By Henry Mahan
'Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear' (Isa. 59:1). Our Lord is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him, young or old. All men and women ought to seek the Lord at all times! God commands all to repent and believe the record that he has given concerning his Son. But this chapter deals with things as they are, not as they ought to be. It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of people who do not seek the Lord early will spend old age in the gall of bitterness and die without God and without hope. Those who learn the grace of God in Christ early in life live out their days on earth walking with God in peace, resting in his good providence, and die with a good hope of life eternal.
v. 1. 'Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.' 'Thy creator' is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One cannot remember, worship, nor know one without the other. Our creation, existence, and life are attributed to Father, Son, and Spirit (Read Mal. 2:10; John 1:1-4; Job 33:4).
This God (1 John 5:5-7) should be remembered. The word 'remember' is to recognize, think upon, and be mindful of. This is what the thief had in mind when he asked to be remembered by Christ when he came into his kingdom. Remembering our Creator is not a casual thought nor an indifferent glance, but to set him always before us in love, fear, and worship and never to forget him (Psalm 146:1-2).
1. We are mindful that there is a God of great and glorious perfections (omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy, just, true) who will judge the world in righteousness (Isa. 46:9-13).
2. We are mindful that God is, in Christ Jesus, a God gracious and merciful, pardoning iniquity and sin by his obedience and death.
3. We are mindful that the end for which we are made is to glorify him (Rev. 4:11). If we are saved, resurrected on that great day, and conformed to the image of Christ, it will be by his grace, according to his mercy, through his own work, and for his glory (1 Cor. 1:30-31).
We are to be mindful of him in the days of youth, which are the best and choicest days. God is worthy of the first fruits, when our bodies are healthy, our minds are quick, and our souls capable of being enlarged. To delay our worship of him is ungrateful, for he is the giver of every gift, and foolish, for no man can be sure of tomorrow (Prov. 27:1; James 4:13-16). 'The evil days' that are sure to come mean the days of OLD AGE. They are called the evil days not because sins of old age are any more evil than sins of youth, but because old age is attended by trouble, disease, and affliction. There are weakness of body, decay of intellect, and inability to discern, desire, or put together the hopes and mysteries of spiritual truth. Men and women who live their lives without God come to old age with no pleasure in looking back, no pleasure in their present circumstance, and certainly no pleasure in thinking of death and eternity! Contrary to this, Paul viewed the past, present, and future with joy and delight (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
vv. 2-7. Solomon describes the infirmities of old age and the troubles that come upon us in order to encourage the young to seek the Lord early.
'The sun, light, moon, and stars will be darkened.' This is the understanding, mind, judgment, and memory. All of these are greatly impaired or lost in old age.
'The clouds return after the rain,' In youth troubles come, then there is sunshine and a clear day; but in old age as soon as one cloud arises and departs, another follows.
v. 3. 'The keepers of the house shall tremble.' The house is the body, and the keepers are the arms and hands which in old age become weak.
'The strong men' are the thighs, legs, and feet which have supported the house.
'The grinders which cease because they are few' are the teeth.
'Those that look out of the windows be darkened' are the eyes.
v. 4.'The doors be shut' must be the lips which are opened for speaking and eating; but in the aged they are shut more than opened for either.
'They rise up at the voice of the bird.' Old men usually retire early and rise early.
'The daughters of music shall be brought low.' What are the instruments of music?--the lungs, throat, mouth, teeth, and lips, all of which are weakened by old age.
v. 5.'They shall be afraid of high places,' such as mountains, hills, and towers because of the feebleness of their limbs 'The almond tree shall flourish.' This is the white hair which looks like an almond tree in bloom.
'The grasshopper' is a very light thing, but the lightest load is a burden to the aged. 'Desire shall fail;' desire for almost everything is weakened by old age.
'Man goeth to his long home.' The grave is the home of the body.
v. 6. 'The silver cord' is the bond between soul and body. 'The golden bowl' is the brain, which stops functioning; and 'the pitcher broken at the fountain' is the heart, which is the fountain of life.
vv. 7-8. The body, which is dust, shall return to the earth; and the spirit or soul shall return to God who gave it. Now, when you consider all this vanity of the world and the flesh, is it not wise to remember, be mindful of, and seek to know the living God with whom we have to do? How foolish to invest all in decaying flesh!
vv. 9-14. 'The preacher was wise.' God taught him and he taught the people the words of God.
'The preacher sought to find acceptable words,' not mere words, but words of truth, delight, and promise.
'The preacher's words are like sharpened sticks' to prick sinners in heart and direct them in the true way, also like nails to fasten us to Christ.
The conclusion of the whole matter, the sum and substance of the whole book is reduced to two things--the fear of God and obedience to him, which are urged from the consideration of who he is and what he shall do!