The author of Ecclesiastes examined the dead-end streets that men and women travel, exposing the futility of a world without God, before concluding with a most important plea: “Remember your Creator.” Alistair Begg helps us understand this plea to abandon self-sufficiency in light of the grim picture of our certain physical decline. When we find our purposeful delight in fearing God, this reverential awe banishes all other fears and draws us to our Father with certainty that Christ has provided a way for us to know Him and to rest confidently in His salvation.
If you have a Bible, I invite you to turn with me to Ecclesiastes and to chapter 12, and we’re going to read this chapter. If you have difficulty finding it, it’s kind of in the middle—Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and then just before Song of Solomon. Ecclesiastes 12:1:
“Remember 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’; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in 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, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and [when] one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—they 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—before 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, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
“Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there[’s] no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
Thanks be to God for his Word.
Father, “You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” And so we pray that this Word may be a very lamp to our feet and a light to our path that brings us to believing trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Well, it just seems appropriate, on this weekend when we remember everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces, that we take the time to do a little remembering ourselves. And that is why we’ve turned to one of the places in the Bible where we are called to remember. It’s clearly not unique; the story of the people of God throughout all of the ages is, in large part, a call to remembrance. And even the apostles, as they begin to write their letters, are saying—for example, Peter—“I intend always to remind you of those things so that you will be able to bring them back and that the recollection of them will be helpful to you.”
And so it is that the concluding chapter of Ecclesiastes begins with this word: “Remember.” The book of Ecclesiastes, which may well have been written by Solomon—there’s disagreement over that—but it is written by someone, the Qoheleth, who is translated “The Professor” or “The Preacher,” who sets out to examine life from “under the sun.” Every so often he punches, as it were, beyond that canopy and introduces God into the story, but by and large he is conducting, if you like, a survey, and he is pointing to the conclusion that any endeavor to try and make sense of life without the wisdom of God is, in the end, an exercise in futility.
Now, that might seem a quite striking thing to say; indeed, it is. And you may be here this morning and say, “Well, I think that’s rather something of an overstatement.” Well, let’s see. And let me encourage you to read Ecclesiastes and consider for yourself.
What he does in the early part of the book is walk the readers—that’s ourselves as we read it—down a series of what prove to be dead-end streets. He doesn’t start out by saying, “This is a dead-end street.” He simply walks down it, and he says, “Oh dear, this is another dead end.” You’ll find them, if you read. At one point, he says, “I applied my heart to … wisdom,” and he said, “I’m going to be as intelligent as I can possibly be.” And, of course, it’s good to be educated and intelligent, but it doesn’t answer the deep longings of the heart. And he said, “This is a cul-de-sac.” He then tried “madness,” or “folly,” and the kind of Monty Python approach to the world, if you remember that in the ’60s and ’70s. And he discovered that when everything is funny, nothing’s funny. And when he worked that out, he said, “This is a dead-end street.” Then he tried working very, very hard. If you like, he embraced materialism: “If I can just get as much stuff as possible, perhaps in my park or my house or my holiday home, I will find the answer to life.” Dead end.
And then he tried wine and women and song—it’s all here in the book—and long before Mick Jagger and the Stones jumped up to declare it, he had concluded, “I can’t get no satisfaction. There is no way,” he says, “that down these streets I’m going to be able to answer my deepest questions or satisfy my longings.” He would have concurred with a couple of lines from one of the Oasis songs from the ’90s: “All the roads we have to walk are winding, and all the lights that lead us there are blinding.” And that really is what he’s saying: “I thought that I could make a straight line to security, to satisfaction, to peace, and in actual fact what I discovered was that I was on a circuitous route, and frankly, the sun was just in my eyes and made it very, very difficult.”
Now, why does he do this? Well, he does it in order that he might show that at the end of all of these streets, in the futility of it, he could then say, “But there is a way in which we can make sense of the riddle of life.” And he wants to point the reader to the one who “makes everything beautiful in his time”—namely, God the Creator; the one who, according to 3:11, has “set eternity in our hearts.”
Now, with all that said, I commend to you a reading of this book. You will find it to be very contemporary and profoundly helpful.
