This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard:
Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ASV
QUOD ERAT DEMONSTRANDUM
(which (is what) was to be shown (originally) —abbreviation Q.E.D. —used at the end of a logical or mathematical proof)
Solomon here gives us the final and authoritative conclusion of his thorough and extensive search for the answer to the question, “What is good for man”?
In the same manner that one may prove a theorem in geometry, he has here come to the Q.E.D.
In the glorious conclusion to Ecclesiastes, Solomon lays down the gauntlet, raises the white flag, and surrenders. The worldly wisdom of Solomon ends with his submission to the power of God.
These final two verses guard against any possible misconception; and they give the author’s real and mature conclusion.
“Fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).
Here is Solomon’s witness to the existence and authority of the Law of Moses, because nothing else in the entire history of mankind ever even pretended to be the authentic Word of God.
“This is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).
The word duty here is not in the the Hebrew text of the O.T. and has been added by the translators; and the passage may be read as, the whole of man. A footnote in the RSV which translates: “This is the duty of every man.”
Indeed it is true, regardless of the translation here. Even the Anchor Bible got back in line with this rendition:
The sum of the matter when all has been heard is this: Reverence God, and observe his laws. This applies to everything.
The whole business and the whole purpose, and the whole intent of God’s placing man upon the earth (the whole of man) – all that concerns man is summed up here.
Fear God and obey him!
All other things, as stated again and again in Ecclesiastes, are dependent upon a Higher Incomprehensible Being.
The fear and obedience of God are still the basic requirements of man’s behavior, and God will hold him accountable for his actions.
“For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
The fact of God’s eventual judgment of the whole world is a cardinal principle of Christianity, one of the fundamentals (Hebrews 6:2).
This announcement of it at the end of Solomon’s book makes it a climax.
It could very well have been that his conviction of this certainty was the very thing that finally brought him to his senses.
It will also do the same thing for every honest and intelligent man who will contemplate it.
The resolution of the discord (the making of all things right: the just assignment of rewards for the righteous and punishments for the wicked, which shall take place only in the world to come)
Solomon’s conclusion is that true religion is the only way to true happiness.
Man may chase the rainbows in any direction that he chooses, but apart from the love and service of God, only the rottenness of a grave awaits him.
The verdict of God’s truth against any other way but the true one is `vanity of vanities.’
Why should anyone doubt it and throw his life away in the pursuit of life’s beckoning butterflies, all of which can only disappoint and destroy him?
For a more extensive discussion of The Judgment regarding:
(1) its place in the Bible,
(2) the necessity for it,
(3) the occasion of it,
(4) its importance as a foundational doctrine of Jesus Christ,
(5) the reasons for its being a day of terror and sorrow for all the tribes of the earth.
Here they are:
The Existence and Power of God
God is the Creator
God is the creator of Man
Immortality of the Soul
The Resurrection of the Dead
God is the Shepherd of Israel
The Existence of Moses’ Law
God’s Commands Available in that Law
That Law a Divine Revelation
Man’s Accountability to God
The Eternal Judgment (Heaven and Hell)
Rewards and Punishments