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The Problems of Old Age

12 Remember your ·Creator [or health]
    ·while you are young [L in the days of your youth],
before the days of ·trouble [evil] come
    and the years when you say,
    “I find no ·pleasure [delight] in them.”
When you get old,
    the light from the sun, moon, and stars will grow dark,
    and the rain clouds ·will never seem to go away [L return after the rain].
At that time ·your arms [L the guards of the house] will shake
    and ·your legs [L the landowners] will ·become weak [bend].
·Your teeth will fall out so you cannot chew [L The grinders cease because they are few; C women who grind grain],
    and ·your eyes will not see clearly [L those who look through the windows grow dim; C another group of women].
·Your ears will be deaf to the noise [L The doors are shut] in the streets,
    and ·you will barely hear the millstone grinding grain [L the sound of grinding decreases].
·You’ll wake up when a bird starts singing [L One rises at the sound of a bird],
    ·but you will barely hear singing [L and the daughters of song are brought low].
·You [L They] will fear high places
    and ·will be afraid to go for a walk [L the terrors of the street].
·Your hair will become white like the flowers on an almond tree [L The almond tree blossoms].
    ·You will limp along like a grasshopper when you walk [L The grasshopper drags itself along].
    Your ·appetite [or sexual desire] will be gone.
Then ·you will [L people] go to ·your [L their] everlasting home [C the grave],
    and ·people will go to your funeral [L mourners walk around in the street].

Soon ·your life will snap like a silver chain [L the silver thread will be snapped]
    ·or break like a golden bowl [L and the golden bowl will be crushed].
·You will be like a broken pitcher at a spring [L The jar will be broken by the well],
    ·or a broken wheel at a well [L and the wheel crushed by the cistern; C metaphors of death].
·You will turn back into the dust of the earth again [L The dust will return to the earth as it was],
    ·but your [L and the] spirit will return to God who gave it [3:21; Gen. 2:7; 3:19].

Everything is useless [1:2]!
The ·Teacher [or Preacher; L Assembler; 1:1] says that everything is useless [1:2].

Conclusion: Honor God

The ·Teacher [or Preacher; L Assembler; 1:1] was ·wise [a wise man/sage] and taught the people ·what he knew [L knowledge]. He ·very carefully thought about [L heard], ·studied [investigated], and set in order many ·wise teachings [L proverbs]. 10 The ·Teacher [or Preacher; L Assembler; 1:1] ·looked for just the right words [L sought to find words of delight] and to write what is ·dependable [honest] and true.

11 Words from wise people are like ·sharp sticks used to guide animals [goads]. They are like nails that have been driven in firmly. Altogether they are wise teachings that come from ·one Shepherd [or a shepherd]. 12 So be ·careful [warned], my son. ·People are always writing [There is no end to the making of many] books, and too much study ·will make you tired [wearies the body].

13 Now, the end of the matter; everything has been heard:
·Honor [Fear] God [Prov. 1:7] and obey his commands,
    because this is ·all people must do [L the whole duty of humanity].
14 God will ·judge everything [L bring every deed into judgment],
    even ·what is done in secret [every hidden thing],
the good and the evil.

12 Remember(A) your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble(B) come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,
    and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
    and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
    and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;(C)
when people are afraid of heights
    and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home(D)
    and mourners(E) go about the streets.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns(F) to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God(G) who gave it.(H)

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.[a](I)
    “Everything is meaningless!(J)

The Conclusion of the Matter

Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs.(K) 10 The Teacher(L) searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.(M)

11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails(N)—given by one shepherd.[b] 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.(O)

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God(P) and keep his commandments,(Q)
    for this is the duty of all mankind.(R)
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,(S)
    including every hidden thing,(T)
    whether it is good or evil.

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 12:8 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 9 and 10
  2. Ecclesiastes 12:11 Or Shepherd

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