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Bible Commentaries
Ecclesiastes 4

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-3

Ecc 4:1-3

OPPRESSION AND THE OPPRESSED

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

"Then I returned and saw 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. Wherefore I praised the dead that have been long dead more than the living who are yet alive; yea, better than them both did I esteem him that hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun."

"On the side of the oppressors there was power" (Ecclesiastes 4:1). "The point here is not merely that there is power, but that power corrupts.” On the basis of what is said here, we may conclude that there was at least some degree of sympathy on Solomon’s part for the oppressed; yet he himself had oppressed hundreds of thousands of the residual Canaanites, making slaves of them. Here he views all the suffering; and, "Although he might have had some feeling for them, he did not move a muscle to change their lot.” He just stood by, a picture of indifference and unconcern. How different is this attitude from that of the great prophets who so vigorously and effectively shouted the anathemas of God against the oppressors; and indeed what a contrast there is here with the Christ who had compassion on the multitudes, fed them when they were hungry, healed all their diseases and thundered the message, "Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven" (Luke 6:20). "Behold a Greater than Solomon"! (Matthew 12:42); and incredibly pathetic is the blind folly of Israel who rejected Christ because he was not another Solomon!

Ecclesiastes 4:1 “I looked again” indicates that he is considering the same theme in this section that he was discussing in chapter three. The “again” implies that a new illustration of injustice or the inequities of life is under consideration. On two occasions the qualifying phrase “under the sun” appears in these three verses which indicates that what one observes is apart from heavenly values. The act of social injustice that now arrests Solomon’s attention illustrates the vanity of all earthly things and endeavors.

One is confronted with a very basic problem that is common to all men of every age: Why is it that wicked men prosper and often have the authority on their side, while the righteous are often poor and suffer oppression? Since this is often the situation, and it appears to be so in Israel at this time, one is lead to the erroneous conclusion that wickedness pays profitable dividends while godliness results in poverty and affliction. If one interprets the meaning apart from the “heavenly values,” the conclusions could indeed be very dismal. The extreme statements of the Preacher in these three verses must be understood in this light. If one fails to interpret his observations in the light of the “under the sun” restrictions, he finds the Preacher contradicting himself later on in his message. However, Solomon knew what we know about the justice of God. He knew that God is patient, long-suffering and correct in all of His dealing with men. It is from this vantage point that he writes, “Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God” (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13).

Because of similar circumstances today, one of the most difficult things is for the Christian to keep his priorities in order. There are certain values which belong within the inner circle, next to the heart, in one’s life. At the same time, there are “things” which must be kept on the periphery, and constantly challenged to keep them from eroding the truer values or invading the inner circle where “things” have no claim. Yet, how many people do you know who are living purposeless lives simply because they have allowed themselves to be deceived by the riches of this world, or the pleasures derived from participation in such evil deeds of injustice that meet the Preacher’s searching eyes in our text? The extreme observations of verses two and three would be the most plausible in the world if this life were all there is to living. The young man struck down in the prime of his life; the young mother left without guardian, provider or companion; the poor, neglected and often persecuted by wicked men who grow fat from withholding what should be shared with the less-fortunate, or even at times what is rightfully theirs; they all cry out to the emptiness of living and the futility of the life that thousands must endure on the face of the earth. However, such was the situation described in detail by James (Ecclesiastes 5:1-6), and in view of all that Jesus Christ means to the Christian he was able to admonish them to steadfastness and joy with the words, “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:8-9).

What is the oppression? In Ecclesiastes 5:8 we are instructed again not to be “shocked” by such oppression as it may very well be commonplace among us. In any system where men govern men, authority is often corrupted. It may be that in carrying out the necessary instructions of the king in accomplishing his great works (cf. Ecclesiastes 2:1-11), that the result was that which the Preacher now observes. There were many areas where authority could be violated and the process of graft take place. With a king so obsessed with the desire for personal pleasure, many such violations of justice could go unnoticed throughout the land.

