Day 7: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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,

Day 6: Ecclesiastes 2:24-26

I really like these few verses. Verse 24 says, “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” Sounds good to me! Eat, drink, and enjoy life while profiting from my labor.

“This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” Is it true that God’s design for man was to enjoy life and find satisfaction in everything he does? Of course! In Genesis 1:26-28 God created man and told him to be fruitful and multiply and exercise dominion over the earth. Genesis 2:4-8 gives a more detailed description of man’s creation and implies that man has a responsibility to work and enjoy the fruit of his labor (literally).

So in a perfect world, man eats and drinks and works and enjoys life. But this concept is conditional. These things are only possible when God is glorified and given first priority in our lives. What happened when Adam and Eve took their eyes off God in Genesis 3:6-7? They sinned, and eating and drinking and enjoying the fruit of their labor was no longer as promising as it had been.

This consideration of Genesis 1-3 brings out the truth of Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. Life with sin is distressing and painful and work is not always enjoyable or profitable (Genesis 3:16-19). As Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.”

The man who does good and gives God preeminence in his life enjoys life to it’s fullest. But the sinner works and it profits him nothing. It is pure vanity, and once again, “grasping for the wind.”

To those who do good in His sight
God gives true joy in life.
But those who have no sense of right
Will live a life of strife.

You won’t have reason to be sad
When God is number one.
For God designed man to be glad
In all the work he’s done.