Let’s finish off chapter 4: Ecclesiastes 4:9-16
v9: Two are better than one: Gen 2:18. Many people remain single not because they can’t get married but because they’re afraid to get married because of what they might have to give up (independence, freedom, possessions, time etc). They do not want to take the chance of investing in another who might possibly betray them, return evil for good etc.
- Good reward: When we labour for another, goodness comes. Why? A marital covenant is an instrument that has the potential to manifest the character, the power, the qualities, the nature of G-d. Others see this interaction – marriages should have a testimony of the willingness to forgive, the willingness to overlook, the willingness to invest in each other, to build someone else up etc
v10: Companion: This is a word that speaks about a unique relationship.
- Noone to help him: When those who are close to us fall, we need to lift them up. In the same way, when we fall, we need the help and encouragement of our loved ones to also pick us up and to be there for us.
v11: Another image that alludes to the marriage covenant.
v12: Threefold cord (rope): A rope that is braided three times is much stronger than a single stranded rope. In this chapter we have read about the lifestyle of a single person and how easy it is to develop selfish habits when we are alone (Eccl 4:8). Solomon then went on to speak about marriage and how it teaches us (hopefully) to be giving, to be thoughtful of another person. Now, suddenly, Solomon focusses our attention on three. The question we should ask ourselves is this: Where’s that third strand coming from? Marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman and G-d. As we are faithful to G-d in our marital covenant ‘the two will become one’ (Gen 2:24). This oneness is an outcome of both individuals, the husband and the wife, being faithful to G-d in every aspect of their lives.
- Broken: Cut off.
v13: Better…poor and wise: If there is a choice between wealth and wisdom it is better to choose wisdom.
- Foolish king: What has made the king foolish? Wisdom should come with age, but this king has been king for a long time and is used to doing what he wants, utilizing his authority without restraint. No matter how high the position we find ourselves in always act with restraint (don’t do what you can do, but do what you should do). Just because we have authority doesn’t mean we don’t need to restrain ourselves.
- Be admonished no more: The king no longer knows how to accept caution or discipline/advice. He thinks he sets the boundaries and refuses to function within the boundaries set for him.
v14: Comes out of prison: This is the exact opposite to the story of Joseph. Joseph was in prison because of righteousness (running from Potiphar’s wife) but this person, who becomes king, was in prison because of a lack of restraint or discipline /for breaking the law – for an act of unrighteousness. Those who lack wisdom do not have a fear of G-d. When criminals or ill-disciplined people are put into power the result will be a nation thrown into poverty (many of the governments today do whatever they want to do and as a result every nation is in debt).
v15: Walk under the sun: They would rather not practice restraint if it led to them being in a place of prominence, if it led to them being wealthy. They want to build themselves up even though in the end they know that it will lead to lack or impoverishment for future generations.
v16: No end: People make the same mistakes from generation to generation. There’s no change. We don’t learn from one another. Each generation experiences the same emptiness and futility.