Summary: from a series about the life of Solomon. An examination of the book of Eccelesiastes, to conclude the series, and to see what Solomon concluded near the end of his recorded life.

Ecclesiastes 12:13


Ecclesiastes 12:13

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

If you were to read those words at the end of a book, you might say, “Well, here it is. Here’s the conclusion of the book. Here’s the short version of the whole thing.” Any time you can find a statement like that in a book of the Bible, latch on to it. It’s the key to the book.

John, near the end of his gospel says,

John 20:31 …these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

See, I know that the reason John wrote the gospel of John is so that I would believe Jesus to be the Son of God, and that I might come to have life because of it. That’s his agenda. No surprises. When I go back and read John, sure enough, he’s working at giving me good reasons to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

It helps to have a Bible book just flat-out tell me why it exists. I find it especially helpful in a book like Ecclesiastes, and in a life like Solomon’s.

Before we jump too far into the text this morning, let’s quickly recall where we’ve been:

First we looked at Solomon’s request for wisdom. God offered it, Solomon asked for it, God gave it to him. In fact, he became the wisest of men ever to live, except for Jesus, of course. It was Solomon who collected much of what we call the book of Proverbs. It was Solomon who urged his son, and us, to “get wisdom” even if it costs you all that you have. Solomon was the king God used to build the great temple. It was done with such skill and such amassed wealth that really it’s hard for us to picture it today. Solomon is also remembered for being a very poetic lover. Solomon’s Song of Songs is a beautiful picture of true love, and Solomon should know, because remember he married 700 women and also had 300 concubines – women who led him astray, so that in his later years, Solomon was actually supporting and involved in idol worship. We know all this from just a few chapters: I Kings 1-11 and II Chron 1-9. We know that God was displeased with Solomon’s sin. For at least 20 years of his reign as king, there was a great time of peace and prosperity in Israel. But after that, it gets kind of fuzzy.

There’s nothing that tells us for sure how it all ends. Does Solomon ever get his act together? Does he ever decide to take up his God-given wisdom once again?

Then I get to the end of Ecclesiastes; by the way, that means “The preacher” or “The Church Man.” It’s the book he wrote near the end of his life, and I read this verse:

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

Now, if this were a book about just wisdom or life in general, I’d figure Solomon is just writing the conclusion of a book. OK, if I want to understand this book, look at the conclusion. That’s what I’m doing this morning. If you wonder where I’m going with this, I’ll just tell it to you now:

Ecclesiastes 12:13

here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

“Duty” has been added. Really is says, “This is the whole of man” – this is what man is all about. This is the meaning of life, if you will.

The Message paraphrase puts it this way:

v13 The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you. And that’s it.

Solomon says here it’s the “conclusion of the matter,” not just the conclusion of the book. Nope. This book is about a journey. It’s more of a journal, like keeping a record as you make a trip, and Solomon’s trip is the story of his life – the same story we’ve been following the past few weeks.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-13 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men!

And by the end, he reaches a rather God-honoring conclusion. That’s why I think he must have come around to his senses and made some personal reforms before he died.

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