Ecclesiastes 12:6
Remember Him before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is crushed, before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel is broken at the well,
Sermons
An Old Sermon for Young HearersC. S. Robinson, D. D.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
Days of YouthHomilistEcclesiastes 12:1-7
Early PietyW. Barrow, LL. D.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
Human LifeHomilistEcclesiastes 12:1-7
On the Advantages of an Early PietyJ. Tillotson, D. D.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
Preparation for Old AgeH. W. Beecher.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
Remember Thy CreatorW. Whale.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
Remembering GodG. A. Gordon.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
The Creator RememberedD. J. Burrell, D. D.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
The Creator RememberedH. M. Booth, D. D.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
The Creator RememberedMonday Club SermonsEcclesiastes 12:1-7
The Days of Thy YouthJ. P. Chown.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
The Duty and Advantages of Early PietyJ. Jortin, D. D.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
The Irreligious YouthS. Martin.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
The Remembrance of Our CreatorChristian ObserverEcclesiastes 12:1-7
The Warning not to Forget GodR. Newton, D. D.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
The Young Man's TaskH. Smith.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
Young Persons Exhorted to Remember Their CreatorSketches of Four Hundred SermonsEcclesiastes 12:1-7
Youthful Piety: Described and InculcatedW. Mudge, B. A.Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
Old Age and DeathD. Thomas Ecclesiastes 12:2-7
Death, its Meaning and its MoralW. Clarkson Ecclesiastes 12:5-7
Whatever be the true interpretation of the three preceding verses, there is no doubt at all as to the Preacher's meaning in the text; he has death in his view, and he suggests to us -

I. ITS CERTAINTY. Childhood must pass into youth, and youth into prime, and prime into old age - into the days which are bereaved of pleasure (ver. 1); and old age must end in death. Of all the tableaux which human life presents to us, the last one is that of "the mourners going about the streets." Other evils may be shunned by sedulous care and unusual sagacity, but death is the evil which no man may avoid.

II. ITS MEANING. What does death mean when it comes?

1. It means a shock to those that are left behind. The mourners in the street express in their way the sadness which is afflicting the hearts of those who weep within the walls. Here and there a death occurs which disturbs no peace and troubles no heart. But almost always it comes with a shock and an inward inexpressible pain to those who are bereaved. Even in old age the hearts of near kindred and dear friends are troubled with a keen and real distress.

2. It means separation. Man "goes to his long home." They who are left go to their darkened home, and he who is taken goes to his long home, to dwell apart and alone, to revisit no more the familiar places, and look no more into the faces of his friends. They and he henceforth must dwell apart; the grave is always a very long distance from the old home.

3. It means loss. The loss of the beautiful or the useful, or of both together. "Our life may have been like a golden lamp suspended by silver chains, fit for the palace of a king, and- may have shed a welcome and a cheerful light on every side; but even the durable costly chain will be snapped at last, and the beautiful 'bowl be broken.' Our life may have been like 'the bucket' dropped by village maidens into the village fountain, or like the ' wheel' by which water is drawn from the village well, - it may have conveyed a vital refreshment to many lips; but the day must come when the bucket will be shattered on the marble edge of the fountain, and the timeworn wheel drop into the well" (Cox). The most beautiful life vanishes from our sight; the most useful life is taken away.

4. It means dissolution. "The dust shall return to the earth as it was." Our body, however fair and strong it may be, however trained, clothed, adorned, admired, must return to "dust and ashes," must be resolved into the elements from which it was constructed.

5. It means departure. "The spirit shall return unto God who gave it." This is by far the most solemn view of death. At death we "return to God" (see Psalm 90:3). Not, indeed, that we are ever far from him (see Acts 17:27; Psalm 139:3-5). We stand and live in his very near presence. Yet does there come an hour - the hour of death - when we shall consciously stand before our Divine Judge, and when we shall learn from him "our high estate" or our lasting doom (2 Corinthians 5:10). Death means departure from the sphere of the visible and tangible into the close and conscious presence of the eternal God.

III. ITS MORAL. The one great lesson which stands out from this eloquent description is this: Be the servant of God always; take care to know him and to serve him at the end, by learning of him at the beginning, and serving him throughout your life. Remember your Creater in youth, and he will acknowledge you when old age is lost in death, and death has introduced you to the judgment-scene. Happy is that human soul that has drawn into itself Divine truth with its earliest intelligence, and that has ordered its life by the Divine will from first to last; for then shall the end of earth be full of peace and hope, and the beginning of eternity be full of joy and of glory. - C.







