3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
3:2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3:3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
3:4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
3:5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
3:6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
3:7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
3:8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
3:9 What does the worker gain from his toil?
3:10 I have seen the burden [“travail” (KJV); “task” (HCSB); “business” (NRSV)] God has laid on men.
3:11 He has made everything beautiful [“appropriate” (HCSB; NASB); “suitable” (NRSV)] in its time [cf. the times and seasons of Ecc. 3:1-8]. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men [something within us yearns for eternity]; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end [we see brief, incomplete glimpses but not the whole picture as God does].
3:12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.
3:13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.
3:14 I know that everything God does will endure forever [what God does has permanency]; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
3:15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.
3:16 And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment [the law courts]—wickedness was there [an indication that those in positions of power were abusing that power], in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
3:17 I thought in my heart, “God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there [a divinely appointed time for judgment and vindication] will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.”
Solomon declared that there is “a time for every activity under heaven” (3:1). In each of fourteen statements he illustrated that God controls the times and seasons of life and keeps all of life balanced (3:2-8). Solomon also said that God has put eternity in our hearts (3:11), a hint that there is something more than just our mere existence under the sun.
We should live each day of our lives with eternity in mind, enjoy the good gifts God has given us, and seek to please Him. Solomon then bemoaned the fact that there is wickedness at the place of judgment and also at the place of righteousness. Crime and corruption were present in the very places meant to keep them in check. His only consolation was that God will one day judge everything that both the righteous and the wicked do. Only the righteous will stand in that judgment (Ps. 1:6).
Life is a gift from God. Eternal life is also a gift from God (see Rom. 6:23). God offers the gift of eternal life to all who repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ alone for salvation. Those who turn to Him in repentance and faith experience the highest joys and deepest satisfactions available in a faith relationship with Him. Fulfillment is found in receiving life as a gift from God and seeking to please Him, convinced that God will ultimately judge all people.
3:18 I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.
3:19 Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.
3:20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
3:21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?