WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 16, 2011
LIFE WORTH LIVING
(You’re never too old to remember your CREATOR)
(Ecclesiastes 11 & 12)
In Ecclesiastes chapters 11 & 12, King Solomon concludes his exploration into human ethics as he teaches on generosity and diligence, and also, gives a final bit of advice to the young, on how they should pursue a life that incorporates the will of GOD. He says that generosity and diligence in our youth will pay off handsomely when we are old. Also, Solomon says that it is a bad idea to put off the things in our youth for a later date that can and should, be done today. If we wait for prefect conditions, then nothing will ever get done (Ecclesiastes 11:1-4).
The ways of GOD are oftentimes hard to discern. HIS ways can be as elusive and invisible as the wind, and as mysterious as a child being formed in a mother’s womb. We shouldn’t waste time trying to figure GOD out, but rather, we should only concentrate on that which HE reveals to us in HIS word. We should stay busy, experimenting and utilizing the wide variety of methods which GOD has provided for us to live and survive by. Otherwise, a person will never know what their niche in life is, and just how GOD wants us to use those provisions to serve HIM through our, pre-ordained, personal gifts and talents (Ecclesiastes 11:5-6).
In Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8, Solomon, for the most part, urges us to rejoice in our youth, through “responsible living”. In fact, this passage can actually be divided into three sections. The first section, 11:7-8, is a call for us to enjoy life, even in the view of impending death. In this section, Solomon writes metaphorically of “light” and “darkness” as elements of “life” and “death”. Here he encourages his readers to enjoy life as it comes, because “life” is like “the pleasant light of the sun”, and it should be enjoyed before “the coming darkness of night”, or “death”. Here Solomon is writing from the Old Testament perspective that “the grave”, for the most part, was considered one’s eternal home.
In the second section, 11:9-10, Solomon urges that our “enjoyment of life” start during our youth, because our formative years can get away from us very quickly. However, he also warns that our enjoyment must be resigned to “responsible living”, because ultimately, everyone is answerable to GOD. All of mankind will have to make an account to GOD for the deeds done in his or her lifetime.
In the third section, 12:1-7, Solomon stresses the importance of the “responsible enjoyment” of youth, because “old age”, is a time of increasing erosion and corrosion of one’s personal skills and physical body, which will ultimately culminate in death. We should honor GOD while we are still in our youth, and are still able to enjoy life and serve GOD to the fullest. We should worship and serve GOD with our “best self”, instead of waiting until we are all used up, and can offer HIM only “what is left of us”. Solomon brilliantly uses this description of death to motivate “responsible living in our youth”. It is, in effect, a reversal of Creation, as our spirit returns to GOD WHO gave it, and we are, in the end, judged by HIM.
Because the “Teacher”, Solomon, was wise, he taught the people everything that he knew about life. He collected and classified many proverbs. He taught the plain truth, and, he did it in a rather interesting way. A wise teacher’s words can spur a student to action, especially when those words emphasize important truths. These collected adages of Solomon can guide us like a shepherd, and lead us to success in the biblical sense.
We have to be careful not to be overly concerned about our success in the worldly sense. Remember, success in GOD’s eyes is far different from what is deemed success in the world’s eyes. We have to be successful in GOD’s eyes before we can enjoy eternal life with HIM in Heaven. Success in GOD’s eyes comes when we realize the purpose for which we came into the world, and that is to serve GOD with all that HE has given us.
There is no end to the worldly advice and opinions that are expressed to us daily, throughout our lifetime. And if we study them too much, we can very easily exhaust all of our remaining days sorting through them, and still end up needing GOD in our life to achieve the right kind of success. To be successful in the only way that counts, we have to fear GOD enough to want to obey HIM, starting in our youth, and in the end, GOD will judge us for everything that we do, including every secret thing, be it good, or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:9-14).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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