In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,
And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:
It would have been better if I had included v. 2 in today’s passage rather than yesterday’s, because it starts the beginning of a poetic description of what happens to the human body as it ages.
Here is a translation that uses a more poetic form:
While the sun and the light,
The moon and the stars,
Are not darkened,
And the clouds do not return after the rain;
In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
And the strong men bow down;
When the grinders cease because they are few,
And those that look through the windows grow dim;
When the doors are shut in the streets,
And the sound of grinding is low;
When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
And all the daughters of music are brought low.
Also they are afraid of height,
And of terrors in the way;
When the almond tree blossoms,
The grasshopper is a burden,
And desire fails.
For man goes to his eternal home,
And the mourners go about the streets.
So, what is happening here is that Solomon is warning the young to take care to worship God and not to waste their youth BEFORE their vision dims; before dryness sets in. As we age, the strength of the arms and legs begins to diminish; a man who used to stand straight and tall begins to stoop; his teeth (grinders) begin to wear down and fall out; vision dims, and sleep is shortened so that he wakes up when the birds sing early in the morning; it is hard to enjoy music as hearing decreases; he become nervous about things he never was concerned about before. The old find the grasshoppers to be a a bothersome pest, and physical desire fades as a man heads to his eternal home and is mourned by those he leaves behind.
The blooming almond trees in this passage are a reference to the white hair that comes with aging; the windows are the eyes, and the “grinding is low” refers to diminished hearing.
It would be a shame indeed if we waste the strength and beauty of our youth on things that do not honor God, leaving us with nothing to show for our lives when we reach old age.