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Sabbath School Lessons on Ecclesiastes
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 13: The Conclusion of the Matter *
Introduction: So many times in this series of studies we have worried
that Solomon's advice was not exactly right because he seemed to
leave God and eternal life out of the picture. This week, in the
concluding chapter, King Solomon strongly appeals to us to remember
to put God in the center of our thinking and planning. Let's dive
right into our study!
- Remember Your Creator
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:1. Presumably you have more trouble
with your memory when you are old. What does Solomon mean
when he tells us to "remember" God when we are young?
(Solomon is telling us to make God part of our planning
from the very beginning.)
- Do you recall the story of the farmer and the
laborers that came at different times of the day
( Matthew 20:1-15)? All of the workers received the
same pay whether they started work in the morning or
started just before quitting time. If you knew about
this payment plan, when would you start work? (You
all answer, "Just before quitting time!")
- The story of the farmer and the laborers is a parable
about salvation. Given your answer as to when you
would show up for work, why should we determine that
we will "remember" (work for God) beginning in our
youth? (King Solomon is now towards the end of his
life and he realizes how much better his life would
have been had he walked in God's ways the entire
- Almost everyone I know (who is not retired)speaks fondly
of retiring and the "golden years." Look at the last half
of Ecclesiastes 12:1, how does Solomon describe the
"golden years?" (He calls them "days of trouble" in which
he finds "no pleasure.")
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:2. Solomon begins his explanation of
the reasons why he calls the "golden years" "days of
trouble." Will a time come when the sun, moon and stars
grow dark? Will they fail at some point? (Solomon is not
talking about the sun burning out, he is talking about our
eyesight growing dim with age.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:3. What aspects of old age is Solomon
describing here? (You shake and tremble with age. You
stoop and you cannot do the kind of heavy work you used to
be able to do.)
- I had a great-uncle who was remarkably powerful. I
recall that when he was 75 he had huge wrists and
powerful arms. Except for losing his hair, he seemed
to defy age. Finally age and illness closed in and
he, too, became frail and weak.
- "Do you use a paste that's past? Are your choppers at
half-mast? Use the paste that lets you grin. Gumbo
keeps your grinders in." This little limerick raises
an issue about what Solomon means. When Solomon
speaks about the few "grinders," is he referring to
- When he refers to those "looking through the
windows," is he referring to our eyesight?
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:4. Why would you close your doors
just because you are aging? (Solomon may be describing a
couple of things. He may be saying that you close the
doors because you feel vulnerable as you get older. More
likely, he is talking about the loss of hearing. Have you
ever noticed how the "street sounds" dim when you close
the door to your house? Since Solomon says the sounds of
work and the songs of the birds grow dim with time, I
think he is talking about the loss of hearing that comes
with old age.)
- Why would old people get up with the birds, even
though they cannot hear them very well? (They get up
early because they cannot sleep.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:5. What else departs with old age?
(We become fearful of falling, we are afraid of things
that did not previously cause us fear. We lose our ability
to jump around ("grasshopper drags") and our sex drive
drives off ("desire is no longer stirred"). No wonder
Solomon says about this time of life, (Ecclesiastes
12:1)"I find no pleasure in them.")
- Why is Solomon writing about almond trees blossoming?
(Almond blossoms are white - which is the color of
your hair. Which you have, if you are lucky.)
- What is the final stage of life described in
Ecclesiastes 12:5. (You die and people mourn as they
take you to the graveyard.)
- At this point, has Solomon whetted your appetite for those
- If you are "wishing your life away," you should stop
it and enjoy life now!
- Other than discouraging us about getting old, what is
Solomon's point? (When we are young, we have the time,
strength and mental ability to prepare for a life of
service to God and others. How many young people waste
their youth, putting pleasure before everything else, and
before they know it they are old and unqualified?)
- The End of Your Time
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:6. What is all of this talk about
severed silver cords, broken golden bowls, shattered
pitchers and broken well wheels? (Solomon is writing about
our death. Have you ever noticed how people avoid saying
that someone died? They will use phrases like "passed
away." One of my favorites is used in the Salvation Army.
They say, "promoted to glory." Solomon uses some of the
most beautiful euphemisms for death.)
- What does Solomon want us to do before we die?
(Remember our Creator.)
- What does this suggest to someone who has wasted
their youth? (That it is never too late to turn
to God. Solomon starts out ( Ecclesiastes 12:1)
by telling us to "remember" our Creator when we
are young. But, if we fail to do that, at least
"remember" Him before you die.)
- Let's add Ecclesiastes 12:7 to verse 6 and read them
together. What two components does Solomon suggest make up
our being? (Our body returns to dirt and our breath
returns to God.)
- Does this description of our "disassembly" at death
remind you of another text in the Bible? (Read
Genesis 2:7. The Bible clearly teaches that the body
is nothing without the breath of God to make it come
- What Lesson to Learn?
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:8. Why does Solomon wind up his book
the same way he started ( Ecclesiastes 1:2)? (He hasn't
changed his mind about everything being "hebel"
(temporary, a breath), since he just ended on the note of
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:9-10. This sounds to me like the
teacher died and someone else is making an endorsement of
what he wrote. However, none of the commentaries I
consulted agreed with me. Why should we listen to the
teacher, Solomon? (He was wise, he researched and
considered his teachings, people learned from him, he
tried to write in an interesting, attractive way, and what
he wrote was true.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:11. Do you like to step on a nail? Do
you like to be prodded? Do you enjoy a stick in your eye?
Why does Solomon compare his words to those things?
(Hearing wisdom, hearing the truth persuasively presented,
should prod us into action. Once we know the truth and
understand wisdom, we can assemble our life with it (like
nails). Wisdom helps hold us together in tough times.)
- What does Solomon mean by his reference to "one
Shepherd?" (God. Solomon claims divine inspiration
for his words.)
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:12. After telling us that he did all
of this research before writing his book, how can Solomon
sound so anti-intellectual? Is he telling us not to read
and study? (No. He is telling us to beware of wisdom that
does not come from God. There is God-inspired wisdom and
then there is everything else. Don't get tired studying
- Read Ecclesiastes 12:13-14. Is this a summary of the
entire book of Ecclesiastes? (Solomon says it is.)
- What is the conclusion? (Acknowledge God and obey
- Why? (A judgment is coming.)
- How is this a summary of Ecclesiastes when so
much of it seemed to ignore anything beyond life
here? (Solomon's point is that life is
temporary. It is not always logical. Bad things
happen to good people sometimes. Good things
happen to bad people sometimes. During our brief
time here we should obey God for He has an
ultimate judgment. Ultimate judgment would make
no sense without an ultimate reward!)
- Friend, will you accept the advice of Solomon? Will you
agree today to acknowledge and obey God?
- Next week: "The Voice From Heaven." We start a new series about
the Bible itself.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.