Epilogue of Praise for the Teacher (Eccl 12:9-14)
There follows an epilogue about, rather than by, the Teacher. It praises his wisdom and repeats his admonition to fear God. It adds new elements not found earlier in the book, namely the wisdom of following God’s commandments in light of God’s future judgment.
Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Eccl. 12:13–14)
God’s future judgment is seen as the key to sorting out the mix of good and evil that pervades work in the fallen world. The glimpses of God’s character that we have seen in the book — God’s generosity, justice, and transcendence beyond the confines of the world — depict an underlying goodness in the foundations of the world, if we could only live accordingly. This begins to hint that in God’s time the tensions so vividly described by the Teacher will be brought into a harmony not visible in the Teacher’s day under the sun. Is it possible that the Epilogue envisions a day when the conditions of the Fall do not hold sway over our life and work?