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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes

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FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes 4


(The objective of these ‘Frameworks' is to provide an easy-to-read layout of the text in order then to use these individual verses for meditation. To achieve this we have used a variety of means, notes, headings, verse summaries.)



FRAMEWORKS: Ecclesiastes 4: The Hardness of Life


[Preliminary Comments : From our perspective today we might say this chapter reveals what it is like living on this ‘fallen world'. Because of free will there is sin and one expression of it is oppression [v.1], so it sometimes seems that there are better options to be alive and suffering [v.2,3]. Because we have to work there are sometimes pitfalls, so for example we drive ourselves out of envy [v.4-6] which is pretty pointless if you have no one to leave it to [v.7,8]. Reflecting on the toughness of life he ponders that it is better to have a partner to share the good and the bad [v.9-12]. From the ordinary worker he turns to how things can go wrong in national leadership [v.13-16]. As we said, living in a fallen world!]


v.1 The power of the oppressor keeps on and on

v.1  Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed— and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors— and they have no comforter. 


v.2,3 The dead or those not yet born are often better off than the living

v.2  And I declared that the dead, who had already died , are happier than the living, who are still alive. 

v.3  But better than both is the one who has never been born , who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun. 


v.4-6 Driven workers, idle workers, and the way of peace

v.4  And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 

v.5  Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. 

v.6   Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.


v.7,8 The driven worker with no children is on a pointless exercise

v.7  Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: 

v.8  There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business! 


v.9-12 The Benefits of two together

v.9   Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: 

v.10   If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 

v.11   Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 

v.12  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 


v.13-16 A foolish king and a wise young successor who fails to satisfy

v.13  Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning. 

v.14  The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. 

v.15  I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king's successor. 

v.16  There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.



Continue to Ecclesiastes 5