Turn! Turn! Turn!

Turn! Turn! Turn![PART 9 OF 12]

The Byrds had a chart-topping song in October 1965 entitled, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)“. The song was written and composed by Pete Seeger in the 1950’s, who released the song on his album “The Bitter and The Sweet” on Columbia Records in 1962. The lyrics were taken almost verbatim from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, King James version. [Source: “Turn! Turn! Turn!“, from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia]

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

This is another deviation from the seemingly oppressive sense of frustration that Solomon consistently displayed in the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes. There is no despair in these words, no hopeless frustration caused by a dead-end search for meaning. This almost seems to be the opposite. It’s as though, in the middle of all his frustration, Solomon is beginning to understand how life is designed to work. He is beginning to realize that there is a delicate balance to life — “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Let’s explore a few of these concepts.


This is so simple and so obvious, yet so profound at the same time. This “circle of life” concept was the whole theme of Disney’s 1994 movie “The Lion King”. We are all born, and we will all die. That’s simply the way life works.

Sometimes death comes unexpectedly. Sometimes it seems unfair, even unnatural.

Young parents stand by the open grave of their precious child on a gloomy, dreary, cold winter day. This is not how life was supposed to turn out.

A young mother is left to raise her children by herself when her husband succumbs to cancer.

An entire family meets their doom on the way home from a church service at the hands of a drunk driver.

As unfair and tragic as these seem, the fact remains that we will all die. It is inevitable and inescapable. Death is as natural as life.


Happiness and sadness both have their places and their appropriate times in every person’s life.

One of the frustrating things about losing a child is dealing with the expectations placed upon you by other people.

If you cry too much or for too long, people think you are slipping into an unhealthy depression and may need drugs or counseling to help you “get over it and get on with your life”.

If you laugh too much or too soon, people think you are not dealing with your grief and may need drugs or counseling to help you be able to express your feelings of sadness so they don’t stay bottled up inside you and cause you to just explode some day.

The truth of the matter is this: every person is different, and every person handles grief in their own unique way. There is no cut-and-dried, “one size fits all” formula for grieving.

And the even-greater truth is this: happiness and sadness, joy and sorrow, are both necessary elements of the healthy, balanced life. Both are God-given emotions. There is something beautiful about the fact that a happy person can cry, and still be a happy person; a person whose heart is broken by grief can live and love and laugh and experience deep, gratifying joy, even with a broken heart. There is profound beauty in such simple balance.


There is an important lesson found over in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7:

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the [temple] messenger, ‘My vow was a mistake.’ Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.”

That lesson is reiterated in 6:11 (“The more the words, the less the meaning”), and in 10:14 (“The fool multiplies words.”).

I have heard it said that “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”


I believe the whole point of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (“a time for this and a time for that”) is that life requires balance. Birth and death, weeping and laughter, silence and speaking. Each has its place. Each has its time. Each has its purpose.

Balance is the key to a healthy life.
Paul O'Rear Signature

This is Part 9 in a 12-part series entitled “The Meaning of Life”.
Part 1: “A Little Birdie Told Me
Part 2: “Oreo Cookies and the Meaning of Life
Part 3: “Introducing King Solomon
Part 4: “King Solomon and the Oreos
Part 5: “Something Worth Waking Up For
Part 6: “Cha-Ching!
Part 7: “Wisdom, Hard Work, Achievement
Part 8: “Life is Good
Part 9: “Turn! Turn! Turn!”
Part 10: “Injustice
Part 11: “Sorrow and Joy
Part 12: “The Conclusion

NEXT: “Injustice

Photo Credit:

  1. Turn! Turn! Turn!” album cover art used in compliance with the doctrine of Fair Use.

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