Life is short; the setting is complicated and confusing. There are difficulties and changes around every corner. The final chapter of Ecclesiastes is about keeping a proper perspective in the midst of these realities, distractions, and troubles. A person is encouraged to choose from his youth to live life as God’s gift because eventually his days will become characterized by difficulty and deterioration, finally ending in death.

Solomon’s epilogue gives a final exhortation and a warning, imploring the reader to let go of his/her compulsion to control everything. Instead, grab hold of one of the few things he/she can control—choice. Ecclesiastes has admonished us to fear God and keep His commands because that is the true path to fulfillment. The outcome for all other alternatives is a hand full of vapor, “hebel.” The real solution is to embrace the mystery that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and trust that His instructions are for our good.

Ecclesiastes 12:1-5

Solomon challenges the young to remember God with a perspective that embraces both the brevity of life and the certainty of judgment.

Ecclesiastes 12:6-7

Life is short and our opportunity for wise stewardship (on earth) will not last forever.

Ecclesiastes 12:8

The Preacher concludes by reasserting the elusiveness of complete understanding.

Ecclesiastes 12:9-10

The Preacher has carefully crafted words of truth in order to share them with God’s people, to invite them into wisdom in the face of mystery.

Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

Mastering wisdom brings integrity to life. But Solomon warns of endless writings and how study can be a distraction from fruitful living.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Solomon ends with an admonition to trust and obey God because this is what makes the most sense for our lives.