The intensity, and perhaps widespread influence, of the oppression was evident in the actual tears of the poor. If they only had a just man who was in an authoritative position to plead their cause. But no! The authority is on the side of those who are persecuting them. They might turn to one another for some word of encouragement, but this would be hurt turning to hurt. They needed healing. Yet, there was no one to heal them.

It is not a picture of a merciless tyrant holding all the people under the authority of his rule. It is rather the picture of a thoughtless king who has only his own interest at heart and closes his eyes to the cries of the innocent who are trampled in his pursuit of pleasure and personal satisfaction. Perhaps enough people in the land were enjoying the superfluity, or overflow, of the king’s wealth. In this case those who suffered were not numerous enough to mount any meaningful rebellion against the wickedness of those in high places.

Ecclesiastes 4:2 When the Preacher contemplated such a sight, he quickly decided that the fortunate ones were those who have already died and do not have to share in this travesty of justice. Congratulating the dead is a rather dramatic, picturesque description demonstrating that such behaviour would actually be humorous if it were not so serious.

Ecclesiastes 4:3 Upon more serious contemplation, he decided that there is one who is better off than either the living or the dead, and that is the individual who has never been born! He is not speaking of abortion in order to shut out the life of one before he sees the light of day, but rather the one never conceived or possibly miscarried (Ecclesiastes 6:3). Such a one will never have to feast his eyes upon the evil activities taking place in the midst of what has once been a nation noted for her justice and righteousness.

Verses 4-6

Ecc 4:4-6

Ecclesiastes 4:4-6

THE WORTHLESSNESS OF LABOR

"Then I saw all labor, and every skillful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is a vanity and a striving after wind. The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh. Better is a handful with quietness, than two handfuls and striving after wind."

"For this a man is envied of his neighbor" (Ecclesiastes 4:4). "Some understand the meaning of this verse as a description of work which is the effect of rivalry with a neighbor." This rendition carries that implication: "I saw that all a man’s toil and skill is expended through the desire to surpass his neighbor; this, too, is an empty thing and a clutching at the wind."

In this paragraph the author returns to the question that he asked in Ecclesiastes 1:3, "What does man have to show for all his trouble"? In all such statements as this, Solomon’s viewpoint is centered absolutely upon the present world, taking into account no thought whatever of God.

Waddey’s comment on this paragraph: "In a godless world, sinners envy and resent another’s success, rather than rejoicing in it; and in contrast he mentions the lazy fool who, rather than work, `foldeth his hands together’ in rest, and `eateth his own flesh,’ he consumes his inheritance.” Another view of the fool mentioned here is that he represents the envious man. "The envious man is here exhibited in the attitude of the sluggard (Proverbs 6:10).” In this understanding of it, the fool’s eating his own flesh would mean the same as the common saying that, "He was eating his heart out with envy."

"Better is a handful with quietness" (Ecclesiastes 4:6). Here again we find thoughts that are identifiable with Solomon, as in Proverbs 15:16-17; Proverbs 17:1 and in Proverbs 16:8:

ANOTHER WORD ON THE WORTHLESSNESS OF LABOR

"These two paragraphs on labor view it from different perspectives; first, from the perspective of envy, and secondly, from the perspective of solitariness.” Also in this second paragraph, a number of illustrations are given to illuminate the real point.

Another example of the futility of life now comes into the Preacher’s view. Is the goal of life to become the most successful person in your community? Many today would say yes. At least their activities betray that desire. Human nature hasn’t changed. The clear-cut picture of rivalry serving as the motivating factor for work evidently possessed the hearts of men in Solomon’s day as it does today.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 It has been asked, “If the motive is tainted, how can the fruit actually satisfy?” This is the case here. Since it stems from a jealous spirit, and a desire to excel one’s neighbor that the individual labors, he discovers that his accomplishment is unrewarding. Once he can honestly say, “I have accomplished more, and gathered and collected more than those around me,” what does it really mean? The satisfaction is very fleeting. The term “skill” suggests that one spends hours in developing the ability to produce something that will bring an earthly profit. He is willing to labor tirelessly and become expert in his affairs, but since it was motivated by an unworthy desire, it accomplishes nothing.

