Lately, for a variety of reasons, I’ve been thinking about times and seasons. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says there is “a time for every matter under heaven.” Growing in grace and knowledge means discerning what time it is. The sons of Issachar, for example, were men who understood the times and knew what to do (1 Chronicles 12:32). Life is like a vapor (James 4:14) and for all of us, to quote Matthew Henry, “The time to die is fast approaching.” While we should live each breathing moment as if eternity hinged upon it, we mustn’t hold on too tightly. Times and seasons, no matter how earnest we are, are in God’s hands and not ours.
Below are a few excerpts from commentaries that I looked at while studying Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here…” (Romans 13:12) My prayer is that we, the people of God, would know what time it is.
“One day soon Jesus will come again—“a second time” (Hebrews 9:28), indeed at just the right time, at the hour his Father has appointed (Matthew 24:36)—and then time will be no more. In the meantime, we pray that the Lord will bless us the way he blessed the sons of Issachar in the time of David. Those men “had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32; cf. Esther 1:13). To that end, we pray the timeless words of the prophet Moses: “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).” 1
“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).” 2
“Change is a sign of life. In this life the change is from one extreme to another. Some changes are not under man’s control and some are. The alternating seasons of life, such as weeping and laughing, scattering and gathering, and getting and losing, are the mark of this world. Only God is changeless. We keep discovering and unlocking the mysterious, beautiful world God has made. Although we have been examining it for thousands of years, there is yet much about the world and the universe it is in, that we do not know. No one can find out why God made so many things. No one knows all that went on before they reached their present state. No one knows what will come of it all (v. 11).” 3
“Each human life has a span, and within its duration there are momentous events. Man may see them as random happenings—determined by the roll of the celestial dice—but the Bible teaches that God has a chosen purpose for everything (Rom. 8:28). Man has mastered many things, but he has no control over time. Each moment is God appointed.”4
1 Ryken, P. G. (2010). Ecclesiastes: Why everything matters. Preaching the Word (87). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
2 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
3 The teacher’s Bible commentary. 1972 (F. H. Paschall & H. H. Hobbs, Ed.) (378–379). Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers.
4 Winter, J. (2005). Opening up Ecclesiastes. Opening Up Commentary (50). Leominster: Day One Publications.