When weighing up important decisions some will try to imagine how they will feel at the end of their life, looking back; what will they wish they had done. Others may seek advice from someone older, someone who has the perspective of more life lived.
King Solomon lived in the 900s BC. He became king over the nation of Israel at the peak of its dominion, with territory from the Euphrates river to the Negev, and at a time of peace. He reigned for 40 years and enjoyed the prosperity of his Kingdom, as well as the adulation of his people and surrounding nations. Solomon was particularly known for his wisdom, a gift he sought from God. Jesus attests to the wisdom of Solomon in the New Testament. His wisdom has been passed down to us in three books in our Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Ecclesiastes was written near the end of Solomon’s life, as he reflected over all he had experienced through reigning, through judging difficult situations between his peoples and through his keen observation of human experience.
Chapter 12 of Ecclesiastes is the conclusion of this book, summing up Solomon’s advice to a younger generation. From all of his experience Solomon pleads that they remember their Creator, remember God, while they are young. He warns that there will come a time in life when they may no longer be able to appreciate God or enter into a relationship with him. With beautiful imagery Solomon describes the ageing process with the decline of our senses and lack of energy for life, before eventually the “spirit returns to God who gave it”.
It is easy to think that we will have more time to think about God in the future: when I’m finished school, when I’ve finished my training, when the children are grown, when I’m retired. But in reality, as time goes on our lives become busier and more complicated. Time and space to reflect on our Creator evades us. We also have no guarantee that we will live to experience the ageing process described so fully by Solomon. In James chapter 4 we are warned about complacency when thinking about the future: “… You do not know what tomorrow may bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
Solomon’s final encouragement is “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” So whatever stage of life you are at, whether studying for school exams, in vocational training, starting a family, looking after elderly parents, or reaching retirement, stop and remember your Creator. Get the rest of your life in perspective by acknowledging him and what he has done for you.