Chapter 11

11.1-6 employment. One of the arenas of life that hebel can rub a person the wrong way is their employment. As one person said, it is so daily. The daily grind of work can become hebel very quickly. In these verses, Solomon is instructing about the uncertainty of work. Four times Solomon says “thou knoweth not”. The encouragement here in reference to our life work is to not give in to the frustrations of hebel. The persistent work done daily will bring positive results even if there are moments or extended periods of frustration. The single blow of an ax will not topple an oak tree. The second or third blow, may seem pointless. If you continue to strike the oak, eventually it will fall. Solomon is saying keep sowing, ignore the clouds, forget about the wind, just keep working and good things will come to you. This is the formula to conquer hebel in your work. Cast your bread (finished product of work), not your seed, upon the waters (life), and somehow it returns in blessing.

11.7-10 light and darkness. Solomon is approaching the end of his thoughts on hebel. While finishing his thoughts on labor and work he speaks of light and darkness. This is more than light and darkness at face value. Light speaks of illumination and darkness speaks of misery. In the larger picture of hebel (vanity), Solomon here uses the imperative mood. He is commanding rather than suggesting. Solomon is strongly admonishing the youth to enjoy life before the onset of feeble years he will address in chapter 12. There will be many days of darkness. There will be days of calamity and defeat. The joy of life will at times not come easy. Solomon is instructing young men to wrestle joy and happiness from life. Hebel (vanity), never raises the white flag of surrender. It is work in another profound sense to remove sorrow (vexation, anger) from your heart and evil (adversity, grief, misery), from your flesh. The closing command is to keep working in your natural sense, while continuing to work on the inward hebel that would bring you down and destroy the joy of life. When a man is truly illuminated he will escape the darkness of inner misery. Illumination (light), is the deliverer from hebel.

Chapter 12

12.1-7 youth and old age. While describing old age, Solomon is addressing the youthful man. He is warning the young man of what is coming. The darkening of the celestial bodies speaks of declining energy and vitality. The approaching clouds speak of the storms of life and old age. The keepers of the house are the arms, they become feeble and weak. The strong men are the legs that become bowed and weak. The grinders are the teeth that are lost in old age. Those that look out of the window are the eyes and vision fades. Rising at the voice of the bird is loss of sleep. The daughters of music brought low is the loss of hearing. The almond tree is a reference to the white hair of old age. The grasshopper speaks of failed joints that hobble elderly people into painful gaits, limping through their final years. Death is visioned as the shattering of a golden bowl. The pitcher used to hold things from the well (deep things of life), is broken. This is possibly a reference to dementia and memory loss. Solomon paints a realistic picture of life as man approaches the golden years so called. Finally the man himself returns to the original state of dust from which he began. The final cycle of hebel has finished it’s rotation through life. Through all of this Solomon instructs the young man to always remember his creator, for your creator will be patiently waiting for you when you finish your course.

12.9-11 the writer. Solomon describes himself for all future generations. He is not a skeptic or a cynic. He is not an embittered old man. He is acknowledging life as it really is. It is hebel to the last day on this earth. He is giving wisdom and acceptable words to balance hebel. His words are words of truth. His words are as goads to prod men in life when they are tempted to stop. His proverbs and principals are nails fastened by masters of assemblies (collections of wisdom). This speaks of truths proven on many battlefields of life. These timeless lessons are from one shepherd, God himself. Ultimately these life lessons are from God. They are divine instruction on how to live life and enjoy the gift of life from God himself.

12.12-14 conclusion. God has not answered every problem of life. God has commanded man to live joyfully, responsibly, and wisely. The controlling essence of life should be the fear of God. Submit yourself to God and follow the principles he revealed here in Ecclesiastes. This is the best life man can live before the moment he faces God in judgment.

Thanks for reading today…