Looking back over a life filled with wrong choices, sin, and the consequences of both, Solomon declared even the riches and pleasures that he had sought and obtained to be vanity (Eccl. 1:2). With the bitter fruits of experience behind him and the desire before him to prevent others from following in his footsteps, he penned these words: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth” (Eccl. 12:1).
We sometimes regard “remembering” as the vocation, if not the vice, of old age. After all, how much do youth have to remember about anything, much less their Creator? But, of course, Solomon gives wise counsel. The words that follow remind us how brief a span of time we are allotted here, how quickly the years fly, how soon any opportunity to serve the Lord, help those around us, provide opportunity for God to bless us, and take occasion to glorify Him is spent. The world says, “Young person, sow your wild oats.” But what it fails to acknowledge is that such sowing produces a crop of weeds that will choke out any good crop and be exceedingly difficult to eradicate from the garden of life.
Wise is the parent who keeps before his children the need to know and love the Lord, and wise is the child who takes that counsel to heart. I have never in sixty-plus years of life heard anyone regret having submitted to God’s will or having served the Lord from the heart. (Mechanical, heartless service is another matter. That may be regretted for both carnal and spiritual reasons.) But many, many have expressed regret over years wasted, wrong choices, and sinful behavior—though, in some cases, it had been pleasant for the moment.
Solomon would spare young people his sorrow, regret, and bitterness. He desires them to begin early to serve the Lord so that they might experience the blessings of “compound interest,” the value of investing over a long period of time. And that brings up an important point regarding remembering. When this term is used in Scripture it suggests much more than “recalling something to mind.” To remember involves more than the mental exercise of recollecting some theological truth about God or even some personal experience of His blessing, and dredging up some memory from the forgotten past.
We understand remembering, when used in Scripture, to be a verb denoting action. For example, God is sometimes said to “remember.” Clearly, He has never forgotten anything (with the exception of our sins that have been placed under the blood of Christ). He does not need to search His memory banks for anything because He holds all knowledge perpetually in the forefront of His mind, so to speak. We read that “God remembered Noah . . . and caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water [of the flood] subsided” (Gen. 8:1). Also, “God heard . . . [Israel’s] groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Ex. 2:24), and He commissioned Moses to deliver His enslaved people from Egypt. Additionally, “the Lord remembered” Hannah’s prayer for a son; and “it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son” (I Sam. 1:19b, 20a). And finally, “God has remembered her [Babylon’s] iniquities. Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds” (Rev. 18:5b, 6a).
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