Let me try and trace a line through the chapter which we have read for ourselves by pointing out that it begins with a call or with a plea, it then follows with a picture, and it concludes with a punchline. So, there you have it: a plea, a picture, and a punchline.
First of all, the plea. I use the word plea not because simply I wanted another word that begins with P, but because, in actual fact, this is not a suggestion here by the writer. He’s not saying, you know, “If you fancy doing this, go ahead, it doesn’t really matter.” But no, it is much more like he is calling out to the readers: “Now, as I wrap this up,” he says, “remember your Creator.” Actually, he says, “Remember also your Creator.” Why “also”? Well, because this is not the first call to remembrance in his book. In fact, if you just allow your eyes to go up the page, you will see that in verse 8 he says, “If a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.” You say to yourself, “This is dreadful! He’s a very morbid person. He takes you up on the one hand and brings you crashing down immediately on the other.” No! He’s not being morbid, he’s being honest. He’s being realistic.
You may be here this morning, and you never read the Bible. But you’ve got the impression that, somehow or another, if you read the Bible, it introduces you to a sort of triumphalistic journey through life. You may have met some people who suggested that, and they’ve annoyed you intensely. Because nothing ever seems to go wrong for them at all—or, at least, if it does, they want to hide it from you. And so you’ve decided that it cannot possibly be real, it cannot possibly be right. That’s why it’s always good to turn to the Bible. You find the Bible is compellingly honest. “Rejoice in all your days,” he says, “but pay attention to this: dark days are part of it.”
When I was thinking about it this week, it turned me again to Psalm 88. There was another reason why Psalm 88 was in my mind. You can guess if you wish; some of you will know. But the Eighty-eighth Psalm has this little section. The psalmist is writing, if you like, in his journal at the end of the day, and he says, “I am afflicted, and I’ve been close to death from my youth up. I suffer your terrors; I’m helpless. You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me. Darkness is my closest friend.” “Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.”
Now, let me just pause here for a minute and say—and acknowledge the fact—that it would be a strange gathering if there were not at least one or two who have immediately said, “Okay, I can listen to this. Because this, now, is actually talking to me where I live.” Because it may be just immediately, or over a period of time, you have concluded that the jigsaw puzzle of your life does not match the picture on the front of the box, because the picture on the front of the box is a picture whereby everything is swimming, but in actual fact, as you pick up the pieces, it’s not there. What are you to do? Remember. Remember your Creator.
Now, again, when he says “Remember,” this is not some kind of perfunctory mental activity. No, the word for “remember” means to concentrate upon, it means to deliberate on; it is something that is entirely intentional. So what he’s actually saying is, “Let’s not go back down the cul-de-sacs again. Do not go back down the road of frustration and selfish disappointment. Instead, abandon all of that—abandon the sense of self-sufficiency, finding the answers in yourself or in your circumstance—and instead, remember your Creator.”
Well, what would that look like? Well, let me give it to you in 3-D, or just three words that begin with D. Perhaps you will find it helpful.
What will it mean to remember my Creator? Well, number one, that I was designed by him. That I’m a designer model, and so are you. That you have been intricately formed, your inward parts knitted together in your mother’s womb. In other words, you’re not a chemical accident. You are not a product of time plus matter plus chance. He designed you—Creator.
Secondly, you may depend upon him. You may depend upon him. Because he is almighty, and he is powerful, and he knows everything, and he knows everything about you. And after all, he made you. He of all people in the entire universe knows who you are and how you work, and how the bits and pieces fit. And many times, God will bring us to places simply in order that we might discover that—that I can depend upon him. You remember when Jonah ends up in the belly of a fish, he says, “When my life was fainting away, I remembered—I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came. I called out to the Lord in my distress, and he answered me.”
I’m designed by him, I may depend upon him, I will delight in him—delight in him. This is not, like, remember an ancient relative or something—somebody who lived in the past—or remember a piece of poetry that you had to learn when you were in elementary school or something like that. No, no, no. To remember is to offer to God the kind of intense loyalty that is found in human love or in national fervor—human love or national fervor.
