The Whole Duty of Man
To begin this, I want to explain mercy.
Mercy is God’s kindness to sinners.
There is temporal mercy (Matthew 5:45) where God sends rain on the good and the bad.
There is spiritual mercy for the saved (Titus 3:5-7). It is the lovingkindness of God as our Father, seeing to us, as His children.
Encouraging, and reproving us; to help us attain to all He has for us.
Some time back I was having a study in Ecclesiastes. At the end of this book we find:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
Ecclesiastes is a book Solomon wrote about all his experiments into the “grand purpose of life”,….”under the sun”.
Which simply means, Solomon, given wisdom from God, tried to find the purpose for life, by natural means.
(It was after the twenty years he took to build the Temple; a labor of love, which his father, David, charged him to do.
Solomon saw to every detail…loving every minute; and the dedication of the Temple was the highlight of his reign. But then….what was he to do?)
So Solomon began a trial of many things. And what did he find?
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 13-14 “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
And I gave my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.
I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”
“Vanity” is nothing. At the end of his trials into building, and mirth, and wine, and knowledge; Solomon found that the greatest wisdom is to “Fear God, and keep His commandments”.
For he could not find any greater purpose than to serve God in the work He gives.
He had built cities. Fortified them.
He had written books of proverbs for instruction. Many had come to hear and see him….for the wisdom he expressed.
He had wisely ruled his people, and they had been at peace.
Yet he says:
Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 “Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
And who knoweth whither he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored, and wherein I have showed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.”
Nothing he tried, seemed to satisfy him.
And he sees that God has set eternity in man’s heart, and no man can be satisfied with anything but God and His Will.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
“The world” here is actually “eternity”. God has placed eternity in the hearts of man, so that they will know there is more to life than “eat, drink and be merry”.
Man can not naturally find out God’s Will for himself. No, it is spiritually discerned. In other words, the Holy Spirit must show it to you.
1 Corinthians 2:12, 14 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 “But it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
And in the end, Solomon realized that real life and wisdom came only in the personal relationship to God.
That is what “Fear God” is. It is the personal heart of man, bowing in subjection and dependence on God, in a personal relationship—fellowship.
It was too late for the good he could have done (1 Kings 11:4, 9-11) for his people and for his children.
(Years had past in all this experimentation…..and when he was an old man, his many wives (which was a sin)…led him astray….so that he let them worship the way they wanted….a great sin…for it introduced idols into Jerusalem.)
But some people believe that Solomon co-wrote the eighty-ninth Psalm (I do).
There you find him rejoicing in the God of mercy, and His faithfulness:
Psalm 89:1 “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever: with my mouth will I make known Thy faithfulness to all generations.”
Remembering God’s goodness to him in speaking to him:
Psalm 89:14-15 “Justice and judgement are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face.
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound (His voice and word): they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance.”
There you see his confession:
Psalm 89:38, 44 “But Thou hast cast off and abhorred, Thou hast been wroth with Thine anointed.
Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.”
And you have his cry for God’s mercy for himself and his people:
Psalm 89:47, 49 “Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast Thou made all men in vain?
Lord, where are Thy former lovingkindnesses, which Thou swearest unto David in Thy truth?”
And finally his submission to the Lord:
Psalm 89:52 “Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen (Let it be whatever You will), and amen.”
He only prays for mercy, here. For as a sinner, he needed that spiritual lovingkindness of his Heavenly Father for himself.
Solomon has left us a lesson: the world and all it’s greatest things, can not fill our hearts. Only God can satisfy to the full.
We can be happy in the moment; but we always want more happiness.
But in the Lord, is contentment and joy. (Joy is the Presence of God in my life, springing up in newness and light.)
No matter where we are in our spiritual experience; we may also pray for mercy from our Heavenly Father. He may correct; but He will come and restore the peace and joy we need.
Solomon says: Let us hear….
After growing old trying all sorts of things….Let us hear the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God (reverence….be in awe….see His Holiness….see His Almightiness….and bow. Someone has said, “If you fall on your knees before God, you won’t ‘fall’ for every trick of the world and the devil”)….
…..and keep His commandments,…
….for this is the whole duty of man.