Life under the sun is a hot mess. You can't make it on your own.
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Definitions of key terms in Ecclesiastes which make it much easier to understand.
Ecclesiastes 4 Summary
Once again, we need to be reminded that the Preacher is looking at life under the sun (v1, 3, 7, 15). This is the hopeless worldview that all people who have not been raised in Christ must have, although many still chase after the wind in hopes of finding meaning in life.
But the Preacher, who is modeled after the life of King Solomon, had the unlimited resources needed to try everything there is to try, yet after experiencing it all, he concludes that those who are already dead are more fortunate than the living who are still alive (v2).
Under the sun, innovation & inventions are the product of envy and coveting as people try to out do their neighbors. People work away their entire lives, yet their eyes are never satisfied with riches (v8). Kings sacrifice to build entire kingdoms, yet those who come later will not rejoice in him (v16).
Certainly the Preacher is right... everything in life is meaningless and a striving after wind (v16).
Or is it?
One of the overarching themes of chapter 4 is the emptiness of being alone. The oppressed have nobody to comfort them; people with no family have nobody to share their wealth with; the king who can't take advice is not remembered by subsequent generations.
But once again there's hope in the hopelessness.
Verses 9-12 tell of the benefits that two have over one. This is a passage that we often read at weddings as we celebrate the love of the newly married couple. But the Preacher probably didn't have a young lovers in mind as he wrote this, but rather the protection that companionship & community brings to ancient near east travelers facing danger in the open desert.
But what about the famous threefold cord (v12)? Isn't this a prophecy of the fellowship Christians have with the Holy Spirit in their lives?
Certainly we do have the constant presence of the Spirit with us at all times, adding strength and protection. It is good to use passages like this as a springboard to the gospel, in this case pointing us to the beauty of life beyond the sun.
But don't be too quick to bypass the lesson the Preacher wants you to learn here, that you must live your life in relationship with others in the context of a broader Christian community whether you're single or married. The more cords the better.
But certainly the Preacher would agree that no matter how many strands your cord has, it's all meaningless if all you have is what's under the sun.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our eternal Father gives meaning to life.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will lead you to a strong Christian community.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: