Ecclesiastes 3:6
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) To lose.—Elsewhere this word means to destroy, but in the later Hebrew it comes to mean to lose, like the Latin “perdere.”

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.Get ... lose - Rather, seek, and a time to give up for lost. 6. time to get—for example, to gain honestly a livelihood (Eph 4:23).

lose—When God wills losses to us, then is our time to be content.

keep—not to give to the idle beggar (2Th 3:10).

cast away—in charity (Pr 11:24); or to part with the dearest object, rather than the soul (Mr 9:43). To be careful is right in its place, but not when it comes between us and Jesus Christ (Lu 10:40-42).

A time to lose; when men shall lose their estates, either by God’s providence, or by their own choice.

A time to cast away; when a man shall cast away his goods voluntarily, as in a storm to save his life, as Jonah 1:5 Acts 27:18,19; or out of love and obedience to God, as Matthew 10:37,39 Heb 10:34.

A time to get, and a time to lose,.... To get substance, as the Targum, and to lose it; wealth and riches, honour and glory, wisdom and knowledge: or, "to seek, and to lose" (i); a time when the sheep of the house of Israel, or God's elect, were lost, and a time to seek them again; which was, lone by Christ in redemption, and by the Spirit of God, in effectual calling;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away; to keep a thing, and to cast it away, into the sea, in the time of a great tempest, as the Targum; as did the mariners in the ship in which Jonah was, and those in which the Apostle Paul was, Jonah 1:5; It may be interpreted of keeping riches, and which are sometimes kept too close, and to the harm of the owners of them; and of scattering them among the poor, or casting them upon the waters; see Ecclesiastes 5:13.

(i) "tempus quaerendi", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Piscator, Mercerus, Gejerus, Rambachius.

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. A time to get, and a time to lose] The getting or the losing refer primarily, we can scarcely doubt, to what we call property. There are times when it is better and wiser to risk the loss of all we have rather than to set our minds on acquiring more. Something like this lesson we have in our Lord’s paradox “whosoever will (wills to) save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). In earthly, as in heavenly, things it is the note of a wise man that he knows when to be content to lose. So the Satirist condemns the folly of those who are content,

“Propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.”

“And for mere life to lose life’s noblest ends.”

Juven. Sat. viii. 84.

a time to keep, and a time to cast away] The second couplet though closely allied with the foregoing is not identical with it. What is brought before us here is “keeping” as distinct from “getting,” and the voluntarily casting away (2 Kings 7:15) what we know we have, as distinct from the loss of a profit more or less contingent. And here too, as life passes on, it presents occasions when now this, now that, is the choice of wisdom. So the sailor, in danger of shipwreck, casts out his cargo, his tackling, the “furniture” of his ship (Acts 27:18-19; Acts 27:38).

Verse 6. - A time to get (seek), and a time to lose. The verb abad, in piel, is used in the sense of "to destroy" (Ecclesiastes 7:7), and it is only in late Hebrew that it signifies, as here, "to lose." The reference is doubtless to property, and has no connection with the last clause of the preceding verse, as Delitzsch would opine. There is a proper and lawful pursuit of wealth, and there is a wise and prudent submission to its inevitable loss. The loss here is occasioned by events over which the owner has no control, differing from that in the next clause, which is voluntary. The wise man knows when to exert his energy in improving his fortune, and when to hold his hand and take failure without useless struggle. Loss, too, is sometimes gain, as when Christ's departure in the flesh was the prelude and the occasion of the sending of the Comforter (John 16:7); and there are many things of which we know not the real value till they are beyond our grasp. A time to keep, and a time to cast away. Prudence will make fast what it has won, and will endeavor to preserve it unimpaired. But there are occasions when it is wiser to deprive one's self of some things in order to secure more important ends, as when sailors throw a cargo, etc., overboard in order to save their ship (comp. Jonah 1:5; Acts 27:18, 19, 38). And in higher matters, such as almsgiving, this maxim holds good: "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth.... The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered also himself" (Proverbs 11:24, 25). Plumptre refers to Christ's so-called paradox," Whosoever would (ο{ς α}ν θέλῃ) save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25). Ecclesiastes 3:6"To seek has its time, and to lose has its time; to lay up has its time, and to throw away has its time." Vaihinger and others translate לאבּד, to give up as lost, which the Pih. signifies first as the expression of a conscious act. The older language knows it only in the stronger sense of bringing to ruin, making to perish, wasting (Proverbs 29:3). But in the more modern language, אבד, like the Lat. perdere, in the sense of "to lose," is the trans. to the intrans. אבד, e.g., Tahoroth; viii. 3, "if one loses (המאבּד) anything," etc.; Sifri, at Deuteronomy 24:19, "he who has lost (מאבּד) a shekel," etc. In this sense the Palest.-Aram. uses the Aphel אובד, e.g., Jer. Meza ii. 5, "the queen had lost (אובדת) her ornament." The intentional giving up, throwing away from oneself, finds its expression in להשׁ.

The following pair of contrasts refers the abandoning and preserving to articles of clothing: -

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