Ecclesiastes 11:9–12:8 (NKJV)
11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
Walk in the ways of your heart,
And in the sight of your eyes;
But know that for all these
God will bring you into judgment.
10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart,
And put away evil from your flesh,
For childhood and youth are vanity.
12:1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them”:
2 While the sun and the light,
The moon and the stars,
Are not darkened,
And the clouds do not return after the rain;
3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
And the strong men bow down;
When the grinders cease because they are few,
And those that look through the windows grow dim;
4 When the doors are shut in the streets,
And the sound of grinding is low;
When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
And all the daughters of music are brought low.
5 Also they are afraid of height,
And of terrors in the way;
When the almond tree blossoms,
The grasshopper is a burden,
And desire fails.
For man goes to his eternal home,
And the mourners go about the streets.
6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Or the golden bowl is broken,
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the well.
7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“All is vanity.”
Solomon begins this section of Scripture by encouraging young people to be happy, but to also have discretion in their actions. Unwise youthful actions can lead to the judgement of God.
Therefore, the Preacher instructs the young to remember their Creator. There will come days when joy is gone and music fades. Work will become hard and eventually life ends. Then, it is too late to rejoice in God. Then, the mourners go through the streets in your honor.
The imagery in verses 6 and 7 is very poignant, describing the end of life as the silver cord being loosed, the golden bowl broken, etc. This imagery is used even in a poem often quoted at military funerals. Solomon tells the reader to remember God, his Creator, before it is too late, before life ends. All is vanity, but walking through this vain life with God is always better than walking it alone. Walk with God, remember God in your youth and in your life, before death comes!