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Under several very interesting representations, the Preacher continues in this Chapter to follow up the same subject, as in the former. The mutability of all things here below, is strikingly set forth; and the unchangeableness of God's purposes clearly established.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which 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 weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; (5) A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; (6) A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; (7) A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; (8) A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
I cannot but be led to suppose, that the Holy Ghost had some special design in what is here said respecting times and seasons; and, especially, as it is set forth under so great a variety of terms. If we consider what the Preacher here saith, spiritually, there is indeed to everything in grace a season, and a blessed season it forms, when the sinner is born of God, and to God; and dead to sin, and delivered both from the guilt and dominion of sin. Blessed Jesus! what a sweet thought is it, that my times are in thy hands. Psalms 31:15 .
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth? (10) I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. (11) He hath made everything beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. (12) I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. (13) And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. (14) I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. (15) That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
From the fluctuating state of things, as they refer to men, the Preacher makes a beautiful transition in those verses, to the permanent and settled things of God, and his purposes. Here, indeed, as the Preacher saith, everything is beautiful in its time and order. In things of nature, providence, and grace, we may well cry out, as we contemplate them; in wisdom hast thou made them all. Psalms 104:24 .
And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. (17) I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. (18) I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. (19) For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. (20) All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (21) Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? (22) Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
We have here a very solemn but just description of the state of man upon earth: and a suitable reflection made upon it, from the common event, which takes place on the mere animal life, both of man and beast. And hence, the preacher draws a fine picture, in proof of the corrupt, and frequently mistaken judgment, among men, to confirm the certainty of the divine administration. Here, indeed, opens a large scope for meditation, amidst all the various sorrows which spring out of oppression, and unjust judgment, to take comfort in the righteous government of God. What Solomon said, the breast of every enlightened mind loudly bears testimony to; God shall judge the righteous and the wicked. And oh! Reader, how additionally blessed is the thought, that He, who is the appointed judge of quick and dead, is Jesus. John 5:27; John 5:27 ; Acts 17:31 .
MY, soul! learn from the solemn observations of the Preacher to enquire, whether in the times and seasons which he saith there are to every purpose under heaven, thou hast found the time of the new birth, and the time of a real death unto sin and a life unto righteousness? Hast thou known the time of the Lord's planting thee in grace, and thy reaping in mercy? Hast thou marked the season, when the Holy Ghost killed in thee the lusts of the flesh, and taught thee to crucify the affections of it by his power? Are the strong holds of sin broken down, and is the spiritual life of grace in Jesus built up? Hath the Lord given to thee holy seasons of mourning for sin, and refreshing recoveries, by the blood and righteousness of Christ, to make thine heart leap for joy? See, my soul, whether these things are in thy evidences of the new life, and thou hast truly found those changes in the times, and seasons, of a dying world, which is hastening away, and which mark not the life of the ungodly, in their purposes under heaven.
And! blessed Jesus teach me when I see the place of judgment among men, and behold the oppression of thy people often there; teach me to look beyond this state of things, and contemplate thy righteous administration. The time is hastening, when thou wilt come to judge the world in righteousness, and minister true judgment unto the people. At thy tribunal, every cause will be reheard. By thine unerring sentence, true judgment will be administered. And while the unpardoned transgressors may meditate terror for the prospect of this great day, do thou, my soul, hail the Lord's approach with joy. Yes! righteous Lord, thou wilt come to plead the cause of thine injured people, and to deliver them that are oppressed with wrong. Lift up thine head, O my soul, and frequently meditate thy Lord's coming. Jesus will assuredly manifest himself in that day to all his people as their brother, while he is their judge; and he who is now their Redeemer, will be their portion and glory forever. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent