Ecc 12.1-14 continues with the thought contained in Ecc 11.10, and having warned the youth to be aware that they will be held accountable to God and their youth is futile and valueless without the Torah, Solomon goes on to say that they should spend their youth serving Yehovah, and then he goes on to elaborate on some difficulties in growing old. He will do this by using Hebrew poetry and idioms and it is a warning because youth is fleeting and we all get older.
v 1…Remember also your creators (plural in Hebrew and this alludes to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-Gen 1.26; Job 35.10; Psa 149.2, Prov 9.10; Isa 30.20; John 1.1-3; Col 1.16) in the days of your youth, before the evil (difficult) days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”(vigor is replaced by the burdens and pains of getting older).
v 2…Before the sun, the light, the moon and the stars are darkened (the light of the face, the gleam in the eyes, cheeks and eyeballs are fading and deteriorating), and the clouds return after it rains (continual aches and pains, sickness, one after another);
v 3…In the day that the watchman of the house tremble (the hands and feet), and the mighty men stoop (the legs no loner upright and weak), the grinding ones (teeth) stand idle because they are few (fell out), and those who look through windows are dim (the eyes).
v 4…And the door on the streets are shut (the lips no longer able to help speak well, have little appetite to eat) as the sound of the grinding mill is low (the sound one makes eating); when one rises up at the voice of the bird (it wakes him up, can’t sleep long like he did when he was young), and all the daughters of song will sing softly (the voices of singers sound like whispers because their ears are deaf)
v 5…Furthermore, they are afraid of a high place (fear of falling) and of terrors on the road (walking and they stumble, or some trouble happens); the almond tree blossoms (white hair appears, the grasshopper drags himself along (loss of agility); and the desire shall fail (about everything, lack of interest). For man goes to his eternal home (in the Olam Haba or Lake of Fire) while mourners go about the street (to accompany the coffin to be buried).
v 6…Before the silver cord is broken (spinal cord is loosed, dissolved) and the golden bowl (the inward membrane of the skull) is crushed (dries up, shrinks, bringing death), the pitcher by the well is broken (stomach breaks) and the wheel at the cistern is crushed (the body and its mechanisms fail at death. The metaphor is likened to the mechanism of a wheel, the cord, wheel and pitcher at a well).
v 7…Then the dust (body) will return to the earth as it was (when God formed Adam in Gen 2.7), and the spirit returns to God who gave it (before his court of judgment. This refutes the belief that mankind is just an accident).
v 8…Vanity (no purpose, empty) of vanities says the kohelet (In Hebrew there is a definite article “the” here meaning gatherer or assembler), all is vanity (no purpose because human life is empty without God).
v 9…In addition to being a wise man, Kohelet (no definite article in Hebrew)) also taught the people knowledge (da’at or the facts of the Torah); and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs (he thought about his words so don’t despise his counsel).
v 10…Kohelet sought to find delightful words (that could bring out the truth he found) and to write words of truth correctly (straight, agreeable to the heart, no fables).
v 11…The words of wise men are like goads (to keep one going in the right direction) and as nails fastened by the masters of collections (into the heart) which are given from one shepherd (Yehovah).
v 12…But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless (and comparatively useless and empty), and excessive devotion to study (the consideration of these books) is wearying to to the body (wastes a person’s strength and will never satisfy his spirit).
v 13…The conclusion (the sum of the matter or “words”), when all has been heard (as opposed to the study of books that will exhaust you): fear God (yirah elohim) and keep his commandments (the Torah), for that is man’s whole duty (why he was created, it is his whole work because his life, wisdom and happiness depend on it).
v 14…Because God (who knows us) will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or bad (not just outward actions, but also our secret thoughts).