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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Anne Robertson

Saturday, February 26

A time to love, and a time to hate.
—Ecclesiastes 3:8

I don’t like anything about this verse, and I wish it wasn’t a part of the grand poem that begins Ecclesiastes 3. But God doesn’t seem to care whether I like what’s in Scripture. I’m just asked to wrestle with it until, like Jacob and the angel, it blesses me.

What can it possibly mean to say that there is a time when hate is appropriate? I went and looked up the Hebrew words here, and I noticed that both words are used to denote the coming together and taking apart in sexual love, in addition to other expressions. Having left a very bad marriage, I began to see some light in the verse.

While God is pure love, this world is not. There are times when it is appropriate to love—to take another into loving partnership, whether that be the intimacy of marriage, the deep resonance of a soul-friend, or the delights of a solid and steadfast co-worker. But love does not reign in all hearts. There are also times when it is appropriate to break such bonds, so that the overall goal of loving God, loving self, and loving neighbor can be achieved.

I don’t think the writer of Ecclesiastes is implying that in the grand scheme of the Kingdom of God that hatred will be appropriate. But I do think this verse acknowledges that while we strive for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven, it is not here yet. Until it arrives, the seasons for all things will come and go, including seasons when the bonds of love are broken for the sake of a greater good.

As with all things that fall short of God’s perfect will, the “time to hate” is incredibly painful, and we rightly strive for another way. But while we live between the now and the not yet, to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.


God of all seasons, may the days of your kingdom come soon. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.