Thought for May 3rd. “Fear God and keep his commandments”
These are the final words in Solomon’s Book of Ecclesiastes. In the verse 12 he writes, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of mankind” At the start of this book we read, these are “the words of the Preacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem.”
In today’s final chapter we read, “Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging, many proverbs with great care.” [v.9] We quoted a few days ago v.11 “the words of the wise are like goads, like nails firmly fixed” [v.11] and it reminds us of what Jesus said to Paul on the Damascus road, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” [Acts 26 v.14]
Goads are the nails that are fixed behind horses in harness pulling a carriage, which prick them if they try to disobey the driver. Paul’s conscience was pricking him as he put loving and God fearing men and women in prison and stood approving the stoning of Stephen. Do we let the “words of the wise” that God has caused to be preserved throughout the Bible prick our conscience? We should.
Solomon has a particular message for the young. “Rejoice, O young … let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart … But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgement … Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come … “ [Ch.11 v.9; 12 v.1]
He is writing in the despondency of old age, death is at the door, he had found “enjoyment in all his toil” [2 v.24] and now that is all over. But today we can put a fuller meaning on “before the evil days come” for our world is facing evil times and the good times (?) are largely over; “They are afraid= also of what is high, and terrors are in the way” [v.5].
We must take his final words to heart, “Fear God and keep his commandments … for God will bring every deed into judgment … whether good or evil.” May our deeds be good. May we have a true relationship with God each day – a relationship that grows the more we read his word.