|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.
Verse 3. - A time to kill, and a time to heal. The time to kill might refer to war, only that occurs in ver. 8. Some endeavor to limit the notion to severe surgical operations performed with a view of saving life; but the verb harag does not admit of the meaning "rewound" or" cut." It most probably refers to the execution of criminals, or to the defense of the oppressed; such emergencies and necessities occur providentially without man's prescience. So sickness is a visitation beyond man's control, while it calls into exercise the art of healing, which is a gift of God (see Ecclus. 10:10 Ecclus. 38:1, etc.). A time to break down, and a time to build up. The removal of decaying or unsuitable buildings is meant, and the substitution of new and improved structures. A recollection of Solomon's own extensive architectural works is here introduced.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
A time to kill, and a time to heal,.... A time to kill may be meant of a violent death, as a time to die is of a natural one; so the Targum,
"a time to kill in war;''
or else, by the hand of the civil magistrate, such who deserve death. Aben Ezra interprets it "to wound", because of the opposite "to heal"; and so there is a time when wounds and diseases are incurable, and baffle all the skill of the physician, being designed unto death; and there is a time when, by the blessing of God on means, they are healed; the wound or sickness not being unto death: so the Targum paraphrases the last clause,
"to heal one that lies sick.''
This may be applied in a civil sense to calamities in kingdoms, and a restoration of peace and plenty to them; which is the property of God alone, who in this sense kills and makes alive in his own time, Deuteronomy 32:39; And in a spiritual sense to the ministers of the word, who are instruments of slaying souls by the law, which is the killing letter, and of healing them by the Gospel, which pours in the oil and wine of peace and pardon through the blood of Christ, and so binds up and heals the broken hearted; and there is a time for both;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; to break down a building, and build a waste, as the Targum; to break down cities and the walls of them, as the of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; and to build them up: as in the times of Nehemiah and Zerubbabel: and so in a spiritual sense to break down the church of God, the tabernacle of David, and to raise up and repair the breaches of it; to build up Zion, and the walls of Jerusalem, or to restore the Gospel church state to its glory, for which there is a set time; see Amos 9:11.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. time to kill—namely, judicially, criminals; or, in wars of self-defense; not in malice. Out of this time and order, killing is murder.
to heal—God has His times for "healing" (literally, Isa 38:5, 21; figuratively, De 32:39; Ho 6:1; spiritually, Ps 147:3; Isa 57:19). To heal spiritually, before the sinner feels his wound, would be "out of time," and so injurious.
time to break down—cities, as Jerusalem, by Nebuchadnezzar.
build up—as Jerusalem, in the time of Zerubbabel; spiritually (Am 9:11), "the set time" (Ps 102:13-16).
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