REFLECTIONS ON ECCLESIASTES THREE
KEY VERSE: a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; Ecclesiastes 3:7(KJV)
The word rend means to tear with force. The Bible commonly uses it as a sign of anger, grief, or despair. People rent their garments as a sign of sorrow for sin or despair for their loss.
And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. Genesis 37:29(KJV)
Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city. Genesis 44:13(KJV)
And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.2 Samuel 3:31
And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back. Judges 11:35(KJV)
And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tiding came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left. Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth, and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent. 2 Samuel 13:20-21(KJV)
Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise, all the men that were with him: And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan, his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.2 Samuel 1:11-12(KJV)
When Jephthah saw his only daughter after his return from battle, he tore his clothes as a sign of grief. It is not a shameful thing to express grief. Many people today suffer from deep emotional wounds because of bottled-up emotions of anger and despair. David mourned the death of his son by renting his clothes and lying on the bare floor. The news of the death of Saul and Jonathan made him rent his clothes too.
Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. 1 Kings 11:11-12(KJV)
God always keeps his covenants, but when people break their part of the agreement, the Lord can tear away from them what they have previously received by covenant.
There are times when you should not rend a garment or yourselves. God forbade the priests from mourning when his judgment was on the priests who burnt strange incense. This indicates that we must discern the appropriate response to situations in the spirit. We must not join others to express emotions different from what God desires.
Then Moses told Aaron and his other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar: Don’t show your sorrow by messing up your hair and tearing your priestly clothes, or the Lord will get angry. He will kill the three of you and punish everyone else. It’s all right for your relatives, the people of Israel, to mourn for those he destroyed by fire.But you are the Lord’s chosen priests, and you must not leave the sacred tent, or you will die. Aaron and his two sons obeyed Moses. – Leviticus 10:6-7 CEV
The Soldiers recognized the value of the robe Jesus wore and knew that rending it would not serve them any purpose, so they cast a lot for it.
They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things, therefore, the soldiers did. John 19:34
Before you forcefully tear a relationship apart, consider its value and the benefits it would serve posterity; don’t focus on the pain or the betrayal. Repentance deserves the gift of forgiveness.
And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Joel 2:13(KJV)
When we show genuine repentance for our sins, God is gracious to forgive. Rending your heart by weeping for the hurt and pain you have caused others can help them believe you are truly sorry. Beyond the show of emotion, turning away from toxic habits and behavior will mend broken hearts.
Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord. 2 Chronicles 34:27(KJV)
Family disputes are better resolved than allowing individual members to tear each other apart, eventually losing their inheritances to strangers. Choose to be the spouse who forbears and forgives when you are hurt instead of using hurtful words that can tear the soul.
O Lord my God, in Thee do I put my trust. Save me from all them that persecute me; and deliver me,lest they tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces while there is none to deliver – Psalm 7:1-2 KJ21
No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old coat; if he does, the new patch tears away from the old cloth and leaves a worse hole. – Mark 2:21 CJB
When we recall previous offenses to a new conflict, it is like sewing a new cloth to an old patch; it simply makes the strife more grievous.
Seek peace at all times and look out for kind words to sew together to produce godly outcomes in a hostile or offensive environment. Abigail is an excellent example of choosing words wisely and presenting them in a manner that restrained David from evil. (1 Samuel 25:24-31)
David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you to meet me this day. And blessed be your discretion and discernment, and blessed be you, who has kept me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself by my own hand. – 1 Samuel 25:32-33 AMP
A time to sew is the time to be a bridge builder. Choosing to de-escalate conflict between brethren by refusing to be a talebearer is another way to sew. Sewing things is a good thing, but sometimes conflicts can separate the good from evil, and knowing when it is God’s will not to be a part of a relationship or organization is profitable.
Stay away from people who are not followers of the Lord! Can someone who is good get along with someone evil? Are light and darkness the same? Is Christ a friend of Satan? Can people who follow the Lord have anything in common with those who don’t? The Lord also says, “Leave them and stay away! Don’t touch anything that isn’t clean. Then I will welcome you – 2 Corinthians 6:14-15,17 CEV
A time to sew is when we make new clothes, face masks, and other garments from fabrics we have or a time to mend our old clothes. Many people always sew new clothes at the expense of other investments and priorities. “A stitch in time saves nine” is a famous quote that points to the need to sew up a tear in time before it gets worse.
Father, thank you for showing us the different ways to rend our hearts and garments. Teach us to know when and how to sew words and actions to produce your beauty around our world in Jesus’ name. Amen.