Online Bible Commentary
Fear God and Keep His Commandments
Ecclesiastes 12:8 "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher, "All is vanity." 9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright--words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. (NKJV)
King Solomon, son of David, wrote the book of Ecclesiastes late in his life. As a young man of nineteen, he asked God for wisdom and God made him the wisest man in the world. In these final verses of the book Solomon pulls together the three themes of the book.
The first theme is the meaninglessness of life under the sun, life on earth. “All is vanity”, means that, in the end, all things of this world are meaningless (v. 8). We can’t take anything with us. We all come to the same end. We all die. Another theme that Solomon wrote of was to enjoy a balanced life.
Despite the meaninglessness of life, Solomon, in his wisdom, has still “taught the people knowledge” (v. 9a). The “knowledge” he has taught has come from wisdom, which is knowledge from God.
Solomon taught God’s wisdom as “he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs” (v. 9b). He gathered and wrote many proverbs in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
He carefully chose and crafted his words so that they formed “words of truth” (v. 10). These wise words are like “goads”, the sharp pointed sticks that the shepherd uses to guide his flock (v. 11a). These words “are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd”, God Himself (v. 11b). A well driven nail is sturdy and solid. If you follow these words your life will be sturdy and solid.
These words are also for our admonishment (v. 11c). They are to correct us and guide us through life. “There is no end” to the books he could have written with these words, but no more are needed. Writing more would just be “wearisome to the flesh”, his flesh (v. 11d).
Solomon concludes the book with his third, and most important, theme. It is “the conclusion of the whole matter” (v. 13a). This theme is “Fear God and keep His commandments” (v. 13b). “This is man's all”, the whole reason for man’s existence (v. 13c).
In a meaningless world the only meaning comes from fearing God and keeping His commandments. This is because there will be a judgment, a final accounting of all we have done, “whether good or evil” (v. 14).
For the non Christian this judgment is already decided, an eternity in Hell. For the Christian this judgment only determines the extent of his rewards in Heaven. You see, the Christian is living under grace. All of his sins have been forgiven. Jesus took them upon Himself on the cross. So, in the end, there is meaning to life under the sun after all. It determines our eternity.