Online Bible Commentary
To Everything There is a Season
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: 2 A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; 3 A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; 7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; 8 A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace. 9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. 12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God. 14 I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. (NKJV)
Solomon, son of David, was the king of Israel for some forty years (1 Kings 11:42) from 970 B.C. until his death at the age of fifty-nine in 931 B.C. He wrote the book of Ecclesiastes likely near the end of his life, about 935 B.C.
Solomon, being the son of a king, had received the best education known to man at the time. He learned the best of human wisdom. He also was blessed by God with true wisdom, the wisdom from God. He was considered to be the wisest man ever to live.
In this passage Solomon is writing of the seasons of life. In verses two through eight of this chapter seven seasons are cited. Seven is the number for completeness. These seasons make up a complete life during our time on this earth.
There is a season of birth, a planting of seed, conception, followed by a season of death, being plucked from this earth (v. 2). There is a season of war, followed by a season of recovering from war, a tearing down, followed by a building back up (v. 3). Solomon had first hand experience of these seasons. His father, David, was the warrior king, clearing the way for Solomon to be the builder king.
There is a season of hard times, when we “weep’ and “mourn”, only to be followed by a season of good times when we “laugh” and “dance” (v. 4). The reference to stones (v.5), in Jewish rabbinical tradition, was a reference to sexual activity. There is a season for this activity and embracing, followed by a season of refraining.
There is a season of gaining, or keeping, followed by a season of losing, or throwing away (v. 6). Life is full of gains and losses, keeping or throwing away. In verse seven the word translated “tear” is the Hebrew word “qara” which means “to rip or split apart.” In human relations, there is a season of separation and silence, followed by a season of mending and speaking (v. 7). There is a season of hate and fighting, followed by a season of love and peace (v. 8). Solomon is not writing of the way things should be, but rather of the way that they are. He is writing of the cycle of life.
So what is the “profit”, the meaning of this life (v. 9)? Solomon has “seen” all the seasons of life in these waning years of his life (v. 10). God has made all the seasons “beautiful”, meaning that there is completeness to each season (v. 11a). Also God has “put eternity” in our hearts, so that we know there is more to life than these earthly seasons (v. 11b). The problem is that God’s ways are a mystery to men (v. 11c). We see through a glass darkly.
Since life is a “gift of God”, Solomon concludes that we should “rejoice”, “do good”, and “enjoy” life (vv. 12-13). “God does it”, God is in control of all things. So it is best to respect Him and submit to His control (v. 14).
There are many seasons to our lives. We cannot control many of the things that happen to us. It is called living life. We can only control our responses. We can rejoice, do good, and enjoy life.
When we try to control that which only God can control, the result is stress, which will keep us from rejoicing, doing good, and enjoying life. In the midst of our seasons, all of our seasons, we should respect and submit to God’s control.