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[Ecclesiastes:11:9-10]; [Ecclesiastes:12:1-14].

Lesson No.: 
Memory Verse: 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil”  (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

Cross References: 

I Wise Advice
1. Youth should be a time of joy, but not a time of excess and sin, [Ecclesiastes:11:9-10]; [Psalms:119:9]; [1 Peter:4:3-5].
2. The greatest enjoyment for youth is to remember the Creator, [Ecclesiastes:12:1]; [Matthew:18:1-4]; [Mark:10:14-15].

II For Consideration
1. Life often becomes a burden to the aged and distressed, [Ecclesiastes:12:1-4]; [Job:3:20-22]; [Jonah:4:8].
2. Man must go at least to his “long home,” [Ecclesiastes:12:5-7]; [Ecclesiastes:8:8]; [2 Samuel:14:14]; [Hebrews:9:27].

III The Final Word
1. The Preacher sought to instruct the people, [Ecclesiastes:12:8-12]; [Job:28:28]; [Hosea:14:9]; [John:20:30-31].
2. The whole duty of man is: “Fear God, and keep his commandments,” [Ecclesiastes:12:13]; Matthew 10;28; [Luke:10:25-28]; [1 Peter:2:17].
3. God’s judgment will test every work of every man, [Ecclesiastes:11:9]; [Ecclesiastes:12:14]; [Psalms:62:12]; [Jeremiah:17:10]; [Matthew:16:27]; [Revelation:20:12].


Having run life’s race and having experienced life’s extremities, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes gave this treatise to young people. Inspired by the Spirit and recorded in God’s Word, the message is a guide to all young people travelling along the pathway of life.

To the Young
The Preacher knew that if any portion of life is a happy time, it is the days of youth. During that period, life is often carefree, buoyant, and joyous. The writer did not decry this time of life, nor did he try to dissuade young people from the lawful pleasures of youth. He did not try to put old heads on young shoulders. “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes.”

Can that be good advice? Can youth be trusted to that extent? As a safeguard this restraint was added: “But know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” All depends upon the goal that the young person has set his heat upon as to whether his actions can be trusted. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” [Matthew:6:21]). When a person’s heart is right in the sight of God, his affections are set on things above, and his thoughts and actions are above reproach. (Read [Galatians:5:22-23].) Thoughts of God’s judgment cause the saved person no consternation, because good deeds will bring a good reward. The young person who follows sinful desires into pernicious ways has cause for concern, for his sins will come following after him to the judgment.

The young do not travel very far along the pathway of life before they come to the crossroads of life. One the left hand stands the wide gate, big and beautiful to behold, and overlaid with the glittering gilt of many vain promises. Looking through the gate, the broad way can be seen, lined on both sides with numerous gaieties, pleasures, vanities, and deceptions. The broad way appears at first glance to be an easy way to travel, for the incline is slightly downward, requiring little energy to be expended. Many people enter through the wide gate, crowding the broad way. Those who tarry in their decision to enter the wide gate are tempted, lured, pushed, or pulled by the devil toward that way; for the devil is prince and ruler of that way, and he would have as many subjects as possible. But beware! This wide gate and broad way lead only to death and eternal destruction.

On the right hand stands a much smaller gate, perhaps unnoticed at first. Although plain in appearance the strait gate was erected at tremendous cost: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” [John:3:16]). Looking through this wondrous gate one beholds the narrow way. It is an uphill way, and it is apparent that some energy will be required to travel it. Much happiness and many genuine pleasures line this highway, too, but they are invisible to the glance of the casual onlooker. The narrow way is not crowded, for few people enter the strait gate. No one is forced to travel this way, but all are invited to enter by the Voice of the One who stands and knocks at the heart’s door of all mankind. Heed the Voice! Oh, listen to the Spirit’s call and enter the strait gate, for the narrow way leads to Heaven and life eternal!

The Vital Decision
Which way will you take? The decision is left to the individual, but it is a vital decision that has to be made. Often the first impulse of an awakened conscience is to try to delay making any sort of decision; but God burns the truth into the heart of all, that delay is only decision in the wrong way. The writer of Ecclesiastes knew well the two ways of life, and he went on record to urge young people to choose the right way while they are young.

