Ecclesiastes 3:1

Verse of the Day Devotion – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (Alter)

“Everything has a season, and a time for every matter under the heavens.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (Alter)

If today’s verse sounds familiar to you, but you can’t quite put your finger on it, it’s because I’m using a translation from Robert Alter. He’s the premier US scholar of the Hebrew language and has done his own translation of the entire Hebrew scriptures. Ecclesiastes is an interesting book. It’s one of those books that has a lot of wisdom, but isn’t something that’s taught on Sunday mornings. I believe it’s because of the fact you have to unpack the book with other scripture as context to fully appreciate it. In cases like this specific verse, it seems to just acknowledge a fact about life that isn’t particularly spiritual. In fact, it was picked up and became mainstream in secular culture over fifty-five years ago. You might be familiar with it:

“To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time to every purpose, under heaven.” – Turn! Turn! Turn! (The Byrds)

Just like in the song, this passage of scripture is very poetic. Solomon, the writer of the book, hid what we would today call easter eggs within the poem. After making the declaration about the seasons, Solomon specifically chooses seven verses that outline opposite or opposing things: being born/dying, weeping/laughing, mourning/dancing, loving/hating, seeking/accepting it’s lost, and one of the more unique ones according to Alter, “A time to embrace and a time to pull back from embracing.” The hidden easter egg is the significance of the seven verses to Jewish culture. Seven being a sacred number, was something that would have been ingrained into the minds of the young children for as long as they could remember. Growing up in a western culture, we don’t really have anything like this to relate to. In movies it would be like how when the hero’s theme starts playing, we know that the hero is on his/her way and we can relax because all is about to be well.

Solomon using the number seven was an assertion that all of these things were ultimately sacred, and that he wasn’t just being poetic – there was a purpose. When we pair this with the fact that he used the extremes across all parts of life it would have signaled the original readers/listeners to realize this wasn’t just about those specific things. When Solomon said in verse four that there was a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. He was describing all of our possible emotions. The good and bad times emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

The interesting thing about verse 3:1 is that it almost seems different depending on the translation. In the Alter translation it reads as though Solomon is acknowledging that there are things that are going to happen in life, and there’s a season for it and much like the weather, there’s nothing we can do about it. There will be birth and death, mourning and dancing, and all that we can do is enjoy it when it’s great, and weather the storm when it’s bad. Then, there’s the Good News Translation (GNT)

(I know, weird translation right?
But it’s the translation of the first bible that my mom was given after becoming a Christian and had little doodles in it.
I read it a lot as a child, and some of the phrasings really stuck out to me so I like to look up individual verses in the GNT).

“Everything that happens in the world happens at a time God chooses.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 GNT

While the Alter translation talks about the events of our life being seasonal with beginnings and ends and things that seem to be inevitable. The GNT talks about how it doesn’t matter what happens, “Everything that happens in the world happens at a time God chooses.” It’s a reassurance that no matter what season you’re in God is orchestrating things. And to quote Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, “… that is an encouraging thought.”

Tomorrow, I’m going to share another verse that I think will help solidify some of the claims I made in this devotion. Thanks for reading!

  • Christiaan

It’s me again, Christiaan, if you missed yesterday’s study, you can reference it here: Ecclesiastes 3:1 as I want to build on some of the things I covered yesterday.

Psalm 103:11

Verse of the Day: Psalm 103:11

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” – Psalm 103:11 

This, to me, is a beautiful passage.

If we think about it, the height of the heavens is so great we cannot even begin to imagine it.  There are no boundaries.  It goes beyond stars, galaxies, and all things within this universe.  If we were to set out to go to the end of everything, we would never reach it.  First, we would get to the end of the universe God created and we reside in, however, after that is the realm of eternity where God resides.

What the psalmist is basically saying is that God’s lovingkindness is infinite.  There is no end to the love God has for us who fear him.  We can never conceive of anything greater than His love.  Isaiah uses the same picture describing God’s ways.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9.

Finally, Jesus stated it best when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13 And who are His friends?  “You are My friends if you do what I command you.”  John 15:14

We who are totally devoted to Him and do what He commands us, His love for us is beyond measure.  It is so great, He Himself died for us, one who never had to die, but He took on the form of man so that He could pay for our sins by His death.  I reiterate, what a beautiful passage this is.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Daniel 6:27

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Daniel 6:27

“Then these men said, “He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” – Daniel 6:27

The leaders of the Persians went before King Darius and got him to sign an injunction to make it illegal to petition any god or man other than Darius. “All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked. Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.” Daniel 6:7-9.

