Ecclesiastes 4

I returned to God and saw that all is vanity
Text
Explanation
 1 ¶ So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
 2  Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
 3  Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
  1 - I returned and considered Or "I reconsidered."
  1 - Oppressions The strong and rich have often pressed down the weak and poor jb3509, am0309, 1sa1204.
  1 - Tears of the oppressed We have a God who cares ps03912, ps05609, is3805.
  2 - Praised ... more than the living Or "congratulated" them. Compare jb0313, mt2624. Solomon spoke as if the dead could hear as we might speak to a house or a car. His point was, it's sometimes better to be dead than oppressed. Suicide would not be an option ex2013, jb0608,9.
 4 ¶ Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
.5  The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.
 6  Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.
  5 - Eateth his own flesh The one who eats but is too lazy to work does not plant and cultivate. While he eats, he and his family head for starvation 2th0310.
7 ¶ Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.
 8  There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
 9  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
 10  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
 11  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? 
 12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

  7 - Vanity Or "inappropriate pride of a person in his or her self or appearance."
  8 - One alone This introduces an important lesson for those of us who are happily married or have close friends. We need to go out of our way to be a friend to those with few friends to love the unlovely.
  12 - Threefold cord Some have seen the trinity in this verse and have also associated it with the three disciples often with Jesus. The context argues against these ideas. The trinity is not a progression. All three were present at the creation of the earth ge0102, ge0126
Image from goodsalt.com (I may have used it for David)
 13 ¶ Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.
 14  For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.
 15  I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.
 16  There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
  13 - Child The hebrew word is used for a young man. Joseh was a child at age 17 ge3730. Also see 1ki1208-14, 2ch1008.
  13 - King ... admonished Might the counsel needed by good kings have been expressed as advice to Lemuel? pr3101. Bad decisions of a king are are worse than decisions of children.
  14 - Out of prison ... reign A principle drawn from the story of Joseph ge4143, ps10521.
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