Today’s Reading: Ecclesiastes 9-12
Today’s Reflection: Ecclesiastes 12:13
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Solomon had been the greatest and wisest king in Israel’s history (1 Kings 3:10-13), presiding over the nation’s longest period of wealth, peace and prosperity ever. Unfortunately at the end of his life Solomon disobeyed the instructions he had been given, married foreign wives, built idols to their gods and worshipped them. This sin would eventually cause Israel to be torn in two—the Northern kingdom and the Southern kingdom of Judah. Before he died, Solomon repented of his sins and wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. Having experienced every pleasure the world could offer he came to the conclusion it was all vanity (emptiness, worthless, wind) and that the only thing in life that mattered was following God.
As incredible as it may seem for Solomon to sum up all he has learned in one verse, he is being quite literal when he writes in Ecclesiastes 12:13 that fearing God and following His commandments is “the whole duty of man”.
Fearing God means recognizing Him for who He is—creator (Genesis 1), lord (Exodus 20:1), provider (Genesis 22:1-19), sustainer (Nehemiah 9:21), shepherd (Psalms 23), wonderful counselor (Isaiah 9:6), and more—and recognizing who we are in relation to Him. We are His creation (Ephesians 2:10), His children (Romans 8:15), His servants (Revelations 22:6), His beloved treasure (Malachi 3:17), His family and the heirs to His kingdom (James 2:5).
Following God’s commandments means loving God with all your heart, mind and soul, and loving your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:34-40). It means growing in grace (2 Peter 3:14-18), developing the fruit of the spirit in your character and exhibiting it in your actions (Galatians 5:16-26), putting on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-20), and more.
This simple verse took a lifetime’s worth of wisdom to write and takes a lifetime to learn to live out.