Daniel heard of the document and that it was signed by Darius, but he continued going to God three times a day on the roof of his house. And these commissioners and satraps observed him continuing and brought it up to the king. “Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king’s injunction, Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions’ den? The king answered and said, The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked. Then they answered and spoke before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day.” Daniel 6:12-13.

Now the king was upset that he had signed the injunction, but there was nothing he could do, for the ‘signed injunction’ was irreversible. Therefore, “Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den. The king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.” Daniel 6:16. With a heavy heart he obligated to fulfil this conspiracy by the satraps and commissioners. But notice what he tells Daniel when putting him in the lion’s den. “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.” This statement, in itself, does not imply the recognition of Daniel’s God as supreme. The historical Darius had a highly personal devotion to Ahura Mazda, who was “his god” in a way that has been compared to the God of Abraham. He regarded himself as being under the special protection of his god and could reasonably be supposed to allow that Daniel had a similar relationship with the God he worshiped. Jerome supposes that the king was so confident because he had heard the story of the three young men. Then the king sealed the opening with his signet ring.

The king goes back to his palace and was sleepless. “Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him. Then the king arose with the dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den.” Daniel 6:18-19. He wanted to see Daniel alive and well but had no confidence this was the case. When he got there, he cried out with a troubled voice, saying “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20. And then Daniel answered. “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.” Daniel 6:21-22.

Now the king was pleased and had him brought out and Darius did not see any injuries on him. The author gives the reason as “because he had trusted in his God.” Daniel 6:23b. Now, Darius was please about Daniel, but not those men who caused this to happen. “The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children, and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.” Daniel 6:24. This was a horrible thing to do, especially with the wives and children who probably had no part in this. However, this was Darius’ decision.

Darius then wrote a decree to all the people who lived in all the land. “May your peace abound! I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:25b-27. Darius wrote a decree that probably surprised many in his kingdom. That the people were to fear and tremble before Daniel’s God because ‘He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever. He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”

And we Christian’s serve this same God who delivered Daniel from the lions, who were definitely hungry which was shown by what they did to those who were thrown in afterwards. And He is able and willing to protect us from the harm that this world wants to perpetrate on us as well. The world hates us and would not be against us being taken out. However, no matter what the world wants to do, just as the commissioners and satraps wanted, we will be protected by Him who ‘is the living God and enduring forever, whose dominion will be forever, who delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, and who also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” That being our faithful and loving God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Psalm 19:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 19:1  

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” – Psalm 19:1     

One of the most beautiful things I enjoy looking at is a starry sky on a cloudless night.  I look up and see the many lights that fill the night sky and ponder just how many are there.  The vast majority of these ‘lights’ are stars that are relatively close to our planet.  Let us look at a few things.  Light travels at approximately 186,000 miles per second.  Our sun is approximately 93 million miles away.  It is so far, it takes approximately 499 seconds, or 8.32 minutes for its light to reach earth.  Whatever happens at the sun takes 8 minutes for us to see it. 

Now, our closest star, aside from the sun, is Proxima Centauri.  In contrast to the sun where the light takes 8.32 minutes to reach the earth, it takes approximately 4.23 years for light from the nearest star to reach the earth.  And according to, there are at most 8,479 stars visible from earth.  Going even farther, there are around 10,000 galaxies visible, each with millions of stars in each,  in just one image, using the Hubble Ultra Deep Field telescope.  According to NASA on the website, the closest galaxy to our milky way is some 25,000 light years away.  These are astonishing numbers.  It takes light approximately 25,000 years to reach earth. And this is the closest galaxy.   Just this alone shows the vastness of the universe.  And it is understood that the universe extends far beyond our ability to even view the outer regions of its existence. 

Many scientists believe that all matter has either existed eternally, or that it came into existence from  nothing.  These are the only possibilities aside from being a creation of God.  For nothing to create something does not make sense since change only happens based on an outside event.  And this event would have required something to trigger it, therefore it had to exist prior to what was the cause of its creation.   And, if it has always existed, it would have run out of energy and it would have died at some point, also in eternity past.

Therefore, this universe had to have been created by something that existed prior to the universe.  And it was, by an eternal God who created it for us.  And when we examine this universe, and we see  the immense size of it, the incredible order of this amazing universe, and the beauty as we look out into it from this single planet called earth.  As His word says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2.  And after having created the heavens and the earth, He brought order and life on the earth, and finally, at the end, man.  (Read Genesis chapters 1-2.)  How can we look at this, His creation, and not see God and His glory in it? 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.