Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A Time for Everything

1 For everything there is a season, and 1a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to 2die; 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 3weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to 4dance;
5 a time to 5cast away stones, and a time to 6gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to 7refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to 8lose; a time to keep, and a time to 9cast away;
7 a time to 10tear, and a time to sew; a time to 11keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to 12hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Meaning and Commentary


The general design of this chapter is to confirm what is before observed, the vanity and inconstancy of all things; the frailty of man, and changes respecting him; his fruitless toil and labour in all his works; that it is best to be content with present things, and cheerful in them, and thankful for them; that all comes from the hand of God; that such good men, who have not at present that joy that others have, may have it, since there is a time for it; and that sinners should not please themselves with riches gathered by them, since they may be soon taken from them, for there is a time for everything, Ec 3:1; of which there is an induction of particulars, Ec 3:2-8; so that though every thing is certain with God, nothing is certain with men, nor to be depended on, nor can happiness be placed therein; there is no striving against the providence of God, nor altering the course of things; the labour of man is unprofitable, and his travail affliction and vexation, Ec 3:9,10; and though all God's works are beautiful in their season, they are unsearchable to man, Ec 3:11; wherefore it is best cheerfully to enjoy the present good things of life, Ec 3:12,13; and be content; for the will and ways and works of God are unalterable, permanent, and perfect, Ec 3:14,15; and though wicked men may abuse the power reposed in them, and pervert public justice, they will be called to an account for it in the general judgment, for which there is a time set, Ec 3:16,17; and yet, such is the stupidity of the generality of men, that they have no more sense of death and judgment than the brutes, and live and die like them, Ec 3:18-21; wherefore it is best of all to make a right use of power and riches, or what God has given to men, for their own good and that of others, since they know not what shall be after them, Ec 3:22.

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The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.