There is Meaning Out There (Eccl. 12:1-14)

Luke Morrison • March 27, 2023


In 1979, a study was done among teenagers in Sweden, who were asked to respond to the statement, “I think the following could give my life more meaning…” Of those surveyed, eighty-seven percent thought that meaning could be found in a good job, eighty-five percent thought it could be found in a marriage partner, and eighty-four percent thought it could be found in sports and recreation. Only fifteen percent thought that reading the Bible and prayer could help, and another fifteen percent indicated that they thought alcohol could help.

About eight percent considered the question of the meaning of life important, yet eighty percent considered it unimportant whether Jesus existed as a man on earth or not. Also, eighty-five percent considered it unimportant whether Jesus is the Son of God or not. A full seventy-five percent concluded that the question of God’s existence is unimportant.

Jim Peterson, Living Proof,  NavPress, 1989, pp. 35.

That is a shocking amount of people who do not consider God to be of importance for meaning in anything.

Jobs go away or we lose them.

Marriage as great as it is can end, either in death or many other terrible situations. So it cannot give full meaning.

Sports and recreation get to where you cannot do them or enjoy them as you once did. So they do not give meaning.

Alcohol will only lead you to distress and pain and misery because it takes control of you. So it does not give meaning but takes meaning.

So, it seems that maybe God is the only one way for meaning in life. And this is what we will be examining today as we study:

1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. 9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12 ESV

From a Young Age Be Committed to God

Verse 1 tells us to “Remember your creator in the days of your youth.”

This is not about recalling Him to mind but about being committed to Him.

Solomon is telling us all, and is explicitly telling the youth, to commit to the Lord while young.

This means getting Him and His word buried in your heart.

This is plotting our lives by His desires and commands.

This is believing in Jesus Christ and staying committed to Him throughout your whole life.

He is telling us to leave behind the idea that we are to go through a wild time in our lives. That we are to rebel.

I want to tell you now that one of the biggest lies ever told is that it is normal for a teenager to rebel and go wild for a season. That is a lie from hell that has caused many to go off the deep end and walk away from the Lord.

The Bible tells us to honor our mother and father. If we honor them then we will not rebel. There is not a time limit on when we stop honoring our parents.

The Bible does not say “when you turn 18 you are your own and never have to honor your parents again.”

No, it says honor your mother and father and you will live long.

So, stop thinking you need to go wild and rebel and live like the world, that is a lie and nothing but destructive.

All that type of living leads to is a misery and regrets and no pleasure.

Living in sin and chasing things the world says is good will only result in a life that is empty and hollow and medicated because you are anxious, worried, diseased, or depressed.

Remember your creator now and live a life that honors Him and worships Him.

Also, when we commit to the Lord in our youth and continue to follow Him faithfully, we will have His Word in us and when things get out of whack, we will naturally be able to recall what He has said and told us to do and we will be able to live life even when it is impossible.

This is highly urgent because…

Time is Running Out

Time is catching up to us all. We cannot stop the hands of time.

Just as sure as it is daylight then dark, our life clicks along just the same.

The lights will be snuffed out one day. We will no longer be here and if we have not been the Lords here, we will not be in that day either.

Our minds start to falter and fade as we age. We lose things we used to recall with ease.

This is another reason why we need to commit to the Lord in our youth and follow Him and His word closely.

As we age we will be able to recall these things. I have seen this in nursing homes with alzheimers patients. When the old hymns come on, they remember them when they cannot remember their own children’s names.

Looking at verse 3 we see this concept become crystal clear.

He says that in the days the keepers of the house tremble, strong men are bent, and the grinders cease.

Verse four tells us the doors will shut one day. What all this is saying is that we will get to a point where we cannot do all these “wild oats sowing” things and then what?

What are you going to do when you cannot do anything else that gave you meaning and worth?

Will you just give up and call it quits?

Will you still try to go on when you cannot even walk?

No, you will tremble and be stooped over because you have lost vitality and are not capable of doing what gave you meaning and identity.

If you had committed to the creator in your youth, you would not have concern because you know who and what you are exactly in Him and you will be able to live fully even when you are nearing the end and have become weak and frail.

But we need to make this commitment…

Now Before the Doors Shut and Eternity has Come

The doors will shut as verse 4 tells us and we will be going to our eternal home as verse 5 says.

Will you be like those listed in verse 5 who fear and have terrors over this because you are unsure of that eternal home or will you be like the wise man who committed to the Lord in his youth?

Everything comes to an end as we see in verse 6. Nothing remains forever. Nothing stays beautiful forever.

Everything will ultimately return to dust and back to the earth and our spirit will go where it is destined to go.