You ever fallen in love? You ever read the book of Song of Solomon? “I will rise now and go about the city, [and] in the streets and in the squares; [and] I will seek him whom my soul loves.” It’s not simply the recollection of the existence of the lover, but the longing for the presence of the lover. Delighting in him—the delight that is represented when the psalmist says, “Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you … [O] Jerusalem.” Again, nothing casual about it. But this is the picture that is provided in that verb.
It’s the plea—a plea that is as clear as it is urgent: “Remember also your Creator.” And he puts a time frame on it: “in the days of your youth.” In other words, “Don’t let the excitement of being young cause you to neglect God.” Or, if you like, further down the line, “Get on this before you begin receiving letters from the AARP.” Who is it sends those things? That’s not right. I’ve never opened one of them yet. It’s pride on my part that prevents me, I’m sure.
“Don’t fall for the lie that the serious stuff can wait.” That’s what he’s saying. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Don’t fall for the notion that says, you know, ‘Youth is for fun, age is for business, and old age is for religion or religious speculation’—in other words, ‘I’ll get to it somewhere down the line. I’ll get serious about it later.’” He says, “No, no, don’t do that.”
At the same time, the exhortation involves being aware of using the best years of your life and neglecting this plea: “Beware of succumbing to the trap that is all about maybes and might-have-beens.” And what he’s saying is, “Reckon with what is, with the moment, with the is-ness of it all. Take action in relation to what is within reach.” What he writes is a call to action. It is a call to embrace opportunity. It is not some morbid introspective poem that causes us to focus only in the realm of vain regret and despair and lack of possibility. Not for a moment!
Now, the plea is then called out in relation to the framework of the frailty of life. And that’s the picture that he then gives: “…in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near [when] you … say, ‘I [will] have no pleasure of them.’” It’s a kind of Creedence Clearwater part here—you know, “I see a bad moon rising. I see trouble on the way. I think we’re in for stormy weather,” that kind of thing. That’s what he’s saying. Very realistic as well, isn’t it? I find that very helpful. We’ve had some amazing storms lately, haven’t we? One minute it’s sunshine, and the next minute it is unbelievably dark. He says, “Now, you better be careful. Because those evil days are going to be coming.”
Now, what does he mean by “evil days”? Is he talking there about wickedness? Is he talking about sin, per se? No! When he uses the phrase “evil days” here, they need to be read in the light of what follows. What follows? A picture of the often-unpleasant physical deterioration of old age. That’s what follows. And you can enjoy this after lunch today, trying to identify which parts of this fit with your uncle, your brother, your mother, your wife, or whoever it might be. I don’t suggest you tell them to their face, but you can just sit and look at them and see if you find any of these pieces. What he’s saying is this: “The springtime of life will give way to the chill of winter. You can count on it. You can absolutely take it to the bank. The rain clouds will come. They will turn daylight into twilight. Now,” he says, “let me give you a picture of this. I’ve given you the plea: remember your Creator. Do it now.” It’s very straightforward, isn’t it? It’s wonderfully helpful, too.
You remember November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, 1994, when President Reagan wrote his letter to the American people? You remember that amazing sentence? “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.” That’s very honest, isn’t it? I like this honesty. I don’t like the stuff in the magazines on the airlines. If you do, and if you wrote them, and if your picture is in them, I say it with great respect, and I apologize up front. But who are these people? Plastic surgeons, and people with diaphragms and bellies on them, they’ve no bellies, and “Everything is fantastic,” and “You’ll never grow old,” and “Your face will always be perfect,” and “You’re fit perfectly, and just beautiful,” and the thing… You’re sitting on the plane sucking in your gut, you know, trying that, you’re like, “Who is this person? This is not true! It’s not true.” Let me tell you what’s true: the Bible’s true. You see, the Bible is so true. It gives you the entire journey of life with no holds barred: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Now, what does he do here? We can’t go through it; we’ll be here until late in the afternoon, and all the barbecues will be burned. What he does is he provides a picture of the fading physical and mental powers. It is a somber picture. There’s a kind of quasi-comical, somber, tragic picture, but it’s realistic.