The almond-tree shall flourish. &&&
In January, Palestine is adorned with the blossoming of the almond-tree. It breathes its life into that winter month as a promise of God sometimes lightens up and sweetens the coldness and desolation of a sorrowing spirit. When the almond-tree was in full bloom, it must have looked like some tree before our window on a winter's morning, after a nightfall of snow, when its brightness is almost insufferable, every stem a white and feathery plume. Now you are ready to see the meaning of the text. Solomon was giving a full-length portrait of an aged man. By striking figures of speech, he sets forth his trembling and decrepitude, and then comes to describe the whiteness of his locks by the blossoming of the almond. tree. It is the master-touch of the picture, for I see in that one sentence not only the appearance of the hair, but an announcement of the beauty of old age. The white locks of a bad man are but the gathered frosts of the second death, but "a hoary head is a crown of glory" if it be found in the way of righteousness. There may be no colour in the cheek, no lustre in the eye, no spring in the step, no firmness in the voice, and yet around the head of every old man whose life has been upright and Christian there hovers a glory brighter than ever shook in the white tops of the almond-tree. If the voice quiver, it is because God is changing it into a tone fit for the celestial choral. If the hand tremble, it is because God is unloosing it from worldly disappointments to clasp it on ringing harp and waving palm. If the hair has turned, it is only the grey light of heaven's dawn streaming through the scant locks. The falling of this aged Christian's staff will be the signal for the heavenly gate to swing open. The scattering of the almond blossoms will only discover the setting of the fruit.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Because man goeth to his long home
Man is on his way to a long home: his lot in his long home will be determined by the manner in which he walks that homeward way; therefore, in his homeward walk he ought to "remember his Creator in the days of his youth," and to "fear God" all his life long. It might be made to run thus: Live wisely that you may die happily. Live obediently unto God in this world that you may live joyfully with God in the next world.

I. THE HOME-GOING. "Man goeth home." He does not enter it by a sudden leap or bound, but he is, as on a journey, continuously progressing nearer and nearer to it. This is life — a constant home-going. There are what we may call years of preparation for the conscious start. When the infant first breathes these mortal airs; when the child is growing in stature and developing in mind and soul, scarcely thinking, or even knowing that, right on before, there lies an eternal destiny; and when the youth is just catching the faint glimmerings of consciousness as to duty and responsibility, and the need for heroic spiritual efforts — then is the time of a silent equipment, physically and morally, for entering on the hard, rough way of the homeward journey. And only at its close is the thought borne in on the soul that life is not to be considered as an automatic, purposeless thing, but is a well-marked and controllable progression which ends somewhere in a "long home." When that thought is first clearly and earnestly realized by a boy or girl, then the real conscious start in the home-going is made. It usually happens, if not earlier, when the young people are in their teens. They can, at the very outset, if only they will, bound forward and gain splendid spiritual lengths. They have ardent affections, they have burning enthusiasms, which can go out untrammelled to what is highest and best. They have not yet entangled themselves with evil habits which have to be sternly battled with before they can be flung off. They have not yet come under the burden of life's many cares, which sometimes make the feet heavy and slow in the heavenward way. Are your eyes dimmer, or your ears duller, or your limbs feebler, or your appetites blunter, or your hair whiter and scantier, or your soul less enthusiastic than in other days? Then, these are the Divine monitors telling that you are not to be always here — that, in your progressive home-going, you are fast ripening for the final exit.

II. THE LONG HOME. "Man goeth to his long home," or, as the Hebrew has it, to "his house of eternity." Used by other and earlier writers, this may have been only a synonym for the grave; but more than this was meant by the writer of our text, for in ver. 7 he speaks of "the dust returning to the dust as it was, and the spirit returning to God who gave it." So the "long home" in his mind was, for the body the grave, and for the spirit an existence within the veil. May we not, therefore, think of man's "long home" as having an outer and an inner court? The outer court is the grave. That is the "long home" to which our bodies are daily, hourly, going — our poor bodies, which we deck and pamper, and on which we bestow such thought and care. The inner court is within the veil. And back from it, when the spirit enters, there is no returning to these earthly scenes. It is "our house of eternity" — an eternal home. About that unseen world we know so little that it is not wise to say much.

