into the spring, or a wheel that has been used to bring the bucket up from the well to find itself out of commission. This list reminds us that one day, and very possibly without warning, our time will be up as well.
Perhaps you work in the world of investments, engineering, technology, or scientific research, or you know someone who does. In these fields of employment, all sorts of calculations are required—oftentimes vitally important ones. Every single one of us, however, is called to calculate something even more crucial: our life. And if we are ever going to number our days rightly or figure out life’s meaning and purpose, it will only be through divine grace.
The book of Ecclesiastes frequently reminds us that the end of our lives is coming. We are told that “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). But we are not at the conclusion of our lives—yet. So today is a day of opportunity.
What is the opportunity that we are being called to take? God, by His word, isn’t asking you to do something particularly difficult. He isn’t asking you to start a charity organization, to climb the height of Kilimanjaro, or to run around the block 47 times saying various prayers. He’s simply asking you to remember Him and commit all of your life to Him, without holding anything back, while you still can, so that, beyond the day when the silver cord is snapped, you will enter the eternal city where the streets are paved with gold (Revelation 21:21). Have you done that? Will you do that? Will you do that now?
Remember Your Creator in Your Youth
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,1 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. 8Vanity2 of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
Fear God and Keep His Commandments
9Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
11The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.3 14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with4 every secret thing, whether good or evil.
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