I’m sure you get a physical when you’re supposed to. I try and avoid it every year, but I did go this year, because my doctor said if I don’t come back, he’ll never see me again and doesn’t like me. So, I can’t deal with that kind of, you know, loss of friendship, so I went. And everything went jolly well, and it was going well. And then at one point, as he’s giving his little assessment, he says to me, he says, “You know, Alistair, at your age now, one of the things you really need to guard against is, you must be careful that you don’t fall.” I said, “What?” I’m looking to see if someone else called Alistair’s walked in the room. “If I don’t fall? You mean, like, fall?” “Yes!”
And then I thought about how difficult it is for me to get down off here when people want to say hello to me on Sundays. It’s a major operation. I used to be able to jump down. Now I’m afraid to. How did that happen? It’s all in this. It’s all here. You know the parody of “I’ve got friends in low places” by, what’s his name? Garth Brooks? Someone says it should read, “All my friends have hip replacements, ’cause they all fell down in their basements.” I mean, that’s about where we are.
So what he does is, he gives us a picture of the house of our lives. You see, your life is a house. And it starts to make sounds in the night, now that it’s old—annoying sounds. It starts to show evidence of wear and tear. Every attempt at repair only draws attention to the fact of its decay.
It’s a strange picture, but it’s pretty honest. You find the individual here, shaky, stooped, searching for her reading glasses, discovering aisles in the drugstore that were never meant for her. He asks if his steak could be a little softer—perhaps liquefied—because his “grinders” are not grinding the way they once ground. This is called, in dental terms, “inadequate occlusion.” And the few that he’s got left aren’t really working. He wakes up at the sound of birds, but it’s not because he can hear them; it’s just ’cause he’s an insomniac. He’s suddenly afraid of heights. He never was. He leaves sporting events early to avoid being jostled by the crowd. There’s more chance of him breaking his leg in the grocery store than breaking eighty on the golf course. These are just the facts of life.
If you think this is bad, his almond tree has blossomed—sounds like his hair has gone—and like a grasshopper, he drags himself along. Not a pleasant picture, is it? Here he comes, grasshopper. And “desire fails.” This is a mixed group; I’m not going to get into that. But it did, and it does, and it will. And why is this? Well, because he’s “going to his eternal home.” In other words, he’s on the last stop on the freeway. There’s only one exit left, and after this, it’s obituary time.
Now, what is he doing here? The writer is pressing upon his readers—that’s you and me right now—the absolute finality that comes with death: that our bodies will be dissolved to dust and our spirits will return to God who made them. That is according to the curse of God in Genesis on account of the sin that entered into the world, bringing with it death and decay.
The fragility of it all is there in verses 6 and 7: our lives are like a silver cord that is snapped or a golden bowl that is broken—perhaps a cord that holds the bowl. It only takes one link of the cord to snap; it only takes one pulmonary embolism, perhaps, and all of a sudden, we’re like a piece of broken earthenware, or we’re like a deserted well.
In other words, it is an eloquent picture of the transience of the simplest routine tasks that we all do every day. There’s a last time coming for every journey, for every job done, and ultimately, from this perspective, it’s vanity. It’s like chasing the wind.
But, says Kidner wonderfully, bringing me to my final point, “Death has not yet reached out to us: let it rattle its chains at us and stir us [to] action!” It’s a great picture, isn’t it? The rattling of the chains. It’s like Macbeth, isn’t it, with the tolling of the bell? “Hear it not, [Macbeth], for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell.” You see, Shakespeare read his Bible.
So, the plea: “Remember your Creator.” The picture of the fading physical reality that will result in death. And then the punchline.
The punchline is there in verse 13: “Fear God and keep his commandments.” “Fear God and keep his commandments.” Now, in this closing little section—which is essentially an epilogue, a commentary on the book—the person who is observing what has gone on points out in verse 9 that the Professor or the Preacher has chosen his words carefully, that they are quite delightful—verse 10—and they are truthful. He observes in verse 12 that there are lots of books; it’s possible to be involved in constant research, it may make you weary in the end, and you may never find the answer to your question.
