Chapter twelve of Ecclesiastes can be the most enigmatic.
What’s the deal with the stooping strong men, the trembling “keepers of the house” and the ceasing “grinders.”?
Throughout the wisdom literature, Solomon has been insistent that we pay attention to our lives, the direction we are going. Inattentiveness may lead to unchangeability. Go down a road long enough and eventually you’ll find it’s just too hard to change.
And so, at the end of Ecclesiastes, he urges us to give attention to God early in life before we get so old that the old dog can’t learn new tricks. The features of age are described poetically:
The “sun, light, moon and the stars grow dark and the clouds return after the rain.” Those who have spent their lives without a thought for God usually end their days in the gloom of negativity. After all, they have nothing to look forward to.
Even the backs of the strong bend (stoop) with age, our teeth fall out (or have to be pulled – that’s the grinders ceasing because they are few) and we have to pay special attention to keeping our mouths closed when we chew. We get up earlier, and the sound of the birds (along with all other sounds) grow dim. Our hair turns white (the almond tree blossoms) and we become afraid of heights (and paranoid about everything else).
Age is the destiny of all of us, but the end is better for those who remember God. Do it when you’re young enough to develop the habit and it won’t fail you when you get older.