Solomon had the time and resources to test a lot of different philosophies concerning the meaning of life. His conclusion? Life is a gift from God with the possibility of great joy and fulfillment, or great sorrow and emptiness. The choice is ours.
I’d like to talk to you young people who read this blog. Solomon has quite a lot to say about youth, and I pray you will allow God to speak to you through the king’s words.
The imagery Solomon uses in chapter 12 to describe old age is kind of funny. Without saying the words, he draws a picture of, well… me. I’m not exactly there yet, really. But I see the signs!
Trembling arms and hands, stooped shoulders, false teeth, dimming vision, shaking voices, grey hair, and a fear of falling. Read the words Solomon uses and see if you can see these things there. And here’s what Solomon tells us: That’s exactly what every one of you can expect in the future. It’s life. We all start out young… and end up old if God gives us enough years. So, he says, remember your Creator before your youth is gone.
I spent a lot of time with young people in my 37 years as an educator, as a Junior High Sunday School teacher, a Bible quiz coach. And I’ve heard more than one child say that they planned to “live” while they were young; that they’d do the Christian thing when they were a bit older. What they were looking for was permission to sin.
But is that what Solomon advises? Warren Wiersbe, in his Bible study book on Ecclesiastes (Be Satisfied, SP Publications, 1990) says this on page 130:
“The best way to have a happy adult life and a contented old age is to get a good start early in life and avoid things that will bring trouble later on.”
Young people, dark days are coming. Solomon would advise you to start building a good foundation today, while you are still young, while you still have the energy and ability, so that when trouble comes you will be able to stand firm. You don’t build a foundation after the house is built.
You see, Scripture tells us to be holy as God is holy. It doesn’t say start being holy on your thirtieth birthday. It tells us to resist the devil, come out from among them and be separate. It doesn’t say run with the devil and blend in with the world until you get it out of your system. Obedience is demanded for all of God’s children.
That means you.
I don’t envy you. It was hard for me to be holy and resist the devil while I was growing up in the sixties and seventies. And I know it’s hard for you today because you are being bombarded with lies that people accept as truth. Do you even know what truth is any more? I pray you do.
I will tell you that I wasn’t always successful being holy as a youth. There were temptations I fell for. But I want you to know that decades later, I am still carrying some of the consequences of those sins. Memories haunt. Regrets are real.
There are people I know who are suffering from diseases that are results of choices they made in their youth, some who are battling addictions that began while they were in school, some who are in toxic relationships, some who were never able to realize their dreams because of those momentary “pleasures.”
God doesn’t want that for you. He wants to give you a life that has meaning, and joy, and fulfillment, free of the baggage that comes from a misspent youth. And trust me. Some of that baggage can be really heavy. So don’t pack it with garbage.
Solomon’s final conclusion, after all of his searching for meaning is this:
Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.
Do you have a healthy fear of God, understanding that He is Holy, and demands holiness of you? Do you revere Him, honor Him, obey Him knowing He could crush you at any moment? Or do you think of Him as your buddy, your pal, your kindly grandpa whose bark is worse than His bite?
Fearing God causes us to obey Him, to take Him seriously when He says He hates sin and punishes every single sin with death. Not just the sins of old people. Your sin comes with a death sentence, too.
The crazy thing about that kind of fear is that it brings joy, peace, purpose. Wiersbe quotes Oswald Chambers on page 135 of Be Satisfied:
“The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
Oh dear young person. Think ahead. As Solomon was concluding his book he tells us six times to enjoy life while we can. He never tells us to enjoy sin. There is a difference.
You are in the prime of life. You can do almost anything you set your mind to do, you have opportunities surrounding you that I couldn’t have imagined when I was your age. And God wants you to enjoy every minute, go through every door He opens for you.
Take Him with you. You might not be the most popular kid on the soccer team if you don’t join in on the trash talk, or risky behavior (sin). But then again, those kids aren’t building your foundation. You are. One choice at a time.
I’m praying for you.