Therefore, it’s entirely fitting that the words of this wise man would be “like goads.” A goad was simply that long pointed stick that would be used, and is still used in places today, to prod an oxen or a beast of burden and to get it in the right direction. These words should have that kind of impact—a jabbing, striking impact. Or they should result in the same way as nails hammered into a wall will be there, embedded for a long time, so that the thoughts, the observations, would become that for the reader. And these words, and these goads, and these “collected sayings” are, he says, “given by one Shepherd”—which, if you know your Bible at all, should make you look back to the pictures in the Old Testament and look forward to the one who came to say, “I have come that you might have life, and have it in all of its fullness. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”
Ultimately, all the truth of the Bible funnels into the person of Jesus, and into his words and into his work. “So here’s the end of the matter,” he says. “This is it. All has been heard. This is the whole duty of man.” “This is the whole shooting match,” we might say. “Get this,” he says, “it’s vitally important.”
That makes me sit up. I think it probably makes you pay attention too. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it annoys some of us—if we say, “This is so presumptuous. This actually makes me angry. What do you mean, I’m supposed to ‘fear God’? I don’t want to fear God.”
Well, let me just point something out to you: to fear God is not to be frightened by God. To fear God is not to be frightened by God. You see, terror and fear of God, in terms of the frightening impact of what may happen to us, is the reaction of guilt in the face of God’s power and truthfulness and might. And it drives an individual only to run from God in despair. But when we actually come to fear God as he’s saying here, then we run to him; we don’t run from him.
Now, it is vitally important that we understand that, because that then helps us to wrestle with this notion of how the fear of God could deliver us from all our other fears: Fear of death. Fear that I have made such a royal mess of my life, that the burden is now insurmountable and can never be dealt with. Fear that I have done so many things that are displeasing to myself and to others, that I have no possibility of any reconciliation at all. No, no, no! The fear of God.
You see, tomorrow when the pipe band plays in Chagrin and fifteen other communities around here, we all know what they’re going to play. The bagpipes, yes, but they’re going to play “Amazing Grace.” And people will stand there, and some will bow, some will shed a little tear. And not one in a thousand will actually pay attention to what it was that Newton was saying when he wrote the hymn—will understand what he meant when he said, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” He was a slave trader. He was a bad man. His language was legendary throughout the merchant sailing fleets of England. He was notorious. He was a disaster. He was a pastor! He was a hymn writer! He wrote, “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear. It soothes [his] sorrows, heals [his] wounds, and drives away [his] fear.”
What was this fear that dealt with all his fears? The fear of God. The fear of God. Which is an awesome, reverential understanding of the magnificence of it—that the Creator has stepped down into time; that he is not simply a God who is up there and away, but he is a God who is here; that in Jesus, he is one who is touched with the very feelings of our infirmities.
And then, when we recognize this, we realize that I will never fear God until I become a child of God. For it is only his children who truly fear him. So then, that raises the question: What am I to do with my position before God? None of us will ever come to fear God without facing where we stand before God. Where do we stand before God? By nature, sinners. By nature, rebellious. By nature, indifferent. By nature, empty, on dead-end streets, trying to fill up the vacuum of our lives.
When we face up to that—when we realize that sin is the issue—then we understand why guilt is the problem. You see, because real guilt—not imaginary guilt—real guilt can only be dealt with by one person and dealt with in one place. A psychiatrist may help us deal with guilt feelings, but only Jesus can allow us to deal with real guilt. Why? Because the Shepherd of the sheep is the Lamb of God who bears away the sin and the guilt of the world—that Jesus came into the world to bear the guilt of my sin, to bear it under the judgment of God. He died my death to be my Savior; he was raised from the dead in order to be my Lord and King.
Can I ask you this morning, do you understand that? That you will be set free from your fears when you realize that God knows everything about you and has provided a way for you to become his child through faith in Jesus? Remember, as John begins his gospel, he says, “And Jesus came to his own and his own received him not. But to as many has received him, to them he gave power to become the children of God, even to those who believed in his name.” So in other words, there is a transaction involved in becoming his child. And it is as his child that I understand what it is to fear him.
