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Daily Devotional Ecclesiastes 12:9–14

When a judge or jury renders their final verdict in a trial, it’s a significant event. People stand and pay attention. Reporters might be present in the courtroom. Everyone wants to know the outcome. Which way did the evidence lean? Which arguments were most persuasive?

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.


In Ecclesiastes 12, we read such a verdict. King Solomon had experimented with “life under the sun”—the meaning and purpose of human life on its own, without God— and he was now ready to present the “conclusion of the matter” (v. 13). He’d already called everything “meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 1:14). Is there any hope?

Yes. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (v. 13). Earthly wisdom is not sufficient to be its own end. Only godly wisdom, which begins with the fear of the Lord, gives meaning and purpose to life. To say this another way: Loving worship of the one true God is the foundation of all true wisdom. Without God, human endeavors are empty and end in death. But with God, in the context of a right relationship with Him, human endeavors can take on meaning for His glory.

Why? Because the bottom line of everything is God (v. 14). At times we act as if it’s all about us—our beliefs, our choices, our actions. But it is God who will one day “bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (see Rom. 2:16). To his verdicts there will be no appeal.

The Teacher (Solomon) communicated his conclusion in “just the right words” (v. 10). But the right words can be irritating, “like goads” (v. 11). These are sticks with embedded nails used for prodding straying animals back to the right path. May God’s wisdom have that effect in our lives!

Go Deeper

In what ways is the fear of the Lord a foundational aspect of following Christ? How can we make it a fundamental dimension of our daily discipleship?

Pray with Us:

Lord, enable us to live in light of Your future coming, when everything will come under Your judgment. As we look forward to the Second Coming, teach us to live by the guidance of Your Spirit, with hope, love, joy, and peace.

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