Youth starts into life with a clear conscience, which, if diligently followed, will lead to God. Far too often, however, the wrong course is observed and followed. Habits soon begin to form. One deed, like the fine thread of the spider’s web, draws after it another. A deed done once tends to be done twice, and the second time it becomes easier than the first time. A man makes a track with difficulty in the deep snow in the morning, but each time he travels it the track becomes a little wider and a little easier to travel.

Generally speaking, the years of life from youth to 25 or 30 are the formative years, casting the pattern and characteristics for the remaining years of life. Youth is pliable and yielding, like the iron that flows from the furnace in a molten stream. In a short while, however, that iron shaped in the pattern of its mould becomes a rigid bar. In like manner the character formed by youth becomes less flexible and more difficult to bend.

Godless Old Age
Seeing that these things are true, there is no wonder that the Preacher called to the young: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” He went on to give a symbolic word picture of the aged man who, without serving God, had lived his allotted time on earth and was waiting for death to take him out of the land of the living. No doubt this man, typical of multitudes of people, had at one time heard the call of God to righteousness, and perhaps then he purposed to serve God in later life; but now he was beyond caring for such important matters.

Every day was a cloudy day during this man’s old age; there was no sun, moon, or star to brighten his sky. Natural defence was gone; his eyesight was dim; eating ceased to be a pleasure, because teeth were few and digestion was difficult; hearing became dull; insomnia or sleeplessness was prevalent; high places were things to fear.

The day of death was near, and the mourners saddened by the imminent departure went softly about the city streets. Death took place -- the man went to his “long home.” The dust returned to the earth as it was, and the spirit returned unto God who gave it, to be judged according to the works done in the body. Somehow, as one meditates upon the meaning of the Preacher’s words, the note of sadness and warning is detected. If the old man had sought God in his youth and served God throughout his lifetime, his last days upon earth would have ended in a happier theme.

In Christ
Death with a less sinister meaning is the lesson that the Spirit seems to be trying to impress upon the heart of the young and old alike. The truth can bear repeating, that if a man lives right, he will die right, whether he be a young man or an old man. The writer, having experienced most of life’s vanities and having awakened to the right conception of life’s true values, desired that people live right. He taught the people knowledge, writing upright words of truth. Rightly used, the inspired Word will keep a man travelling on the road to Heaven, steadfast and sure in his evaluation of the Truth.

Among the wonderful things in the world is the aged person who has true experiential faith in Christ, Jesus. His natural forces may have abated similar to the symbolic picture, but his life is not a void. His days are brilliant with the hope of soon being with the Lord. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” [Philippians:1:21]). Death holds no terror for the upright: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? . . . thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” [1 Corinthians:15:55], [1 Corinthians:15:57]).

This treatise is brought to a close with a very forceful personal application. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” “Fear God,” that is, honour and worship God. This is the whole duty of man -– the first and chief business that man should attend unto. Whether a man be rich or poor, high or low in the estimation of men, is immaterial, for these things are a part of the passing scene. The treasures of godliness in a man’s heart will last throughout eternity.

To emphasise further the importance of a decision to godliness, the truth of the judgment is again stated. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” If any words would bring a man to his senses, these words should. To persist in sinning is spiritual insanity. The sane-thinking young man or young woman, sure in his knowledge of God’s judgment and surely knowing the end of the wicked, can come to only one conclusion of life’s true value: “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” The present time is the right time to do the right thing; the present time is the right time to begin following Jesus Christ, if that is not your present course.


1. What advice was given to young people by the writer of Ecclesiastes?
2. What limit was placed upon youthful pursuits?
3. Why is it best to remember the Creator in the days of youth?
4. Why is death referred to as man’s “long home”?
5. What are the different destinations of the body and spirit of man at death?
6. Name the several ways in which the Preacher sought to instruct the people.
7. What was the final statement in this lesson of man’s whole duty?
8. What law of God makes this statement so important?