What’s the transaction? Throughout the whole of the Bible: faith and repentance. Coming to God in faith, acknowledging my sinfulness, my emptiness; receiving from Jesus as a gift his forgiveness and his fullness. Turning away from sin in my mind, in my deeds, in my actions. And that reality is born in an individual’s heart when the individual realizes that when I come to Christ, I will receive not what I deserve, which is judgment, but I will receive mercy and forgiveness.
You say, “But wait a minute. Look at verse 14. We got a ‘judgment,’ and ‘every secret thing,’ and ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ How does this work?” I’ve told you many times that the way I get through a lot of this is with a decent hymnbook. But Augustus Toplady you know, because he wrote “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.” Now, here’s how you get verse 13 and 14 sorted out in your head: “From whence this fear and unbelief?” Why am I in this position? “Has not the Father put to grief his spotless Son for me?” Have I not come to receive in Christ forgiveness for my sin? “So will the righteous Judge of men condemn me for the debt of sin, which, Lord, was charged on thee?” That wouldn’t be right.
Complete atonement you have made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed;
Nor can his wrath on me take place,
If sheltered in his righteousness,
And sprinkled with his blood.
Turn then, my soul, unto your rest;
The merits of your great High Priest
Have bought you liberty;
Trust in his efficacious blood,
Nor fear your banishment from God,
Since Jesus died for thee.
This, loved ones, is the gospel: “Fear God.” In other words, trust God, love God, believe God, obey God, rest in God. And then you’ll want to please him. He’s your Father. The greatest fear in the life of the believer would be the fear that I disappoint my Father, not that my heavenly Father would come to pour out his wrath and punishment upon me. Why? Because he’s let me off? No! Because he poured his punishment on his dearly beloved Son. And that Son is the one who says, “Come to me, all [you] who are weary and heavy laden.”
I want to pause for a moment. I’m going to pray a prayer. And here is a prayer that you may have prayed, or something like this—perhaps never. Perhaps you’ll want to make it your own. So bow with me and let me pray, as if from your heart you are making this yours:
Lord Jesus Christ, I am so foolish. Give me your wisdom to see and follow your truth. Lord Jesus Christ, I am full of guilt and have no peace. But you have died to bring forgiveness and the assurance of pardon. I trust you to be my Savior, and by your grace, I turn away from sin. Lord Jesus Christ, I am weak and ruled by sin. Give me your power, and rule in my heart and over my whole life, forever and ever. Amen.
 Psalm 138:2 (ESV).
 Psalm 119:105 (paraphrased).
 2 Peter 1:12 (paraphrased).
 Ecclesiastes 1:3, 1:9, 1:14, etc. (ESV).
 Ecclesiastes 1:17, 8:16 (ESV).
 Ecclesiastes 2:12 (ESV).
 See Ecclesiastes 2:18–26.
 Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1965).
 Noel Gallagher, “Wonderwall” (1995).
 Ecclesiastes 3:11 (paraphrased).
 Ecclesiastes 11:8 (ESV).
 Psalm 88:15, 18 (paraphrased).
 Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence” (1964).
 Psalm 139:13 (paraphrased).
 Jonah 2:7, 2 (paraphrased).
 Song of Solomon 3:2 (ESV).
 Psalm 137:6 (ESV).
 John Fogerty, “Bad Moon Rising” (1969). Paraphrased.
 Ronald Reagan to the American people, Nov. 5. 1994, https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/sreference/reagan-s-letter-announcing-his-alzheimer-s-diagnosis.
 Dewayne Blackwell and Earl Bud Lee, “Friends in Low Places” (1989).
 Tim Hawkins, “All My Friends Have Hip Replacements.” Paraphrased.
 Derek Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1976), 104.
 William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Macbeth, 2.1.
 John 10:10–11 (paraphrased).
 John Newton, “Amazing Grace!” (1779).
 John Newton, “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” (1779).
 Hebrews 4:15 (paraphrased).
 John 1:29 (paraphrased).
 John 1:11–12 (paraphrased).
 Augustus Toplady, “From Whence This Fear and Unbelief.”
 Matthew 11:28 (ESV).