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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 3

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Chapter 3

Now we get into the weary, monotony of life. This has been used poetically as something that is very beautiful. "A time to love," and it's been made very beautiful, but in the Hebrew idea, it was monotony. Life is just monotonous.

There is a time and a season, a time and a purpose under heaven to everything: there is a time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, a time to heal; a time to break down, a time to build up; a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance; a time to cast ( Ecclesiastes 3:1-5 )

And that's the idea of the Hebrew. It's just a monotony. Life seems to be ordered in these things. Just a time, a time, a time, a time. And the Hebrew idea is that of the monotony of life. It isn't, "Oh, the glorious time to love and a time to plant," you know, as we make it very romantic today. It was really being expressed in a very life-gets-so-tedious, don't it? Therefore he concludes.

What profit hath he that works in that wherein he has labored? ( Ecclesiastes 3:9 )

What profit do you get out of your labor?

I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he has set the world in their heart ( Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 ),

Now the word translated world there in the Hebrew is eternity or the ages. God has actually set the ages in every man's heart. There is a consciousness within every man of the eternal. Now some men seek to sublimate that consciousness. Some men seek to deny that consciousness. They seek to deny God. But there is within every man, God has placed it in the heart, eternal, the eternity in the heart of every man that is seeking out after that which is more than just a part of this monotonous routine of life. I'm grasping and reaching for that which is eternal. God has placed the awareness of the eternal in the heart of every man. And that's that deep, spiritual drive that every man has that can only be filled by coming to Jesus Christ and drinking of the water that He gives.

so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of his labor, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be added to it, nor any thing taken from it: for God does it, that men should reverence him ( Ecclesiastes 3:11-14 ).

Now I know this about God. My works are going to pass away. My works are going to be forgotten. But whatever God does, that's forever. And you can't add to the work of God. You can't take away.

Now I love this because I think of the work of God in my life of imputing the righteousness to me through my faith in Jesus Christ. I can't add to it. I can't get a set of rules and start doing all these nice little things and be more righteous. Nor can you take away from that righteousness that I have, that perfect standing that I have before God in Jesus Christ. You can't add to it; you can't take from it. The work of God is complete. The work of God is eternal. And God has worked in me His righteousness by my faith in Jesus Christ.

Now one of the problems that we often have is our endeavor to add to God's work. If I could only, you know, read ten chapters of the Bible everyday, then I could be more righteous. If I'd only pray for four hours a day, then I'd be more righteous. No, no, you can't add. You are righteous, the righteousness of Christ which is through faith. You are righteous in God's sight. "Oh, I got so angry today and screamed at the kids. I'm so unrighteous." No, you can't take away from that righteousness that is yours in Christ Jesus. You can't diminish. God accounts you righteous in His sight. The work of God in imputing righteousness to me.

So I don't need to go around hanging my head, "Oh, I'm so miserable today. I'm such a sinner. I'm so horrible. And I'm so this and that." God is counting me righteous because I am trusting and believing in His work in Jesus Christ. And I can't go around and say, "Well, I'm so righteous, so much more righteous than you, you sinner, you know. I saw what you did. I wouldn't think of doing that," and I can't go around in a self-righteous mold because I have these spiritual gifts or I have done this or that. It doesn't make me any more righteous. You can't add to the work of God. It's complete. It's full. And I'm so glad.

That which ( Ecclesiastes 3:15 )

Verse Ecclesiastes 3:15 is an interesting verse because it is sort of a definition of eternity. And if you have had trouble understanding eternity before, you'll really have trouble now. You see, we live in a time continuum on this planet Earth. Because the planet rotates on its axis about once every twenty-four hours, we call it a day. We measure the time in hours. Because the earth is in an orbit around the sun every 365 days and nine hours and fifty-six minutes and 4/100's of a second, we call that a year. We live on this earth and thus we are spinning around in our days and orbiting around in our years in the time continuum.

Now, if you get outside of the earth, and you begin to accelerate your speed, time no longer is moving in this but it begins to stretch out into a plane according to this speed to where if you can accelerate to this speed of light, time stands still. Now, if we could hop on a ray of light, turning into the energy, get out in this long plane, you could take off on a ray of light in what? One in a quarter seconds, tip your hat to the man on the moon; seven and a half minutes, race past the sun; fourteen minutes, button up your coat as you go past Pluto, so cold--fourteen hours, rather, Pluto. Hundred thousand years you could leave the Milky Way galaxy. One million five hundred thousand years, you could arrive at Adromeda. Make a U-turn, head back to the earth. And in three million years, you could return to the earth on that ray of light and you would be about a day older. But the earth would have gone through three million orbits around the sun, which those who are living upon the earth would have counted as years. So you'd go to look for the house that you used to live in and the cities and the people, and what's going to be in three million years, you see? But you've escaped the time zone. You're into the eternal where there is no time. As you get into the eternal, it is the now zone. God said, "I am." That is expressing His eternal nature. You're no longer within, you're no longer bounded by time, beginning and end; you're now in the eternal. Now. So when you can escape the time zone.

That which has been is now; and that which is to be has already been ( Ecclesiastes 3:15 );

That's weird. God is outside of our time dimension. God is in the eternal dimension. So with God, "a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as a day" ( 2 Peter 3:8 ). In other words, there is no time. You're in the eternal now. So that any event that will ever take place is taking place. Any event that has ever taken place is taking place. That which has been is now; that which shall be has already been.

and God requires that which is past ( Ecclesiastes 3:15 ).

You can't escape it. You say, "Well, I don't understand that." Well, join the crowd. You see, not only are we living in this time continuum, but we are also living in this finite existence and it is impossible that the finite can understand the infinite. Time deals with the finite aspects. Eternal deals with the infinite. And you can't cross the gulf. It's too great. You can only make childish illustrations, but you can't cross the gulf from the finite to the infinite.

Moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. And 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 ( Ecclesiastes 3:16-18 ).

Now this is life under the sun, that man might see himself that he's an animal. But this is not true. Man is more than an animal. Man is made in the image and likeness of God. He's looking at man from the purely humanistic standpoint.

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth the beasts; even one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other ( Ecclesiastes 3:19 );

Not true.

yea, they have all one breath ( Ecclesiastes 3:19 );

The word breath in Hebrew is ruwach which is also translated spirit. There are some who say that man and animals have one spirit.

so that a man has no preeminence above the beast: for all is vanity ( Ecclesiastes 3:19 ).

That is not true. That is looking at man from a humanistic standpoint. Man under the sun. That is not looking at man as God looks at man as a divine creation with eternity in his heart. The animal, of what animal can you say God has put eternity in his heart?

All go to one place ( Ecclesiastes 3:20 );


all are of the dust ( Ecclesiastes 3:20 ),

Our bodies, yes.

and all turn to the dust again ( Ecclesiastes 3:20 ).

Our bodies, yes.

But who knows if the spirit of man goes upward, and the spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth? ( Ecclesiastes 3:21 )

Well, the Lord Jesus Christ knows, and He declares it to be true.

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? ( Ecclesiastes 3:22 )

Who knows what's going to happen after him? So just live for now, rejoice in your works now. This is the purely human view of life. And God has recorded it in His Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit that you might see the view of life from the human standpoint, that it is empty and frustrating, because you don't see man any more than just an animal. And that's why the world around you is so filled with frustration and emptiness today, because it views man as an animal. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ecclesiastes-3.html. 2014.
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