12My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.This really isn't as much of a memory verse as much as it has been an informal "student's creed." I had always taken it (jokingly) as if it were saying, "man, studying is overrated, even the Bible says so, go out and have some fun."
But the other day, I was reading through Ecclesiastes 12 and I found the context. Funny how often random bible verses get ripped out of context isn't it? But anyways, here it is, summing up the book of Ecclesiastes. After all that searching for meaning and truth, here's what the preacher is saying to us:
9Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.What is the text saying? Not specifically that studying in generally wearies the body, but that what is written already is sufficient. Don't go past them. This isn't to say that what is new is necessarily bad, but ultimately, there really is nothing new under the sun. Everything that needs to be said has already been said (in Scripture, which is sufficient to make a man prepared for every good work).
11The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
As a personal example, I was quite surprised how much of today's debates has been done before. For example, in Luther's Bondage of the Will, not only does he deal with God's complete and comprehensive sovereignty in salvation, but he also discusses how people come to know things (epistemology) and deals with Erasmus' view of knowledge (which I thought was surprisingly similar to today's postmodern views of knowledge and truth).
You find similar examples of all this all over the place. It's all been done =)