That is why it is all vanity as verse 8 says.

Everything in this creation is nothing if we do not know and honor the creator.

We are nothing but dirt bags and we will go back to the dirt.

Everything fancy that we see and desire here, is nothing more than a development of man that will fall apart and be done for in time.

The cord will break, the bowl is broken, the pitcher is shattered, the wheel at the cistern breaks, all of these fancy and extravagant items are all going to be done for.

Nothing lasts forever but us and where we go when we die.

Why go out there and live a “wild oats” lifestyle that only leads to destruction and death and misery?

Why do that when the most amazing and beautiful blessing and life is right before you through the Lord?

There is meaning out there as the message title says and that meaning is not in the things of this world but in the creator of this world.


The Fear of God Gives Meaning

Verse 13 tells us the end of the matter is to fear God and keep His commands.

If we do this, then we find meaning in life.

If we have a fear of God and seek to follow Him in all we do, we find meaning.


Verse 14 tells us that God will bring all things into judgment nothing stays secret from Him.

You may think you can sneak around and do things that are unholy and all will be well, well you are wrong.

He will see everything and not to mention when you are sneaking around, you are not having fun or living a meaningful life.

You are in the secret and hiding and living in misery even if you think you are not.

If what you are doing is so much fun and it is so perfectly fine to do, stop being a coward and hiding it and start doing it in the open view.

God sees it anyway so why hide it?

Because you know it is wrong and you still want to do it which means you are not living a meaningful life because you are not living life but a secret.

Solomon tells us that we need wisdom and knowledge.

We need truth in life.

We need to follow our one Shepherd.


Through Fear We Find Wisdom

When we fear God we will find wisdom because we will seek truth and wisdom and knowledge.

We will desire to know the truth in everything even if that truth cuts us deep.

We see this in verse 11 when Solomon wrote that “the words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed.”

Goads would be used to prick and prod along the oxen for the work of the farmer.

Those goads would sting and make the animal move and do what it was supposed to do. Much like spurs now.

We use spurs to make the horse do what it is supposed to do. Wise words will do the same and if we are out of line, those wise words will sting and hurt and make us get into line.

They are fixed because truth is true whether we like it or not.

2+2 always equals 4 no matter what you may think.

Truth will always goad us to the right path because truth is firmly fixed like nails firmly fix things together.

We must be cautious of looking for anything outside of the truth.

This is what Solomon is meaning when he said “beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” in verse 12.

When we are focused on the truth we will not seek any other “wisdom” outside the truth to try and overturn the truth.

We will not try and say that men and men or women and women can be married when the Bible is clear that this is wrong.

We will not seek to find more genders when the Bible, and nature, is clear that there are only two–male and female.

We will not seek “new” wisdom when we have the truth delivered by our Shepherd the Lord and creator of it all.

All this does is wear you out and wear you down because it is impossible to make the truth a lie and a lie the truth.

That is why Solomon said to beware this and be careful.

He is not against intellectualism and gaining insight, but that the worldly wisdom is tainted and tries to go against the truth of God.

We must be cautious and we can be cautious when we have committed to the Lord and seek His ways always and when we do this…

We Are Obedient and Live Openly

This is what it means that the end of the matter is to fear God and keep his commandments.

He will bring it all into judgment.

We can live an open and joy filled life when we are living in obedience.

When we are living in obedience we will live a life that is full because we are living in the will of the Lord.

We are looking to Him for all things because we have committed Him to ourselves.

We know what is evil and what is good and we know He sees it all because nothing stays a secret.

Every secret thing will be brought to light is what this means and guess what Jesus said this in Luke 8:17

17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

Luke 8:17 ESV

When we live for the Lord and seek to follow Him, we will live a life that is in the light and not in the dark and dreary alleyways.

We will be in the light and not in the dark and dirty crevices of our minds.

We will walk tall and boldly live life without fear and worry of others because we know our savior and who we are in Him.

This is meaning. This is what life is about.

Life is not about getting drunk, shacking up with any and all the women or men you can.

Life is not about money, cars, tools, clothes, or anything else that gives status.

Life is not about wealth in this world but it is about wealth in the world to come where we will be with the Lord forever.

So, to answer the question this series set out to find, yes there is meaning out there and that meaning is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ.


So looking back at the statistics from the opening story we see through this Scripture just studied that the only meaning is the Lord and what He has said and commanded.

In Him is life and light. Listen to what John wrote John 1:1-5John 1:1–5 ESV

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

He is the light that removes the darkness surrounding you. He is the light that shines on life and what life is.

Let His light shine on you and let that light guide you into true meaning.

That meaning is only through salvation in Jesus Christ alone. Seek Him and live a life of meaning.