So, as many of you know, I’m working my way through the Bible and doing a commentary study along with it. Today, I read Ecclesiastes 3. Many of you probably know the opening lines to this chapter – either through Bible reading or because you’re a child of the 60’s and know the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecc. 3: 1-9 NIV
My two commentaries give differing opinions about these verses.
The “Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee,” stated that these verses offered a fatalistic point of view. There is no hope in anything – you just live life and then you die. Good things are the same as bad things. Dr. McGee stated that many people in our world today have this fatalistic point of view. And it is a view that does not include God.
In contrast, my NIV study Bible discussed how Solomon (the author of these words) saw that all experiences have their own timing – God’s timing. The study said, “The secret to peace with God is to discover, accept, and appreciate God’s perfect timing.” They do not see these verses as fatalistic at all, rather, realistic.
I thought about these differing opinions for a time and think I agree with the NIV folks. Although Solomon may have been a bit discontented with his life at the time he wrote these words, I think that the NIV commentary is more accurate in what we can learn from Solomon’s words. God does do everything in His own time and it all works for our good.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
There is a time for everything under the sun. Although we may not like to grieve, we must sometimes. Although we don’t want to give up, sometimes it’s vital to walk away from things – like sin. There even is time to tear down. We must break down the walls of our own sin to realize we are saved by the grace of God. We need to let go of those sinful ways in order to embrace what the Lord is giving us. There IS a time for everything – it all leads us closer to God.
Yes, Solomon might not have been thinking in this way when he wrote these words, but I think we need to embrace these thoughts in order to truly become closer to God. We need to know that everything has a purpose and it will all lead us to the glory of God’s saving grace.
As for Dr. McGee … I like his study, and he was a smart man. But I’ll say that I think his commentary for these verses is a bit fatalistic. Maybe he didn’t realize it at the time. But I’m glad even for this viewpoint because it helped me to discern for myself what I thought the true meaning was with these verses. And it helped me write this post. AND it helped me get closer to God.
See. There is a time and a purpose for everything. Even the bad stuff.