This seems to be one of the more notable and well-known passages of Ecclesiastes. Solomon starts out, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” Verses 2-7 go on to describe how everything in life has it’s appropriate time and place to occur.
It is interesting that the Preacher begins with the reality of life and death in our sin-cursed world: “A time to be born, and a time to die.” Life and death were preeminent in Solomon’s mind at the time. As he neared his death he contemplated his life and all that he had done.
This first observation on his list is so true though. Nothing happens without life, so life must begin for anything to occur. But in the end, death ends life and all that took place during life. So in essence, life and death are the controlling factors behind everything else in the following six verses.
There is a time to be born, and no one has any control over when they are born. With the exception of suicide, it can generally be said that no one has any control over when they die either. All that we have “control” over is what happens between our birth and our death. There is a time for both, and it is my responsibility to make the time between those two events profitable.
A few other verses in this list are especially meaningful to me. Verse 4 says, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh.” Life is not all joyous and jubilant- at times it is sorrowful. At the same time, it is not always sorrowful, but God provides me with joy and happiness too. For the unbeliever, there are both times of happiness and sorrow, but true joy is never experienced apart from Christ.
Verse 6 says, “A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away.” Maybe the most significant verse for me is this one. Immediately I think of people like Job, Peter, Paul, and…Jesus. In life there are times to gain good things and times to lose good things. There are times keep good things and times to throw away good things. Two verses that come to mind are Philippians 3:7 and my life verse Philippians 1:21: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ,” and “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Verse 7: “A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” I’m a fairly quiet person, but I still have not mastered the “art” of always knowing when to keep silent or when to speak. The Bible speaks extensively on the issue though, talking about when to say something, when not to say something, what to say, what not to say, and when to entirely refrain from speaking altogether. This is a good reminder for me to think of what the Bible has to say about what and when to speak.
To everything there is a time and season,
To everything a rhyme and reason:
A time to be born,