Verses 1-8 A time for everything
There are many great poems in the Bible and these next eight verses is one of the most popular. Every human activity great or small has its proper time. There is a right time and there is a wrong time for the events of life to happen. When people carry out their actions at the right time it will usually become a successful adventure.
There is a natural wisdom placed into the world by God. Plants and animals seem to understand this better than people do sometimes. (Song of Solomon 2:11-13) No one trains the plants and animals in the course of their activity they know their proper time to accomplish their work. They know when to mate, they know when to migrate, and they know when to hibernate.
For people to know the right time for their task they must study. The wise person will use the knowledge that he has learned from his study. The farmer knows when to sow his seed, the financial advisor knows when to invest, and the king knows when to make peace. This is how the prudent should arrange their activity.
A foolish person knows there is a right time for everything but he does not study as the wise. The foolish leave their ways to chance and when he fails he claims that it was his bad luck. Or, he may blame God, or other people, but he never places the blame upon himself. It is like myself when my wife tells me to read the directions and I think that is so unmanly.
God in His infinite wisdom has an appointed and proper time for everything. He has appointed a proper time for people to be saved. That time is now. (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Verses 9-15 Time and eternity
In the previous verses we have seen that God appoints a right time for everything as a Christians we should lean on God to direct our paths to the right time for events to happen. When things happen at the right time they are successful events. For the farmer the harvest is beautiful if the farmer gathers at the right time. A person’s death can be beautiful if their life’s work has been completed. (Numbers 20:22-29; Luke 2:25-32) Even a war if the time is right to save people from an oppressing enemy.
Events are beautiful when they happen at their right time. God has shown us even a more beautiful thing. It is eternity. Eternity is beyond the imagination of man but in his heart he knows that it is real. Eternity is there and is unchangeable, as God is unchangeable. (Hebrews 13:8)
All the work of God seems too wonderful for us to fully comprehend. Everything that God does is measured in eternity. The words we speak last for only a moment but the words that God speaks last forever. (Psalm 119:89) When one is saved he is saved for eternity. (John 3:16) The promises of God are true and eternal. (Luke 1:48-55) God lives in time, He is in eternity past, He is present in the now, and He lives on the borders of eternity.
The work that men do only last for a moment, the things that men achieve are never permanent. This is why the Christian should walk in the Spirit of God. (Galatians 5:16) The Holy Spirit will guide our walk in this world. (John 3:8; John 4:24) The Holy Spirit gives us understanding of the thoughts of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16) The Holy Spirit prepares us for our Eternal home. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
Verses 16-17 God is the Perfect Judge
There are many people in the world who lack a sense of accountability. They do not believe that there will be a final judgment of the work they have done. Solomon firmly believed that God will judge both the righteous and the wicked. He had seen evidence of that.
God is a God of order and there is a proper time for everything including judgment of mankind’s deeds. Fruit that has not ripened has a bad taste. Fruit that is old also has a bad taste. But when the fruit is perfectly ripened it has a good taste. This truth is also true for the fruits of men’s labor. (3:1-8; 3:11)
If God has appointed a time for everything, then He certainly has appointed a time to justify all that has been done. God is a just God and He will bring all His creation into accountability. (Psalm 9:7-8) God is just and everything He does is good, proper, and perfect. God would not neglect a proper time for judgment. (Deuteronomy 17:8-13)
Solomon has been taken aback by the judges in the land. It is true that judges are humans and sometimes make poor decisions. But Solomon was shocked that some of these judges did not care about what was right and the proper thing for them to do. They were more concerned for their own prestige or judge according to the gifts they could receive. (Proverbs 17:23; Micah 3:11) Solomon knew that the time for judgment was still in the future. When that proper time for judgment comes God will judge in righteousness and His judgments will be perfect.
Verses 18-22 Life After Death
One of the most important things that people should think about is what happens after death. It is a difficult subject to study but one that needs consideration. If there is life after death, then the most important thing is to have a right relationship with God the Creator.
Solomon believes there is a future after death and that God will judge everybody for their deeds in the flesh. (3:17) The evidence of partial judgments in life clearly points to the final judgment at the departure of life here in the world. Job went through great trials and tribulation in his life and it proved to him that there must be life after death. (Job 19:25-27) Job believed that God would save him form these trials and tribulations, and if not during his life here surely after death.
Solomon thought this was a hard test to believe. But God allows time of testing so that people can see their weaknesses and trust Him in faith. All here in this world are walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. God made us from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7) and at death our bodies will return to the dust. (Genesis 3:19) Until that appointed time we will carry on our work here. (3:22)
The bodies of all men and animals return to the ground at death. But Solomon knows that the body of a man is not everything. The life of a man is more than the body. Man was created in the image of God and has a conscious being. God breathed the breath of life into the man. (Genesis 2:7) Man is a spiritual being which the death of the body does not destroy. This is why man has eternity in his heart. It is not the body that is the real person but the spirit.
But we have not proven what happens to the spirit after the body’s death. Solomon asks: “Who knows of such things?” The answer is that God knows and people can know when God shows it to them. This is not a matter of human wisdom. (Isaiah 55:8-9) Only God has the answer and the wisdom to discern these things we study His Word to learn the wisdom of God.