A. In Solomon's effort to understand the "true meaning to life," he sees that good times and bad times come to all, and this repeats itself in each coming generation.

1. This process repeats itself with such certainty that Solomon concludes -- Ecclesiastes 3:15 - That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

2. The wise man will understand this, and prepare himself for the ups and downs in life

B. Solomon is going to remind us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there are things beyond our control

1. For example, no matter how rich and power one may be, he can not prevent sorrow, sickness and death

2. Solomon is going to help us to see that true comfort and happiness will only come by placing our trust in God

3. Man should make the best of life while seizing the opportunities God offers

C. In our text of study for this lesson (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15), we will see Solomon contemplating the providence of God



  1. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

2. All the items Solomon has mentioned here we will come to know if we live long enough

a. Solomon is confirming his assertion made in chapter 2, that wealth, wisdom and success are not really in man's hands

b. Notice how James puts it -- James 4:13-16:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

3. There is a time:

a. To be born and die

1) Our birth is outside our control, and concerning death -we cannot prevent it -- Hebrews 9:27 - And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

2) The contrast is that birth and death each have their appointed seasons which comes to past without man's interference

b. To plant and pluck up that which is planted

1) Any farmer can attest to the truth of this statement

2) Food for survival depends on knowing when to do either

3) There is a spiritual application:

a) Luke 8:11-15 - PARABLE OF SEED - WORD OF GOD

b) Matthew 15:13 - He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.

c. To kill and to heal

1) This has reference to the execution of criminals and the healing of the sick

2) Biblical examples ...

a) Deuteronomy 13:6-10

"If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods,' which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

d. To break down and build up -- simply, there is a time to tear down old dilapidated buildings and replace them with new ones

e. To weep and mourn, and to laugh and dance

1) This deals with the feelings of the heart

2) Good times and bad times comes into the lives of all

3) I am reminded of Romans 12:15 - Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

f. To cast away stones and gather stones

1) The idea is the throwing away to clear a field or the gathering to build a fence

2) There is a time and place for everything

g. To embrace and to refrain from embracing

1) This refers to illicit and legitimate love

h. To seek and keep, and to lose and cast away

1) In life there are gains and losses

2) The wise known when to exert energy in pursing wealth, and when it is prudent to submit and to loss.

j. To be silent and to speak

1) There are times when we should speak out and other times when we should keep our mouths shut

2) For example:

a) Proverbs 17:28 - Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

k. To love and have peace, and to hate and have war

1) Both emotions, love and hate, are common to life

2) There are things to be loved -John 13:34-35 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

  1. There are things to be hated -- Proverbs 6:16-19:

There are six things that the LORD hates,

seven that are an abomination to him:

haughty eyes, a lying tongue,

and hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked plans,

feet that make haste to run to evil,

a false witness who breathes out lies,

and one who sows discord among brothers.

4. The lesson to be learn in all of this is that we should depend on things in which we have no ultimate control


1. Because there are laws governing the issues and events of life that are beyond man's ability to regulate, Solomon asks -- Ecclesiastes 3:9 - What gain has the worker from his toil?

b. All efforts to circumvent God's appointed seasons and times are futile

c. Man's duty is to recognize and accept the circumstance beyond his control

2. Ecclesiastes 3:10-15

I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

a. Man's needs to realize that everything has a purpose in God's overall scheme

b. Man cannot fully appreciate the beauty of God's over all scheme, because they cannot see the finished product.

c. The human view of life has been compared to looking at a bedspread from the under side that appears only as rags, seems, and knotty strings. God sees the upper side of the beautiful pattern His hands have made.

d. To help us understand and accept the times and seasons of our life, we must view things from eternity's perspective.

e. Man's duty is to make the best of what he is dealt

f. We face only what people of past generations have endured -- 1 Corinthians 10:13


A. Lessons of Lasting Value

1. Life changes often, and wise preparation is needed to make the best of it

2. There is a Divine order that pervades human life, and it is proper and wise to accept it with meekness

3. We should seek God's guidance as we deal the changing times and seasons

4. Man's true happiness depends on God

B. Even though there many things we have no control over, we can:

1. Choose our own conduct

2. Form our own character

3. Decide to obey God or not