Reading the Word
Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 (ESV)
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up 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 together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast 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 for war, and a time for peace.
Understanding and Applying the Word
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 all goes together with verses 1-8 making an observation about life and verses 9-15 giving us an interpretation of the observation. For today, we will simply look at the first part and visit the second tomorrow. It is important to understand that these verses are observational, not prescriptive. Solomon looks at life and sees that there are many contrasting, and even conflicting, realities to life in this world. In this poem, Solomon lists seven lines describing different times in life. Each of the seven lines lists two pairs of contrasting things (e.g. life and death, planting and harvesting, weep and laugh, etc.) for a total of fourteen pairs.
This passage is one of the most well known poems in Scripture. This is at least partly true due to the popular song by The Byrds. This passage does not give us instruction on how to live, but observes the realities of life. These verses echo the truths of Ecclesiastes 1:1-11, where we read of the endless cycle of life. We are left asking, “What is the purpose of it all?”
If you have lived long enough, you have experienced many of the things listed in today’s reading, both the positive and negative things. We all go through these things and we all are left wondering what this world is all about. We will look at the interpretation of these things more tomorrow, but to find any lasting meaning, we must look to Jesus Christ, the one who came into our world to give us hope of something greater. Through Christ, believers have the promise of a life where the pain and sorrow and suffering are no more. Are you looking for life’s meaning? Look to Jesus.
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