Do you happen to know the name of the song that became the only international #1 hit with lyrics that were nearly 3,000 years old and came from the Bible? Late in the 1950's Pete Seeger wrote "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)," drawing almost verbatim from the King James Version of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Do you remember that song? Imagine! Seeger's song contained the oldest words ever in a contemporary hit song! Seeger did alter the last line in order to express his hopes of peace: "A time for peace, I swear it's not too late." "Turn! Turn! Turn!" became an immediate international success when The Byrds released their rendition of it in October 1965.
The author of Ecclesiastes identified himself as "the Preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem" (1:1), and traditionally it has been understood that this was King Solomon, 10th c. B.C. King of Israel. More recent scholarship has argued that the Old Testament wisdom book was written much later by someone who adopted the great King's biographical history and life perspective. Either way, Ecclesiastes is an old man's wise reflections on life "under the sun" (a phrase he loves to use in describing life on earth, under heaven; 1:14, etc.), and is a timeless book that is remarkably relevant to us today.
This Sunday we are going to look at this familiar passage and reflect on what the Preacher says about the seasons of life. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 and use the questions given below to help you meditate on this passage that became a popular folk song nearly 3,000 years later!
1. How do you understand what "the Preacher" says about life in verse 1? What do you think he means when he says that there is a season for everything and a time for every matter under heaven?
2. How many seasons does he list in verses 2-8 and what do you notice about them? Is this a complete list or would you add any seasons or matters under heaven?
3. What do these first 8 verses tell us about the nature of life on earth "under the sun"?
4. What do you think is the connection between verses 1-8 and verse 9?
5. What is the "business that God has given the children of man to be busy with?" The NIV translates this verse, "I have seen the burden God has laid on men" (emphasis added). What do you think the Preacher is talking about here?
6. Look through that list of seasons again. In what way has God "made everything beautiful in its time"? (v. 11). Are all these seasons beautiful? What does verse 11 mean?
7. What do you think it means that God has put eternity into man's heart (v. 11b)? What does the context tell you about what the Preacher has in mind when he said this?
8. What is the message of verses 12-13? (c.f., 2:24; 3:22; 5:18-20; 8:7-10).
9. What is the message of verse 14?
10. Put it all together! How would you summarize the lesson the main point of Ecclesiastes 3:1-15? What is life like and how are we to respond?
11. Is there a lesson here for you? What does the Lord want you to know?
God be with you, and hope to see you on Sunday!
Bear Creek Church
3101 S Kipling St
Lakewood, Colorado 80227