Dave Burnette's Commentary

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Solomon
Date Penned: (935 BC)
Overview: Wisdom's Lessons from Experience (c 1-12)
Theme: Solomon's General Observation (c 3-5)
Message: A Right Time for Everything (v 1-22)

Ecclesiastes 3 Commentary 

(3:1) The Cycle of Life - Solomon's point in this section is that God has a plan for all people. Thus, he provides cycles of life, each with its work for us to do. Although we may face many problems that seem to contradict God's plan, these should not be barriers to believing in him. Rather, they are opportunities to discover that without God, life's problems have no lasting solutions. 

(3:1-8) Timing - Timing is important. All the experiences listed in these verses are appropriate at certain times. The secret to having peace with God is to discover, accept, and appreciate God's perfect timing. There is danger in doubting or resenting God's timing. This can lead to despair, rebellion, or moving ahead without his guidance. 

(3:8) Hating Sin - When is the time for hating? We shouldn't hate evil people, but we should hate what they do. We should also hate it when people are mistreated, when children are starving, or when God is being dishonored. In addition, we must hate the sin in our lives; this is God's attitude (see Psalm 5:5). 

(3:9-13) Our Attitude - Your ability to find satisfaction in your work depends to a large extent upon your attitude. You will become dissatisfied if you lose the sense of purpose God intended for your work. We can enjoy our work if we (1) remember that God has given us work to do (3:10) and (2) realize that the fruit of our labor is a gift from him (3:13). See your work as a way to serve God. 

(3:11) God’s Image - Many translations say that God has "put eternity" in our hearts. This means that we can never be completely satisfied with earthly pleasures and pursuits. Because we are created in God's image, (1) we have spiritual thirst, (2) we have eternal value, and (3) nothing but the eternal God can truly satisfy us. God has built in us a restless yearning for the kind of perfect world that can only be found in his perfect rule. He has given us a glimpse of the perfection of his creation. But it is only a glimpse; we cannot see into the future or comprehend everything. So we must trust God now and do his work on earth. 

(3:12) Enjoying Life - To be happy and do good while we live are worthy goals for life, but we can pursue them in the wrong way. God wants us to enjoy life. When we have the proper view of God, we discover that we find real pleasure in whatever we have as gifts from God, not in what we accumulate. 

(3:14) Fearing God - What is the purpose of life? It is that we should fear the all-powerful God. To fear God means to revere and stand in awe of him because of who he is. Purpose in life begins with whom we know, not what we know or how good we are. You cannot fulfill your God-given purpose unless you fear God and give him first place in your life. 

(3:16) God's Sovereignty -  Solomon reflects on several apparent contradictions in God's control of the world: (1) There is wickedness and corruption where there should be justice (3:16-17); (2) people created in God's image die just like the animals (3:18-21); (3) no one comforts the oppressed (4:1-3); (4) many people are motivated by envy (4:4=6); (5) people are lonely (4:7-12); and (6) recognition for accomplishments is temporary (4:13=16). It is easy to use such contradictions as an excuse for not believing in God. But Solomon used them to show how we can honestly look at life's problems and still keep our faith. This life is not all there is, so we should not pass judgment on God; we don't know everything. God's plan for us is that we will live forever with him. So live with eternal values in view, realizing that all contradictions will one day be cleared up by the Creator himself (12:14).

(3:16) Injustice - Wickedness and corruption sit in the place where justice and righteousness should be, thus tainting the legal system. Solomon asks how God's plan could be perfect when so much injustice and oppression exist in the world (4:1). He concludes that God does not ignore injustice but will bring it to an end at his appointed time (12:13-14). 3:19-22 Our bodies can't live forever in their present state. In that sense, humans and animals are alike. But Solomon acknowledged that God has given people the hope of eternity (see the note on 3:11) and that we will undergo judgment in the next life (3:17; 12:7, 14), making us different from animals. Because we have eternity in our hearts, we have a unique purpose in God's overall plan. Yet we cannot discover God's purpose for our lives by our own efforts--only through building a relationship with him and seeking his guidance. Are you now living as God wants? Do you see life as a gift from him?

Dave Burnette's Life Application

A Time for Everything

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today, we start the Book of Ecclesiastes with Chapter 3. Today, we see this text as a book of time and how there is a time for everything. I use this passage during funerals to point out that life is just a vapor. In making applications, we see that our life is just a few days. We don't live forever on this Earth, but if we are saved, we will live with the Lord. How about you? Do you see that our life on Earth is just a few days? Let us learn from our text today to remember that life is just a vapor, and we have time for everything, even death.


Ecclesiastes 3

Ecclesiastes 3

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

 2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

 3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

 4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

 5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

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

 7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

 8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

 9What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

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

 11He 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.

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

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

 14I 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.

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

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

 17I 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.

 18I 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.

 19For 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.

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

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

 22Wherefore 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?