Ecclesiastes 4:5 By “fool” we are to understand a sluggard or stupid person. He is in contrast to the individual who works skillfully as the fool does not have the wisdom to develop expertise in any area. His slothfulness, that leads him to the comfort of the couch, and causes him to fold his hands and sleep during the day-light hours, is despicable, but he concludes that he isn’t any worse off than the wise man who is improperly motivated to such extreme industry. “Consumes his own flesh” is not a reference to cannibalistic practices, but the excess energy of his body is consumed through indolence rather than productive work.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 The problem confronted in this verse is not one of translation, but rather to whom should the statement be attributed? Is it spoken by the fool or the one writing the book? If it is the testimony of the fool, he is actually saying that he will not become conspirator in such folly as driving himself to working day and night just to keep pace with his neighbor! On the other hand, if the Preacher is making the remark (cf. the Paraphrase, Ecclesiastes 4:6), then the statement is to be interpreted as somewhat of a compromise between the two extremes and is more in harmony with the stated conclusions of the book (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 3:22). The fool has not chosen the wiser way as both men under consideration reach the same conclusion. Slothfulness and improperly motivated industry are both unrewarding and vain. “One hand full of rest” could easily be understood as saying, “Don’t get on the treadmill. Just take life day-by-day and rejoice and do good in your lifetime.”

Verses 7-12

Ecc 4:7-12

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12

"Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun. There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second; yea, he hath neither son nor brother; yet is there no end of all his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with riches. For whom then, saith he, do I labor and deprive my soul of good? This also is vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

Barton gave only one subject to this whole chapter, calling it, "Man’s Inhumanity, namely, (1) man’s inhumanity to men (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3), (2) the inhumanity caused by rivalry and envy (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6), and (3) man’s inhumanity to himself.”

"No end of all his labor, neither is his eye satisfied with riches" (Ecclesiastes 4:8). This denounces avarice, especially that of the miser, who having neither partner nor heir, nevertheless pursues money as if he were starving to death. "The avaricious soul is never satisfied.” The picture here is that of the workaholic, the man with whom constant work has become a disease. It is strange indeed that. "A man without companion or family, will act as though there was someone to live for.”

"Two are better than one" (Ecclesiastes 4:9). This is evidently an old proverb, similar to the modern cliche that, "two heads are better than one."

"If two lie together, then they have warmth" (Ecclesiastes 4:11). "The reference here is not to husband and wife, but to travelers. Nights in Palestine are cold, especially in winter; and a lone traveler will sleep close to his donkey for warmth.” Here may be one of the secrets why Christ sent out his apostles in pairs. Nothing is any more pitiful than a completely isolated human being.

"A threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12). This paragraph stresses the value of companionship. "If companionship of two is valuable, much more then is the value if others are added.”

Although we suggest here that the theme is that riches should be used for practical good, there is also the theme that friends or companions may be of much greater value than wealth. These two ideas run concurrently through these verses. It is obvious that money will not bring comfort, warmth, protection, companionship, or personal satisfaction. Yet, men have always faced the temptation to accumulate wealth for wealth’s sake. This illustration is justifiable in the Preacher’s mind as it represents a major area of concern in every age. It was typical of those who lived when Jesus was on the earth in the flesh. Indeed it was Jesus who taught us that riches are deceitful (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19). They will lead one to believe that they bring lasting fulfillment and satisfaction, while in reality no amount of riches will do that. In addition, Jesus taught that they may have an adverse effect and not only fail to satisfy but shut out or “choke” the very means by which one can find personal enjoyment. As the reader shall see, much of what Solomon says in the following two chapters simply amplifies this same theme.

