|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-10 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.
Verses 1-22. - Section 4. In confirmation of the truth that man's happiness depends upon the will of God, Koheleth proceeds to show how Providence arranges even the minutest concerns; that man can alter nothing, must make the best of things as they are, bear with anomalies, bounding his desires by this present life. Verses 1-8. - The providence of God disposes and arranges every detail of man's life. This proposition is stated first generally, and then worked out in particular by means of antithetical sentences. In Hebrew manuscripts and most printed texts vers. 2-8 are arranged in two parallel columns, so that one "time" always stands under another. A similar arrangement is found in Joshua 12:9, etc., containing the catalogue of the conquered Canaanite kings; and in Esther 9:7, etc., giving the names of Haman's tensions. In the present passage we have fourteen pairs of contrasts, ranging from external circumstances to the inner affections of man's being. Verse 1. - To every thing there is u season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. . "Season" and "time" are rendered by the LXX. καιρός and χρόνος. The word for "season" (zeman), denotes a fixed, definite portion of time; while eth, "time," signifies rather the beginning of a period, or is used as a general appellation. The two ideas are sometimes concurrent in the New Testament; e.g., Acts 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:1 (comp. also Daniel 2:21, where the Septuagint has καιροὺς καὶ χρόνοις; and Daniel 7:12, where we find the singular καιροῦ καὶ καιροῦ in Theodotion, and χρόνου καὶ καιροῦ in the Septuagint). So in Wisd. 8:8, "wisdom to foreseeth signs and wonders, and the events of seasons and times (ἐκβάσεις καιρῶν καὶ χρόνων)." Every thing refers especially to men's movements and actions, and to what concerns them. Purpose; chephets, originally meaning "delight," "pleasure," in the later Hebrew came to signify "business," "thing," "matter." The proposition is - In human affairs Providence arranges the moment when everything shall happen, the duration of its operation, and the time appropriate thereto. The view of the writer takes in the whole circumstances of men's life from its commencement to its close. But the thought is not, as some have opined, that there is naught but uncertainty, fluctuation, and imperfection in human affairs, nor, as Plumptre conceives, "It is wisdom to do the right thing at the right time, that inopportuneness is the bane of life," for many of the circumstances mentioned, e.g. birth and death, are entirely beyond men's will and control, and the maxim, Καιρὸν γνῶθι, cannot apply to man in such cases. Kobeleth is confirming his assertion, made in the last chapter, that wisdom, wealth, success, happiness, etc., are not in man's hands, that his own efforts can secure none of them - they are distributed at the will of God. He establishes this dictum by entering into details, and showing the ordering of Providence and the supremacy of God in all men's concerns, the most trivial as well as the most important. The Vulgate gives a paraphrase, and not a very exact one, Omnia tempus habeat, et suis spatiis transenat universa sub caelo. Koheleth intimates, without attempting to reconcile, the great crux of man's free-will and God's decree.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
To every thing there is a season,.... A set determined time, when everything shall come into being, how long it shall continue, and in what circumstances; all things that have been, are, or shall be, were foreordained by God, and he has determined the times before appointed for their being, duration, and end; which times and seasons he has in his own power: there was a determined time for the whole universe, and for all persons and things in it; a settled fixed moment for the world to come into being; for it did not exist from everlasting, nor of itself, nor was formed by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, but by the wisdom and power of God; nor could it exist sooner or later than it did; it appeared when it was the will of God it should; in the beginning he created it, and he has fixed the time of its duration and end; for it shall not continue always, but have an end, which when it will be, he only knows: so there is a determined time for the rise, height, and declension of states and kingdoms in it; as of lesser ones, so of the four great monarchies; and for all the distinct periods and ages of the world; and for each of the seasons of the year throughout all ages; for the state of the church in it, whether in suffering or flourishing circumstances; for the treading down of the holy city; for the prophesying, slaying, and rising of the witnesses; for the reign and ruin of antichrist; for the reign of Christ on earth, and for his second coming to judgment, though of that day and hour knows no man: and as there is a set time in the counsels and providence of God for these more important events, so for every thing of a lesser nature;
and a time to every purpose under the heaven; to every purpose of man that is carried into execution; for some are not, they are superseded by the counsel of God; some obstruction or another is thrown in the way of them, so that they cannot take place; God withdraws men from them by affliction or death, when their purposes are broken; or by some other way; and what are executed he appoints a time for them, and overrules them to answer some ends of his own; for things the most contingent, free, and voluntary, fall under the direction and providence of God. And there is a time for every purpose of his own; all things done in the world are according to his purposes, which are within himself wisely formed, and are eternal and unfrustrable; and there is a time fixed for the execution of them, for every purpose respecting all natural and civil things in providence; and for every purpose of his grace, relating to the redemption of his people, the effectual calling of them, and the bringing them to eternal glory; which are the things that God wills, that he takes delight and pleasure in, as the word (e) signifies. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it, "to everything under the heaven there is a time"; and Jarchi observes that in the Misnic language the word used so signifies. The Targum is,
"to every man a time shall come, and a season to every business under heaven.''
(e) "omni voluntati", Montanus, Mercerus, Cocceius; i.e. "rei proprie capitae ac desideratae", Drusius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Earthly pursuits are no doubt lawful in their proper time and order (Ec 3:1-8), but unprofitable when out of time and place; as for instance, when pursued as the solid and chief good (Ec 3:9, 10); whereas God makes everything beautiful in its season, which man obscurely comprehends (Ec 3:11). God allows man to enjoy moderately and virtuously His earthly gifts (Ec 3:12, 13). What consoles us amidst the instability of earthly blessings is, God's counsels are immutable (Ec 3:14).
1. Man has his appointed cycle of seasons and vicissitudes, as the sun, wind, and water (Ec 1:5-7).
purpose—as there is a fixed "season" in God's "purposes" (for example, He has fixed the "time" when man is "to be born," and "to die," Ec 3:2), so there is a lawful "time" for man to carry out his "purposes" and inclinations. God does not condemn, but approves of, the use of earthly blessings (Ec 3:12); it is the abuse that He condemns, the making them the chief end (1Co 7:31). The earth, without human desires, love, taste, joy, sorrow, would be a dreary waste, without water; but, on the other hand, the misplacing and excess of them, as of a flood, need control. Reason and revelation are given to control them.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 Parallel Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT
Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NASB
Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible