Taking a detour between I and II Kings into Ecclesiastes.
A Time For Every Event Under Heaven
This is the famous passage, made popular in the modern age as a folk song from the Vietnam era.
The author, possibly Solomon or someone emulating him, catalogues the many events in life that have a season. He states that there is a time for ever event under heaven. This is significant because he alternates between two phrases- "under the sun" to mean the temporary things of man; and "under heaven" to mean the things of God.
This is significant because Solomon finds the things under the sun to be weary, vaporous, and vanity. But the things under heaven are eternal and worthy. He says that "There is an appointed time for everything." That's quite a contrast to all of his wailing about vanity until this point.
The event he notes are:
- birth and die
- plant and uproot
- kill and heal
- tear down and build up
- weep and laugh
- mourn and dance
- throw stones and gather stones
- embrace and shun embracing
- search and give up for lost
- keep and throw away
- tear apart and sew together
- be silent and speak
- love and hate
- war and peace
There is something so comforting in this to me. Life isn't all one thing. And the good news is, bad seasons will pass. But it also means good things come to an end. There's so much we don't understand; but God spoke through the author to say that there is an appointed time for things we may not like. No one can say "God would never..." because He listed many of the things the self-righteous would claim for themselves.
The author goes on to, seemingly, distain men for their toils and labors; but then points out that God has placed eternity in our heart to sustain us until we learn the full mysteries of God. (or we're home with Him and won't care.)
I know that there is nothing better for them to rejoice and do good in one's lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor--it is the gift of God.Ecclesiastes 3: 12-13
What a promise to stand on. Many times many parts of work are not fun. We know Adam had work in the Garden to do and we'll have work once the world is perfected. So we know work, itself, is good. But work here on earth now can be burdensome. But God connects it to a promise. That we will see good in our labors. Praise God.
I do wonder about Solomon's third person commentary about work. Even though Solomon brags about his great works early; he doesn't seem to identify himself with this kind of work. He even comments that he's see the tasks that God gave man. It almost seems like commentary that work is beneath him. Only mere moral men do it; not god-like Kings. But maybe I'm reading too much in to it.
In verse 14 he points out that God's work is eternal. There is nothing we add to it or take from it.
Then he reverts back to his observations about the vanity of life under the sun and sees no difference between man and beast.