11:1-12:14 HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TO LIFE
Boldness in spite of uncertainty (11:1-8)
It is typical of the writer that he encourages a positive attitude to life. True, life may be uncertain, but that is no reason to refuse to act positively. Regardless of what people decide to do, they must work at it boldly in spite of the risks, expecting results in due time. However, they should not put all their goods or money into one project. Then, if they meet misfortune in one place, the rest of the investment will be safe (11:1-2).
The world of nature shows that there are many things in life that people can neither control nor alter. There is much they do not know. If they always wait till they are certain before putting their plans into action, they will never do anything (3-5). Rather their attitude should be positive and optimistic (6). Life is compared to the light of day, death to the darkness of night. People should therefore enjoy life to the full while the light of day lasts (7-8).
Advice to young people (11:9-12:8)
God’s will is that people enjoy life. In fact, they have a responsibility to do so. The writer urges young people especially to take note of this and not to misuse their mental or physical powers through developing wrong attitudes to life. However, their enjoyment of life must be according to a proper understanding of God and his character. They, like all others, are answerable to him for their behaviour (9-10).
Young people should remember that God is the Creator, the giver of life and all that goes with it. They should accept life from his hand and enjoy it as he intended. The opportunity will have passed by the time old age comes (12:1).
The writer pictures old age as a run-down house in a cold dark winter. The old person, now at the end of his life, is shaky, bent, half blind, half deaf, unable to sleep well, fearful of heights and afraid to walk along the street. He has lost all desire for life’s pleasures (2-5). Finally, death overtakes him. He is (to use another picture) like a broken bowl or a smashed water jar. God who first gave him life now takes it back. Life has run its course and has led, in the end, to nothing (6-8).