International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday October 16, 2011
Purpose: To discover how wisdom helps us understand our life experiences
Scripture Text: Ecclesiastes 11:9-10; 12:1-7, 13 (NRSV)
(9)Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. (10)Banish anxiety from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.
(1)Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; (2)before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain; (3)in the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly; (4)when the doors on the street are shut, and 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; (5)when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets; (6)before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, (7)and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it.
Ecclesiastes 12: 13
(13)The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
As you read our text it appears to be full of contradictions and hard understand, however it contains a lot of good advice and wisdom, and also paints a picture of life that most of us can relate to.
It begins by addressing the young; the advice is there are some things that only the young can do; enjoy that part of your life. You will never be any more athletic or energetic than you are in your youth. Set yourself some goals and try to achieve them, go for the things that will bring you joy, follow your dreams. But remember while you are setting your goals and following your dreams, that you are accountable to God. He will hold you accountable for the way you pursue your dreams and goals as well as how you treat your fellow man during the journey. Most of all, the teacher wants you to live a stress free life. When we are young we think there is pressure on us to accomplish something and to be successful as the world measures success. As we grow older we experience a different kind of pressure. We have our family, our parents, our possessions, and our health, that bring about anxiety that the youth cannot imagine. The anxieties of our youth seem almost frivolous when we look back. The writer says, “for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.” Or we would say it is but a mist or foggy memory.
In Chapter 12 the writer encourages the young to establish a relationship with their creator when they are young, then as the troubles of life come in our latter years we have a relationship with the Creator to fall back on. Bringing God into our life when we are young helps us to withstand the trials and tribulations that come with our old age.
How often do you hear the elderly say why? What is the sense of old age? Indeed in visiting, many of the elderly question their value and worth. “There is no pleasure in them.”
The picture of old age painted by the writer of Ecclesiastes is like a decaying estate or home. Notice how everything and everybody seems to be falling apart and decaying before our eyes. Work has ceased, the eyes have dimmed, the hearing is gone, the music isn't what it used to be, and sleep is interrupted by a bird’s song. Our hair turns white (almond tree reference) the sex drive is gone, (grasshopper dragging). Death then comes and several images are given, (the silver cord is snapped, the golden bowl, pitcher and wheel are all broken.) Notice that even in a culture that did not believe in life after death, while the body returns to dust, “the breath returns to God who gave it.” In the story of creation God breathed life into man; some think that is why we each have a soul, which soul is returned to God.
In the end, after everything has been said, the importance of fearing God and keeping his commandments is the most important thing we can do whether young or old.