Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Today’s Scripture Focus:  Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

                 Just how did the book of Ecclesiastes end up in the Bible?  This question has caused debate for centuries.  We don’t know when it started being regarded as scripture.  Ecclesiastes is written as if it were an autobiography of Solomon.  It asks the question “is life worth living?”  Surprisingly, the conclusion of the book is “no”!  How did such a pessimistic book end up in the Old Testament when more orthodox writings attributed to Solomon did not?  The short answer is we don’t know.  We are reminded, however, that Wisdom literature is about exploring questions common to humanity, rather than teaching right doctrine or covenant theology.

Today’s scripture focus is the most well known section of Ecclesiastes.  Verses 1-8 is a beautiful poem that stands out in contrast to the cynicism surrounding it.   In “A Time for Everything”, the Teacher demonstrates that all of our experiences take place in God’s time—not ours.  There are seven sets of life events that bring joy and sorrow:  birth and death, sickness and recovery, crying and laughter, beginning relationships and ending them, building and destroying, taking and giving, and loving and hating.  For every life circumstance that brings a beginning, an ending is sure to come.  For each sorrow, there is a corresponding joy.

Following the seven stanza poem, the Teacher goes on to give commentary on its meaning.  People have a concept of eternity built into their hearts, and yet we are all aware that life is temporary.  Rather than accept our fate, we spend our lives laboring and toiling as if we can extend our time on earth or escape tragedy.  And yet, only God can appoint times and seasons.  The Teacher explains that God has made ALL things beautiful in God’s own time.  The only way to be content in life is to accept the bad along with the good, enjoy the simple blessings or eat and drink, and come to terms with the fact that our times are set by God alone.

As Christians, we understand Ecclesiastes was written before Jesus made eternal life possible for those who believe.  We have reason to hope that the Teacher did not have.  However, there are important lessons for us in today’s passage that stand on their own.  If we are going through difficulty, we should remember that for every sorrow, we have the promise that joy comes in the morning.  It’s also good for us to have a reminder that, while making healthy choices and investing in the future are important, this life is temporary for everyone.  We would all do well to take more time to enjoy the simple pleasures each day brings, for they are all blessings from God.

 

  • Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
  • Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
  • Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.

 

What are some simple pleasures you can enjoy on a regular basis  (example:  for me, it’s a good cup of coffee or a nice walk.)?  Commit to take time to thank God each time you enjoy it this week. 

 

Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?

 

What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?