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Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth
before the evil days come,
and the years draw near when you will say,
“I have no delight in them,” Bible

“Remember.” This is the idiomatic or “pregnant sense” of the word remember, and it means not just keep in mind, but honor Him. [For more on the idiomatic sense of “remember,” see commentary on Luke 23:42].

“in the days of your youth.” Ecclesiastes has said a number of things about death coming and God’s judgment coming after death. Ecclesiastes 12 now gives a progression of some of the things that occur with old age that emphasize that people should “remember” (honor, worship) God in the day of their youth. To fully understand that it must be remembered that “worship” under the Old Covenant was not just a state of mind, but actions taken with the proper state of mind. Thus, doing sacrifices and offerings, or going to Jerusalem to sacrifice or participate in a festival such as Passover or Tabernacles, with the right heart and state of mind, was considered worship. But it is a lot easier to offer a sacrifice or go to Jerusalem when you are young than when you are old and feeble.

“before the evil days come.” The “evil days” are the days of old age, and the text will now describe why the days of old age are considered “evil,” in this context difficult and troublesome.

The Hebrew sentence uses the word “not,” which James Bollhagen (Concordia Commentary: Ecclesiastes), suggests means more like, “during the time the evil days have not come.” Given that the “evil days” are old age when strength decreases, eyesight dims, and teeth give the person problems, the literal rendition, more like “so that the evil days do not come” (which appears in 12:1, 2 and 6), cannot be the meaning of the text. Remembering God does not stop old age and the lack of ability that comes with it, but if you remember God throughout your life, you will be prepared for death.

“I have no delight in them.” The text is not saying that there is no delight at all in old age, because there is. However, the aged remember the days of their youth when they were energetic and strong; when they could run and jump and lift and carry, and in contrast to that there is no delight in being old and feeble. We have to keep in mind that the biblical culture was extremely physical. Water had to be lifted out of the well and carried to the house; cooking was done by chopping and carrying wood and tending the fire and the pots full of food; getting daily food required effort and strength, and so forth. The weakness of age made life difficult.


Commentary for: Ecclesiastes 12:1