Today’s Scripture Focus: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8
What does the Bible have to say about aging? Some of the best scripture we have on growing older is found in Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is Wisdom literature, and in the world of the Bible wisdom was associated with age. Elderly people were considered a precious resource for their wisdom. For instance, when a great famine came, it was helpful to have someone to advise leadership who remembered when the last great famine came. Also, Ecclesiastes is one of three books traditionally credited to Solomon. The rabbis liked to say that Songs was written in Solomon’s youth, Proverbs as he was raising his children, and Ecclesiastes when he was old.
Our scripture focus today is the second part of the two part conclusion to Ecclesiastes, which begins in chapter 11:7. In finishing his thoughts on the meaning of life, the Teacher first summarizes his instructions to the young person—enjoy youth while you have it. Don’t dwell on the negative aspects of your life, because things will be worse some day. The enjoyment of youth is a gift from God, and to fail to take pleasure in youth is a sin. However, while you are enjoying youth, do keep in mind that your actions now will have consequences down the road. Therefore, don’t enjoy life too much!
Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 is a beautiful though bleak picture of the aging and dying process in poetic form. Remember that life is short. Everyone who is fortunate enough to live a long life finds that things that once gave pleasure eventually lose their attraction. Word pictures are given of the deterioration of the body. “Before the sun…and stars grow dark” speaks to dimming vision, “grinders cease” speaks to losing teeth, “songs grow faint” speaks to hearing loss. Finally, the “silver chord” suspending the “golden bowl” (lamp) breaks, and the light goes out. What’s on the outside breaks, but what is on the inside returns to God forever.
The Teacher concludes his book the way he began it— “all is vanity”. In our culture today, we do everything imaginable to fight the aging process. Madison Avenue would have us cut, color, lift, nip, and tuck in an effort to put off the inevitable. Yet we know that it’s pointless to try to stop growing older. Instead, as Christians, we should enjoy each stage of life for what it is. Whatever our body is capable of doing, we should be thankful and active, rather than focusing on our limitations. While taking good care of our physical bodies is good stewardship, we can also take comfort that as they wear out on the outside, we will soon be trading them for eternal vessels that never grow old.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Our culture today often focuses on the negative aspects of growing older. What are some of the best parts about getting older?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?