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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Ecclesiastes 3

Verses 1-9

ECCLESIASTES

CHAPTER 3

A TIME FOR EVERY PURPOSE OF MAN

Verses 1-8 affirm that there is a season and time for every purpose under heaven. A time which begins and ends according to the will of the all wise and Almighty creator God. Fourteen pairs of opposites in human experience are cited to emphasize how completely the divine will sets an appropriate time for every needed human activity, Ecclesiastes 3:17. The disappointing reality is that man under the sun is unmindful of his more important needs and the appropriate time often passes unheeded, 1 Samuel 15:26; Jeremiah 8:20; Hebrews 12:17.

Verse 9 expresses Solomon’s awareness that man’s activity under the sun does not satisfy his need and is of little profit.

Verses 10-11

DIVINE PURPOSE

Verse 10 affirms that the travail (labor or tasks) of man is assigned by God, according to His divine purpose, Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Verse 11 declares that God has made everything beautiful in its time; also set an awareness in the heart of man of eternity, a long indefinite period of time, and no man can find out the work God maketh from the beginning to the end, Ecclesiastes 8:17; Romans 11:33.

Verses 12-13

MAN’S BEST UNDER THE SUN

Verses 12-13 -(See comment (1) under Ecclesiastes 2:24-26).

Verses 14-15

GOD’S STEADFAST GOVERNMENT

Verses 14-15 affirm the steadfastness of God’s government of the universe for the PURPOSE that men FEAR (reverence) God, a fact repeatedly emphasized in Ecclesiastes 3:14; Ecclesiastes 5:7; Ecclesiastes 7:18; Ecclesiastes 8:12-13; and Ecclesiastes 12:13. Like the recurring cycles of nature in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, God’s judgment will be all-inclusive, covering past and present, 2 Peter 2:4-9.

Verses 16-17

JUDGMENT ABOVE AND BELOW THE SUN

Verses 16-17 acknowledge that under the sun judgment by men is corrupted by wickedness and iniquity; but it is not so "above the sun", where God shall judge with truth and equity, the righteous and the wicked, at times and places of His own appointment, Acts 17:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6-8.

Verses 18-20

SIMILARITY OF MEN TO BEASTS

Verses 18-20 affirm Solomon’s desire that men under the sun might be caused to see that they are like beasts in that:

1) They die like beasts; they are powerless to prolong life, Vs 19.

2) Like beasts, they are unable to retain the breath by which they live, Vs 19.

3) Like beasts, their bodies return to the dust of earth, Vs 20.

Verses 21-22

A DIFFERENCE IN MAN AND BEAST

Verse 21 contrasts the difference between .the man under the sun and the beast. It is not a question of uncertainty, but a statement of fact, later repeated by the preacher in Ecclesiastes 12:7. The spirit of man goeth upward and the spirit of the beast goeth downward to the earth.

Verse 22 affirms Solomon’s perception that God who distinguishes between man and beast, endowing man with eternal existence, has wisely purposed that man should work for his earthly subsistence, and should rejoice in the portion allowed him, Ecclesiastes 9:10; Genesis 3:19; Proverbs 13:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10. See also comment on Ecclesiastes 2:24.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ecclesiastes-3.html. 1985.