III. THE MOURNERS LEFT BEHIND. When a man enters the long bright home, he receives the "Welcome home!" of the Saviour and of all the blessed. But his home-going throws a shadow on the earth: it causes an aching void, a bitter lamentation. "The mourners go about the street." Rather since they have gone to join in "the song of them that feast," ought we not to strive to catch the blessed infection of their celestial joy, and put on festal robes, and sing hymns of triumph over their departure? This is what we would do were the Christian hope and faith sure and strong within us. This is what we are asked to do. Listen, my mourning friends, listen! Your Saviour speaks to you, and says, Your loved ones have but come to their bright long home with Me. "Then why make ye this ado, and weep?"

(T. Young, B. D.)

By some scholars "long home" is translated "enduring house," or "perpetual house." It seems to them that the writer looked upon earth as the embodiment of the perishable, and that beyond the earth man passes into the unchangeable. This world is the place where silver cords are loosed; and golden bowls broken, and where the mourners go about the streets; beyond this all these dissolving views cease, and the spirit dwells amid the eternal. Its house is for ever, its love is for ever, its life is like that of God. I shall ask you to think upon this idea of "an eternal house" for man. Now that science is indirectly assailing this future house — assailing it by placing man among the mere productions of Nature, among the plants and the fishes and the birds — it becomes us all to place as against such a form of science the longings of the mind, and to find in the soul's yearnings an antidote to the coldness of materialism. We must array spirit against dust. All that materialism rests upon is an analogy: the tree dies, the insect dies, the bird and the fish die, and therefore man dies and becomes nothing. But spiritualism can summon as good an analogy. It can say God lives. He passes on from age to age, and hence man passes onward parallel with this Maker. This argument assumes only the existence of a God. With that datum all becomes easy, for man sustains a closer resemblance to Deity than to the tree, the bird, the fish. He is an image of God, and hence analogy places man in the Divine class rather than in the mundane class, and makes man a partaker of the long being of Deity rather than of the short career of the vegetable or brute world. The analogy of man and God is as rational as the analogy of man and dust. All we need do in order to escape the annihilation inferred from material philosophy is to place man in the category of spirit, and then claim for him a parallelism with Deity. We shall not, however, argue the question of immortality. We design only to ask our hearts to ponder upon the idea of the "eternal house" of man, and see how grand it is, and what a bracing atmosphere surrounds it. No one carrying such a mind and soul as man is endowed with has any right to move along through these formative years without enveloping himself in the best possible atmosphere of truth, or of dream at least, if positive truth refuse to come. As invalids flee from low, damp valleys to climb up into mountain air, that their blood may find pure nutriment and flow with new life, so the soul and intellect born into the valley of ignorance should fly from the miasma, and seek mountain heights of belief and hope. There is no one reflection which has so commended the "eternal house" to me as the thought that this house is transient — painfully, almost unjustly transient. The children of earth are so pitilessly swept away into the tomb, with all their friendships and studies and arts and happiness and longings, that we are plunged into deep wonderment whether there is a God of love and wisdom all around this earth, as close as its atmosphere, and warm as the tropic sunshine. To preserve to us the idea of God comes this idea of the "perpetual house," an idea born out of the tears of earth, as a rose out of rain. Almost all that is valuable in this world lies back of its present living souls. The heroes that live are but a handful to the heroes that are gone. All the arts we now enjoy are the fruits of intellects and souls that have gone away. Our state was purchased for us by hands that have dissolved into dust. All the ministers of religion now living are not equal in power to the one Christ who died at Jerusalem eighteen hundred years ago. What has become of this sublime past — this past whose temples of law and art and worship are crumbling by the Nile, and by the great sea, and by the Tiber, and are covered with old ivy in England? There is but one answer worthy of our minds or our hearts: and that is, that this impressive human race has been called not to oblivion, but to its "Eternal House." These phenomena of earth, this great past display of intellect and love and learning and wisdom and morals, belong not to the realm of material, but to the realm of the Divine; and hence, as God reaches over ages, and is not subject to decay and annihilation, so He draws His children along after Him to His perpetual mansion. This is the only solution of man's being that does not make reason and morals and education and hope all unmeaning terms, and does not make the human soul a sounding brass full of noise without music. The words of the text, "eternal house," not only recall to mind a lost past to be provided for, but they awaken in our mind thoughts about the future. Our earth will some time cease to be habitable by man. As its geologic forms show that it did once at least become uninhabitable, and by perhaps some sudden extinguishment of the sun did become a globe of ice such that the great mammals were frozen to death as they stood; and as at some other epoch this same little globe did all melt and become liquid as a globule of molten iron, so again in the coming centuries it will cease, suddenly or slowly, to be the home of man, and nowhere upon its whole surface will there remain even a Selkirk for its deep solitude. It must be that from a star of such vicissitudes, from a star where death comes in a few years to all, and where it came in thirty-three years to such a being as Jesus Christ, and from which one hundred and fifty times all the dear hearts upon it have been swept away, the Creator is transferring these ephemeral myriads to a more lasting home. There must be, somewhere, a "perpetual house," into which we shall all fall when the earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved.

