Chapter 3

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1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which 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 together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, 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 hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.

17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Commentary for Ecclesiastes 3

The changes of human affairs. (1-10) The Divine counsels unchangeable. (11-15) The vanity of worldly power. (16-22)1-10 To expect unchanging happiness in a changing world, must end in disappointment. To bring ourselves to our state in life, is our duty and wisdom in this world. God's whole plan for the government of the world will be found altogether wise, just, and good. Then let us seize the favourable opportunity for every good purpose and work. The time to die is fast approaching. Thus labour and sorrow fill the world. This is given us, that we may always have something to do; none were sent into the world to be idle.

11-15 Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God's hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God's works. We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence, is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love him. God doeth all, that men should fear before him. The world, as it has been, is, and will be. There has no change befallen us, nor has any temptation by it taken us, but such as is common to men.

16-22 Without the fear of the Lord, man is but vanity; set that aside, and judges will not use their power well. And there is another Judge that stands before the door. With God there is a time for the redressing of grievances, though as yet we see it not. Solomon seems to express his wish that men might perceive, that by choosing this world as their portion, they brought themselves to a level with the beasts, without being free, as they are, from present vexations and a future account. Both return to the dust from whence they were taken. What little reason have we to be proud of our bodies, or bodily accomplishments! But as none can fully comprehend, so few consider properly, the difference between the rational soul of man, and the spirit or life of the beast. The spirit of man goes upward, to be judged, and is then fixed in an unchangeable state of happiness or misery. It is as certain that the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth; it perishes at death. Surely their case is lamentable, the height of whose hopes and wishes is, that they may die like beasts. Let our inquiry be, how an eternity of existence may be to us an eternity of enjoyment? To answer this, is the grand design of revelation. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God, and the Hope of sinners.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Ecclesiastes 3

  • Dawn Silva on Ecclesiastes 3:3
    Re: Ecclesiastes 3:3

    Why would there be a time time to kill if the bible teaches love one another above all things. What does this verse actually mean or what did it truly mean when it was written? Why would this be in the bible?

    One of the ten commandments states thou shalt not murder.

    While reading the bible and trying to figure out Ecc. 3:3, I find it disturbing.

    Thank you for addressing this email.

  • Chris - in Reply on Ecclesiastes 3:3
    Dawn, you are correct that the Bible teaches that murder is sin, as is Anger akin to murder (Mt 5:21,22). But when we come to Eccl 3:3 we see an apparent conflict in God's command against it elsewhere. We see the writer (we believe it's Solomon), of Ecclesiastes ponder over some aspects of life: its aimless cycles, paradoxes, futility, and yet, through all these, we need to recognize that life is a gift from God to us & to be enjoyed within the scope of obedience to Him & that true justice will be served by Him at the end. But he says that within the full scope of life, with its happy times & sad times, there is a time when death will occur (unnaturally). Now my understanding of verse 3, is that the "time to kill" must refer to those times of war when sadly, the soldier has to kill & be killed, also, it can refer to the outcome of justice, where the Judge pronounces the death sentence upon one convicted of wilful murder (e.g. Gen 9:6, as well as many instances where God has called upon the leaders of the Israelites to execute those who broke certain of His Laws). Now some today may find this very offensive, but that was God's requirement to maintain a Holy Standard among His people, as it is still His requirement for judges today to maintain such punishment for capital crimes. You may not agree with this, but this is what is required to maintain true justice & give real protection to the people.
  • Dawn - in Reply on Ecclesiastes 3:3
    Makes sense.

  • Clementine Boddie on Ecclesiastes 3:8
    what specifically is Solomon referring to when he says," a time to hate." We are studying Ecclesiastes and would like to know in what context he is using this. Are we to hate something, someone, etc!
  • Mishael - in Reply on Ecclesiastes 3:8
    Clementine on ECCL.3 Your question on a time to love; a time to hate. If you will start in chapter one and highlight the word HATE to chapter 3, You'll have your answer. Hate has its own season and it teaches us patience really.

    I have a testimony about that but I'll keep silence. There's so much hate in our world these days. Your testimony is love, peace, & centeredness. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
  • Bob Hilt - in Reply on Ecclesiastes 3:8
    This is my take from King David. Psalms Chapter 139: 19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.

    20 For they speak against thee wickedly, [and] thine enemies take [thy name] in vain.

    21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

    22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

    David hated them who hated the Lord. Has anything changed?
  • David Hummel on Ecclesiastes 3
    There is the statement in God"s word of Amos 2:1 that could be historical or prophetic or both. Edom of scripture , it seems, is represented as
    Russia. This could be a prohecy of how the Romanovs were found executed by red (Edom) Russians in 1918 or thereabouts.
  • Brianna vs 1213 on Ecclesiastes 3
    Several times in the the book of Ecc. God encourages his servants to work hard and reap the rewards from our hard work. This teaches me more about the personality of our creator. He expects us to work hard, whether at spiritual things or secular things. He doesn't like us to be lazy. Hard work brings results. So it is his will that we can rejoice in the fruits of our labor. This encourages me to work hard in my spirituality, my quest to draw close to God, and in my everyday tasks. Then I can have the confidence that I will have God's blessing and enjoy what my hard work produces as long as it is according to God's will. Jehovah God wants the best for his creation and he is very loving!!!
  • Grace Au on Ecclesiastes 3
    I'm angry. Why would God say our works are vanity! Grace Au
  • Deborah Nickrand - in Reply on Ecclesiastes 3
    God did not say this sweetie, it's Solomon speaking here.


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Ecclesiastes says no one can add or take away from what?
  • Man's labors
  • A stone wall
  • A dead man
  • God's labors