New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:1 a time to every purpose. In Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 of this chapter there is a remarkable listing of twenty-eight “times,” arranged in fourteen pairs of opposites (e.g., “a time to be born, and a time to die”). Every timed event has a “purpose” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and every thing is “beautiful” in God’s time for it (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Even when in our time, we may not understand how a particular event can be either purposeful or beautiful, we can have faith that, in God’s time, it is (Romans 8:28). Although it is beyond our finite comprehension, it is still bound to be true that the infinite God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11).
3:2 a time to die. God has appointed a time for each individual, and it is wrong for us to shorten that time (by suicide or by careless living). Our times are in His hands (note Psalm 31:15; also Ecclesiastes 7:17).
3:11 every thing beautiful. If there is anything in the world that is ugly, it must be attributed ultimately to sin; God did not make it so.
3:11 the world. Literally, God “hath set eternity in their hearts.” Even though we cannot now comprehend the total plan of God, each person has an innate awareness that God does exist and does have a purpose in creation.
3:14 shall be for ever. In addition to emphasizing the immutability of God and His works, this passage anticipates the great scientific principle of conservation (conservation of energy, mass, momentum, charge, etc.). Nothing is now being either created or annihilated. An entity may be changed in character and even deteriorate in quality, but it must be conserved in quantity.
3:15 requireth that which is past. Just because a deed is past and forgotten by other men, this does not mean God has forgotten. “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
3:17 God shall judge. In the time of Solomon, very little had yet been revealed concerning the nature of the ultimate judgment of all men. Nevertheless, he realized that the very fact of right and wrong and the intuitive moral consciousness in man assured him that there must be such a judgment some day.
3:20 of the dust. This statement merely refers to the universal curse pronounced by God on man and all his dominion because of sin. Both men and beasts were made out of the basic elements, the “dust of the ground,” and their bodies return to dust again at death. This principle is expressed scientifically as the law of increasing entropy. See on Genesis 3:17-19.
3:21 goeth upward. “Spirit” is the same word as “breath”; in this sense, both men and beasts have “spirit,” but the breathing apparatus ceases to function at death. “Spirit” may also refer to that aspect of man which communicates with God’s Spirit, and which returns to God at death (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Animals do not have this.