Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which 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.”
We normally do not think of Solomon as a poet, but the first verses in Ecclesiastes three certainly point my attention in that direction.
“The Song of Solomon” is thought of by many as a great work of poetry, but I must admit my knowledge of poetry is very limited. The wisdom of Solomon is mind-boggling and chapter three is indicative of that. It is actually thought by some that his great wisdom led him nearly into a state of insanity and eventually became a burden to him.
Most are in agreement that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes in his old age, while others believe he did not write it at all. Entertaining the latter option, it is possible (and likely) this book of the Bible was not written until between 300 and 200 BCE.
I do not stand firm on either opinion because of the great worth to mankind of this very expressive and heartrending book of the Old Testament. It certainly appears to be the work of Solomon or one that knew him very well. A third possibility is the writer shared Solomon’s burden of wisdom and great wealth.
Lessons to us in Ecclesiastes one and two teach us: history repeats itself; the cycles of nature; there is nothing new; and of the vanity of life. Chapter three is actually an extension of those concepts and reminds us of the inevitability of trouble and evil, and of the relentless monotony of life.
In that there is a time and a season for everything, Solomon is reminding us to be on guard of our own feelings, attitudes and ideas of what life ought to be. He is persistent in his insistence of these certain varying circumstances in life and perhaps is serving to warn us of this fact of life. So, here we are now, 3,000 years after Solomon lived witnessing the facts of his writings. Science, philosophy and art have verified his authenticity and time has reinforced his admonitions as being very real and on point.
Ecclesiastes 3: 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Solomon’s claim that God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” can be taken as a positive or negative. The believer would argue this characteristic to which Solomon refers would also determine the hearts and minds of men knowing God exists because, without God, there would be no eternal life.
The non-believer would argue the point that the eternal perspective (or need) coincides with Maslow’s hierarchy needs of safety or perhaps even love/belonging. In such a case, the need for a God is because of a denial of the finality of death and not from a supernatural perspective of a spiritual being (God) in the least.
Man has several natural fears. Pain and suffering (both physical and mental) and death are two of those fears. Is it possible, the eternal life concept is a man created idea to rid us of that fear? This, of course, is another point in our lives where faith is a factor. No one has ever died and returned to tell us what happened except in fairy tales or capitalistic endeavors.
Solomon may have been torn between his logic and his “God-connected” self. In his writings, he obviously was in a struggle between these two concepts: Is it of the mind and the satisfaction of a human need or is it a connection to this spiritual Creator known as Jehovah God? Could one’s imagination be a contributing factor in the belief that the Holy Spirit reveals certain information to the God-connected person? This is not a question for me to even attempt to answer simply because I cannot.
The acceptance of a supernatural/spiritual realm is in the heart and mind of the believer. Solomon opened up an abundance of interrogatives that cannot be answered in a state of total agreement.
In Solomon’s relentless effort to drive us to consider the trivial in our lives, he actually stimulates us into a supernatural focus. Life is about eternity and not about life as we normally think of it.
In past articles, I have promoted the thought of Biblical prophecy in places that do not appear to be prophetic.
Solomon’s warnings to us may very well be a foreseeing of our present state of confusion and chaos in the world today. We are indeed witnessing the vanity, the redundant time process and the vexation of spirit he emphasized as those things that tormented him and now us.
It appears Solomon is helping to draw a line between the supernatural world and our current physical world of existence. If we can separate those two existences then we can better understand Solomon’s warnings and admonitions.
When we can regard life and this world as temporary and non-satisfying, then we can more powerfully and effectively embrace the spiritual realm through faith.
Perhaps Solomon was, as was Isaiah and other Old Testament writers, preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah/Savior Jesus. Because of Christ Jesus, a Solomon-type desire for a permanent and satisfying state of existence would be fulfilled.
The coming of the Savior Jesus has changed our total concept of life both now and in the afterlife. Because of Him and His sacrificial death/shedding of blood on the cross and resurrection, we have the promise and assurance of eternity that Solomon so desperately sought.
Solomon foresaw (verses 16-18) a state of both judgment and wickedness. In his wisdom, the concept of finality was very real along with the permanence of both negative and positive states. At any rate, the world found itself in need of a redeemer. We could not save ourselves and since God created us in His image (Genesis 1: 27) our eternal soul is a Biblical certainty.
We have but one option. Redemption is a must and that is only by a faith-based belief in Christ Jesus crucified for the remission of sin and resurrected.
Perhaps had Solomon lived today, rather than 3,000 years ago, he could have felt that satisfaction and permanence in the eternal perspective as we do. Only through Christ Jesus is that possible.
Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, not just a select few. 1 John 2: 2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”