Ecclesiastes 12 … Consider Our Shepherd Who Has Given Us His Word

The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd, (12:11).

Only twelve days in Ecclesiastes, but truth be told, they were days of struggles and wondering and digging to somehow, in some way, see Him. But then this thought came rushing in, isn’t that life, really? The circumstances and crises, the afflictions and adversities, the trials and tribulations, the uncertainties and the unknowns all work vigorously to obscure our ability to see Him. And so, we find ourselves struggling and wondering where He is and how do we find Him. And it is in those very times when we feel disheartened by doubt and question the purpose of it all, that we must tenaciously dig and take hold of truth.

I spent a good bit of time remembering what I had seen thus far in this book that had so challenged my tenacity to keep searching, perhaps like none before.

He Makes the Crooked Straight; He Endows Us With Enjoyment; He Has Set Eternity in Our Heart; He is Our Rest; He Preoccupies Us With His Gift of Joy; He Fixes Our Focus; His End of the Matter is perfect; He Knows the Interpretation of Every Matter; He is Our Living Hope; He is Our King of Noble Birth; and He Will Bring Us to Judgment.

And as I remembered Him, the past twelve days of refusing to give up brought some much-needed clarity. I am utterly desperate for His Word and I must remember what He has revealed.

Twice Solomon calls us to remember. We are to remember Who made us and what we were made for, that we would make the best use of our time while we have the strength and enthusiasm of youth.

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,” (12:1).

Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed, (12:6).

But I also remembered that our youth doesn’t always have to equate with our age when we trust in the Lord.

Youths may faint and grow weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
31 but those who trust in the LORD
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not faint
, (Isaiah 40:30-31 HCSB)

We are never too old to remember. But sadly, we seem to forget so easily, especially when life challenges our senses. Solomon closes his writing by reminding us once again of how meaningless all of life is when our sights are set on our human desires and worldly fulfillment.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!” (12:8).

But thankfully, Solomon doesn’t just leave us without hope. Rather, Solomon provides the solution to “vanity of vanities” through the most beautiful and comforting imagery of Our Shepherd, Who lovingly cares for His sheep through Giving His Inspired Word that goads and anchors us in His truth.

The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd, (12:11).

Consider Our Shepherd Who Has Given Us His Word

Some favorite Scriptures immediately come to mind when considering Our Shepherd.

  • Our Shepherd provides our every need.
    • The Lord is my shepherd,
      I shall not want…
      (Psalm 23).
  • Our Shepherd is our Creator God, and we are the sheep of His pasture.
    • Know that the Lord Himself is God;
      It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
      We are His people and the sheep of His pasture,
      (Psalm 100:3).
  • Our Shepherd lovingly and gently tends His flock.
    • Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
      In His arm He will gather the lambs
      And carry them in His bosom;
      He will gently lead the nursing ewes,
      (Isaiah 40:11).
  • Our Shepherd seeks the one who is lost and rejoices when He finds it.
    • “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing,” (Luke 15:4-5).
  • Our Shepherd is good and lays His life down for His sheep
  • “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep,” (John 10:11).
    • “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand,” (John 10:27-28).
  • Our Shepherd is the Guardian of our souls.
    • For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls, (1 Peter 2:25).

Our Shepherd Has Given Us His Word that we would know Him and His ways and deeds and that we would understand we were created to live life with purpose. And He knows we so often need help in recognizing Truth amidst the commotion of life. And because He is Our Good Shepherd, He is faithful to Give Us all we need.

The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd, (12:11).

From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance:

Goad: “1861. דָּרְבָן dorḇān,  דָּרְבֹן dorḇōn: A masculine noun denoting a goad. It was an iron-tipped pole or a long stick used to drive cattle or oxen, an ox goad… It is also used figuratively of correctly chosen words used to stir up one’s audience or students (Eccl. 12:11).”

Well-driven: “5193. נָטַע nāṭaʿ: A verb meaning to plant, to establish… It describes fasteners, nails being fixed, driven in (Eccl. 12:11).”

Nails: “4930. מַשְׂמֵרָה maśmērāh: A feminine noun indicating a nail. It refers to metal fasteners, but it is used figuratively of collected words and their authors and of the wise as firm nails which drive home instruction for life (Eccl. 12:11).”

  • Our Shepherd Has Given Us His Word to guide, encourage and goad us into His Truth.
    • For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, (Romans 15:4).
  • Our Shepherd Has Given Us His Word to plant, establish and secure us in His Truth.
    • How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
      Nor stand in the path of sinners,
      Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
      But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
      And in His law he meditates day and night.
      He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
      Which yields its fruit in its season
      And its leaf does not wither;
      And in whatever he does, he prospers,
      (Psalm 1:1-3).
  • Our Shepherd Has Given Us His Word to secure, fasten and anchor us in His Truth.
    • so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, (Hebrews 6:18-19).

How do we respond to Our Shepherd Who Has Given Us His Word?

Let’s begin by giving our complete devotion to His Word, that when we are faced with the endlessly meaningless and exhausting philosophies of this world, we will remember Our Shepherd Has Given Us what we truly need in His Word.

 But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body, (12:12).

The truth is, at the end of our time on earth, when all is said and done, what will have mattered is that we lived out His purpose for us: to love and fear God, and keep His commandments. And if we will but remember our true purpose in this temporary life, Our Shepherd will be faithful to goad and secure us in His Word throughout all our days.

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person, (12:13).

Oh, Lord Jesus, Our Good Shepherd, we thank You for Giving Us Your Word that goads and securely anchors us in Your Truth. Oh Lord, please enable us to always remember what You have Given Us in Your Truth that we would learn to walk in Your ways with nothing to hide.

For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (12:14).

And Lord Jesus, may we live life on earth according to Your Truth, that we would not be ensnared by the fading promises and fleeting pleasures of this life, but we would remember that we were created for eternal life through knowing You.

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent,” (John 17:3).

Oh that we would live in wholehearted agreement with Your truth as we remember that life lived without You is truly “vanity of vanities,” meaningless, futile and empty. May we find our fulfillment and purpose in walking in love and reverence for You and Your Word. Please strengthen us in every circumstance and crisis, every affliction and adversity, ever trial and tribulation, every uncertainty and  unknown to keep digging and searching to see You and remember Your faithfulness that we would finish strong as we wait for Your appearing and the unfading crown of glory we will receive from You, Our Chief Shepherd.

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory, (1 Peter 5:4).

Let’s Grow Together!

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