One of the more familiar and oft-quoted verses of the Old Testament is the opening line to the final chapter of Ecclesiastes. I’ll quote it here from the King Jim since that’s how most will have heard it.
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth . . . – Ecclesiastes 12:1, KJV
But that’s not the full verse, and those of you who follow my writings know that I am all about context.
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; – Ecclesiastes 12:1, KJV
King Solomon has offered wise counsel in this call. Despite being written millennia ago, it is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Possibly even more so. The call is to remember God when we are young, because we are all growing older, and as we do so, the call to embrace our Creator becomes increasingly difficult and less likely.
Current-generation youth (and adults) are inundated with calls to godless living. We are bombarded daily with the relentless propaganda machine of a self-centered culture and practices of humanistic impiety. Present-day youth are pressured to believe that they are products of chance, random processes and that there is no more to life than what is at their fingertips.
The reality is, they are special creations of God Almighty, crafted to accomplish high and holy purposes laid out for them from the foundation of the earth. Recognizing this reality when one is young, acknowledging the majestic sovereignty of God, seeing Christ as Savior, Creator, and King sets the stage for an exciting and fulfilling life.
When we refuse our Creator in the days of our youth, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember our Creator as we grow older because of our tendency to become set in our ways.
As a former pastor, I have seen the cynicism, bitterness and regrets in the unregenerate as age increases and death approaches. This, again, brings us back to the context, because Solomon describes this mentality in the verses that follow the familiar verse quoted above. Read the full context below and give special attention to the language describing the mental state of one who is ageing.
Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when men rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;
when men are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags himself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.
Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
– Ecclesiastes 12:1-7, NIV-1978
Solomon graphically presents a figure of a decaying house symbolizing their aging bodies, fading eyesight, trembling hands, unstable knees, insomnia, frayed nerves and irritability, possibly even the onset of dementia, all resulting in one saying, “I take no pleasure in life,” because we had long ago had forgotten our Creator.
Remember now your Creator brothers and sisters! Now is the time of God’s favor. Today is the day of salvation.1
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12, NIV-1978
Remember now your Creator while you are young, brothers and sisters, and then together we can say . . .
I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread. – Psalm 37:25, NIV-1978
1. 2 Corinthians 6:2