Ecclesiastes 12:9-14: What Makes Life Meaningful?
If you were given the assignment to describe life with one word, what word would you choose? Few of us are comfortable with the Teacher's choice of meaningless. Consider this, however: in darkness, a few small lights will stand out clearly and become the focus of attention. These lights from Ecclesiastes-the purposes, values and priorities that should guide our lives-are now seen so much more clearly. In the final lines of the book, an observer comments on the life and writings of "the Teacher" who wrote this intriguing book. Let's take one last look at how to pursue meaning in life, Ecclesiates style.
Warming Up to God
If a person who knows you well tried to summarize what you have "taught" up to this point in your life, what do you think that person would say? Remember today that it is Jesus Christ who gives you hope and a purpose for your life. Meditate on the ways he has changed your life since you met him for the first time.
Discovering the Word
- How is the Teacher's purpose described in verses 9-10?
- Why is it significant that the Teacher's words are based on the authority of the "one Shepherd"?
- Why do you think the commentator ends this book with the particular directives of verses 13-14?
- Sum up the message of Ecclesiastes in a brief phrase or statement.
- How would you characterize the Teacher's pursuit to find meaning in life? (See 1:12—6:12.)
Applying the Word
- What does it mean for you to "fear God and keep his commandments"?
- In light of your study of Ecclesiastes, on what basis is life meaningless to you and on what basis is it not?
- Verse 11 says, "The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails." What did you find in Ecclesiastes that goaded or irritated you toward wisdom?
Responding in Prayer
Spend some time thanking the Shepherd for challenging you with the message of Ecclesiastes.