In view of Solomon’s warning in (Ecc 12:13,14)to “fear God and keep His commandments,” it seems prudent for us to consider what responsibilities he has given man throughout the book.
First, Solomon has instructed man to enjoy life. While many today have a “it’s all about me” and a “go for the gusto” philosophy, Solomon offers a legitimate reason to find joy in one’s life. There is much to enjoy: food, companionship, work – but all based upon a positive relationship with God. This theme occurs seven times in the book: 2:24-26; 3:12-13, 22; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7-9; 11:8-9. This joy cannot be hedonism, because it is given by God.
Second, Solomon has instructed man to be wise. There are some definite negatives to wisdom (1:18; 2:12; 4:13-16; 9:13-16; 10:1). However, there are numerous advantages. Wisdom itself is good (2:26), it improves the quality of life (7:11-12) and gives strength (7:19). It even can help one in a difficult situation (8:1). It is important to wise men that they help others to become wise (12: 9-12).
Third, Solomon has instructed men to worship God acceptably. Men throughout the centuries have foolishly approached God in a way that was unacceptable (Lev. 10:1, 2; Is. 1:10-17; Micah 6:6-8; Matt. 15:8-9; John 4:23, 24). Proper worship involves a recognition of God’s presence (5:1-2). It also includes careful consideration of one’s words and promises (5:4-6).
Fourth, Solomon has instructed men to remember God. He specifically noted that God should be remembered as judge (11:9; 12:13-14) and creator (12:1). These terms establish God’s power and authority, and demand more than a simple mental acknowledgement. They demand action and genuine devotion (12:13).
Fifth, Solomon has instructed men to have a good work ethic. In a world filled with laziness and gluttony, this message still applies today (9:10; 10:17-18; 11:4-6). It is God’s plan that man work, and work hard. Those who are looking for a “free ride” will not be able to fully appreciate God’s plan for his life and will ultimately destroy himself (4:5). However, it is possible for one to be a “workaholic” and fail to have the kind of balance God desires (4:6).
Sixth, Solomon has instructed men to fear God. This concept is central in all of the wisdom literature (Job 28:28; Ps 111:10; Prov 1:7; 9:10), and is a recurring theme in Ecclesiastes (3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12-13; 12:13). This admonition calls upon men to have a healthy view of God’s awesome power and authority, in contrast with man’s weakness and helplessness. It includes more than respect, but a terror of facing an angry God in the Day of Judgment (Heb. 10:31).
Seventh, Solomon has instructed men to recognize their limitations. Far too often men become arrogant and self-sufficient. Such entails the thinking of fools. Rather, Solomon has demonstrated that there are many things that men do not know (11:2, 5-6) or understand (11:5). Equally, there are many events that are beyond man’s ability to control (8:8).
Bear Valley Church of Christ Weekly Bulletin, October 13, 2019.