What does the Bible say about the Silver Cord in Ecclesiastes 12:6?
Ecclesiastes is a very unusual book of the Bible. The phrase “under the sun” (life on this earth) occurs 27 times in this book. It occurs more times in this book than in any other book of the Bible. In sharp contrast, the phrase “under heaven” occurs only three times. This reveals that the book describes what life is like for the person who rejects God. The opening statement is, “Vanity of vanity. All is vanity.” Another way to say it is “Empty of empties. All is empty.” Life without God is empty.
The first two chapters of the book remind us that life is repetitive and there is no lasting eternal advantage with wealth, fame, possessions, pleasure or worldly wisdom. The rest of the book tells us that life is unfair, foolish things occur, and work is hard. Ecclesiastes 5:20 says that man.
. . . seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. (NIV) Ecclesiastes 5:20
That is, we are so busy enjoying the moment that we do not think about eternal issues.
The last chapter, Ecclesiastes 12, focuses on the death of a man. It describes how we age, the aches, pains, and the eventual failure of parts of the body. Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 describes the final end of man. The verse you are asking about occurs in this last chapter,
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. (NKJV) Ecclesiastes 12:6-7
This verse accurately translates the Hebrew by giving us the various ways a man can die. Some believe the golden bowl is the head (head injury); the pitcher is the lungs (lung disease) and the wheel is the heart and circulatory system (heart failure). But the most interesting one is the Silver Cord. This is the only place in the Bible this term is used. The Hebrew word for “loosed” has the idea of being removed far away. Since it is difficult to understand how the spinal cord could be removed, it appears best to understand this phrase as referring to the departure of the spirit of a man – natural death. When a man dies his spirit departs. That is, either the spinal cord ceases to function because the human spirit departs or the cord is broken due to old age.
The Holy Spirit ends Ecclesiastes by reminding us that life on this earth is empty and pointless in the end if we are living without God.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. (NKJV) Ecclesiastes 12:13
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