(D. Swing.)

I. CONSIDER THE DEATH OF INDIFFERENT PERSONS; if any can be called indifferent to whom we are so nearly allied as brethren by nature, and brethren in mortality. When we observe the funerals that pass along the streets, or when we walk along the monuments of death, the first thing that naturally strikes us is the undistinguishing blow with which that common enemy levels all. One day, we see carried along the coffin of the smiling infant; the flower just nipped as it began to blossom in the parents' view; and the next day, we behold a young man, or young woman, of blooming form and promising hopes, laid in an untimely grave. While the funeral is attended by a numerous, unconcerned company, who are discoursing to one another about the news of the day, or the ordinary affairs of life, let our thoughts rather follow to the house of mourning, and represent to themselves what is going on there. There, we should see a disconsolats family, sitting in silent grief, thinking of the sad breach that is made in their little society; and, with tears in their eyes, looking to the chamber that is now left vacant, and to every memorial that presents itself of their departed friend. By such attention to the woes of others, the selfish hardness of our hearts will be gradually softened, and melted down into humanity.

II. CONSIDER THE DEATH OF OUR FRIENDS. Then, indeed, is the time to weep. Let not; a false idea of fortitude, or mistaken conceptions of religious duty, be employed to restrain the bursting emotion. Let the heart seek its relief in the free effusion of just and natural sorrow. It is becoming in every one to show, on such occasions, that he feels as a man ought to feel. At the same time, let moderation temper the grief of a good man and a Christian. He must not sorrow like those who have no hope. They whom we have loved still live, though not present to us. They are only removed into a different mansion in the house of the common Father. In due time, we hope to be associated with them in these blissful habitations. Until this season of reunion arrive, no principle of religion discourages our holding correspondence of affection with them by means of faith and hope. Meanwhile, let us respect the virtues and cherish the memory of the deceased. Let their little failings be now forgotten. Let us dwell on what was amiable in their character, imitate their worth, and trace their steps. Moreover, let the remembrance of the friends whom we have lest strengthen our affection to those that remain. The narrower the circle becomes of those we love, let us draw the closer together. But they are not only our friends who die. Our enemies also must go to their long home.

III. CONSIDER HOW WE OUGHT TO BE AFFECTED, WHEN THEY FROM WHOM SUSPICIONS HAVE ALIENATED, OR RIVALRY HAS DIVIDED US; they with whom we have long contended, or by whom we imagine ourselves to have suffered wrong, ARE LAID, OR ABOUT TO BE LAID, IN THE GRAVE. How inconsiderable then appear those broils in which we have been long involved, those contests and feuds which we thought were to last for ever! The awful moment that now terminals them makes us feel their vanity. Let the anticipation of such sentiments serve now to correct the inveteracy of prejudice, to cool the heat of anger, to allay the fierceness of resentment. When a few suns more have rolled over our heads, friends and foes shall have retreated together; and their love and their hatred be equally buried. Let our few days, then, be spent in peace. While we are all journeying onwards to death, let us rather bear one another's burdens, than harass one another by the way. Let us smooth and cheer the road as much as we can, rather than fill the valley of our pilgrimage with the hateful monuments of our contention and strife.

(H. Blair, D. D.)

I. EXAMINE THE TERM APPLIED HERE TO DESCRIBE THE GRAVE — "the long home." We are not to look down into the earth, but up at the skies. Above the grave we may discern the glory.

II. WHAT AN ADDED AND INTENSIFIED INTEREST BELONGS TO THOSE WHOM WE HAVE KNOWN WHEN THEY PASS AWAY FROM US INTO "THE LONG HOME," THUS EQUIPPED.

1. There was the process of the spirit disentangling itself from the body.

2. There was the new consciousness of the spirit, freed from the limitations of the flesh, and really entering the new world.

3. As we think upon the long home we cannot but remember that we too must finish with this world and die.

4. We, toe, must be judged, our conduct and character will be examined by the Infallible Judge.

5. We, too, must prepare. We may well consider whether the preparation is really made, and whether it is continually enlarged and perfected.

(Alfred Norris.)

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