Ecclesiastes 12:1–14

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (vv. 13–14).

Today, we are finishing our brief excursus on the glory of God and many practical issues related to it. As we have seen, the Bible in many ways presents the glory of God as the chief end or purpose of human beings. He made us in His image to reflect His glory and to enter His glorious presence through Christ (Gen. 1:26–28; Heb. 12:18–29). Moreover, the Lord redeems us so that we will finally see Him face-to-face (1 John 3:3). In light of God’s purpose for us in creation, redemption, and worship, then, we should have as our ultimate aim to live our lives to the glory of God. If we want to bring ourselves in line with our Creator’s loving purpose for us, then seeking His glory is the way to do it.

Consequently we must ask this question: Since the meaning of life is the glory of God and living in such a way that we aim to know and make known that glory, how do we accomplish that goal? As the church has recognized for generations, Ecclesiastes 12:13 gives us the answer: “Fear God and keep his commandments.”

Ecclesiastes is a fascinating work that is often ignored in the Christian community today. Perhaps it is because the book has somewhat of a reputation for being depressing. Some might even say that Ecclesiastes teaches that this life is meaningless. After all, the author of Ecclesiastes frequently comments on the vanity of life.

However, Ecclesiastes is not teaching us the meaninglessness of life. Instead, it is emphasizing the transitory nature, the impermanence, of life in the present order and is calling us to live in light of that reality. We are, in fact, to enjoy the earthly gifts that the Lord has given us, including such things as loving spouses, worthwhile labor, and good food (9:7–11). However, we must do this with reference to God, recognizing that the best things of this life will pass away but that only He endures forever. We go astray when we make the good but temporary things of this life the ultimate things to which we aspire.

To keep us from doing this, Ecclesiastes 12 tells us to orient our whole lives toward the Lord. We are not to wait until the end of our lives to remember Him, for a life well lived entails remembering our Creator in the days of our youth (v. 1). Above all, seeking His glory means fearing God and seeking to keep His commandments (vv. 13–14). It involves living all of life coram Deo—before the face of God. In other words, we are to live ever aware that the Lord is always watching us, and so we ever aim to please Him.

Coram Deo

Because the Lord does not often reveal Himself in spectacular ways in our everyday lives, it can be easy to forget that His gaze is always on us. How differently would we live if we were to remember that He is ever with us and sees all that we think, do, and feel? Let us seek to remember that God’s gaze is always on us so that we will be motivated to honor Him with our lives.

For Further Study