Daily Devotional Saturday 3rd February 2024

by William Moody

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

3:1 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.

The God-Given Task

What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 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. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 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. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.1

From Dust to Dust

16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. 19 For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.2 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?


[1] 3:15 Hebrew what has been pursued
[2] 3:19 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)


This first section (v1-8) is often read as speaking of the different seasons of life, but for the preacher they speak of his continued frustration of life. Life swings back and forth with many opposites and different experiences of life. There are those good days but they all have a painful opposite.

In the preacher there is a struggle going on between his faith and what he experiences. He laments the toil given to man by God (v9-10), but he also sees there is a beauty here because of God (v11). Here is a very important phrase about how God has placed ‘eternity into man’s heart’. Man looks at this world and when he tries to make sense of it all by himself, it doesn’t work, but deep down he knows there is something more.

Unlike the futile toil of mankind, the preacher acknowledges that what God does endures forever (v14). In what seems to be a futile world of human toil, he acknowledges that something else is happening.

From a human perspective people are no better than the animals when it comes to our destiny (v16-20). All return to dust, man and animal. But he asks a great question (v21). He is looking at this from mankind’s own knowledge. Left to ourselves we can never know what happens a soul after death. But the wonderful thing is that God has sent one from heaven (John 3 v13) so that we can know with certainty about what is beyond the grave.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.