Ecclesiastes 4:7 It is noteworthy that he labels such concern for wealth “vanity.” He knows. He was not one to take opinion polls or inquire of rich friends what such a desire for money and possessions did to their lives. He wanted first-hand information He wanted to speak authoritatively on the subject so he became the richest man of his day. Yet, he calls it unfulfilling and empty. Of course, there is the ever-present safeguard for his observation. He is talking from the “under the sun” viewpoint. There is neither virtue in poverty nor evil in wealth. It is the attitude one has toward riches that becomes the issue.

Ecclesiastes 4:8 Note the improper attitudes of the one he describes. (1) He was not gathering a fortune with a view to the security of an heir or companion. (2) There was no end to his labor. His sole purpose in life was to collect more and more riches. (3) He became exceedingly wealthy, and yet he was never satisfied with the amount he had collected. (4) He deprived himself of what might have been meaningful pleasures to him. Money appears to satisfy because it seems to be saying that it is the answer to every problem, but perhaps this is the very deceit-fulness that Jesus was talking about. Rather than finding that it resolves one’s problems, it becomes the very entanglement that produces loneliness, jealousy, frustration, worry and distrust. Numerous present-day examples of extremely wealthy men could easily be given as vivid illustrations of this very truth. The man never stopped and asked himself, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” His attitude was not one of compassionate, benevolent concern. It rather spoke to selfishness and greed. Thus, it is truly empty and a grievous task.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 It appears that Solomon has now turned to the value of companionship rather than riches. However, he is only illustrating that riches are of value if they are properly acquired and subsequently shared with a friend. In verse nine the idea of “a good return” suggests a profit. This is the basic question before him. Since the accumulation of wealth, regardless of how much, does not bring satisfaction or produce a profit when it is collected with the improper attitude, what does? A friend does. As a matter of fact, wealth is an improper choice to make if it robs you of your friends. There are many choices in life which are based on choosing between two things when it is obvious that one cannot have both simultaneously. He cannot isolate himself with his riches thinking this will bring him enjoyment and at the same time divide his riches with a friend. Life is just that way. In his hour of need, the rich man turns to his fortune for help only to realize what James meant when he wrote: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire” (James 5:1-3). But it is different with a friend. While it is true that two would have a greater return for their labor than one, this is obviously not the intent of the statement. One can use only so much wealth and then everything beyond this becomes excessive. The rich man of verse eight was undoubtedly past this point. It moves the idea of profit or “return” into the area of the spiritual or emotional where one shares in the value of a personal friend.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 Undoubtedly the intention is to refer back to the miser with the statement—“But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” In what sense does he fall? The most obvious is a physical fall which could occur on the dangerous and narrow roads of Palestine. In such a case, to have a companion to assist would be of great value. The idea may just as well be applied to moral falls and thus one would have a friend indeed if he encouraged and led one back to repentance (James 5:19-20). The idea, however, which seems to best fit the context would be a “financial collapse.” When one sees his fortune slip from his hands quickly, which occurs often without warning, then it is important to have a friend come to the rescue. Many men have experienced the loss of financial security and terminated their own lives because no friend was standing close by with a helping hand. When a man purposely shuts out close friends because he has no time to cultivate them, or he intentionally remains aloof of meeting needs or ministering to those in lesser circumstances than himself, he has made the choice of a fool. Jesus recognized the wisdom of choosing the better part when he sent his followers out “two by two” instructing them that they should not be concerned for the physical things of life (Luke 10:1; Luke 10:4).

Ecclesiastes 4:11 Once again the miser is in the center of the stage. How can “one” be warm alone? It is obvious that he has sufficient resources to purchase warm coverings for his bed, but this doesn’t seem to be the implication of the verse. There is an inner warmth that comes because of close friendship. One shares in kindred goals and intents of the heart. It is possible that Solomon could have reference to poor circulation in old age and the warmth of a physical body stimulates circulation and produces some comfort in such circumstances. Solomon knew of his father’s experience with Abishag who was selected purposely to attend the king and lie with David to keep him warm (1 Kings 1:1-4).

Ecclesiastes 4:12 The term “alone” appears again to indicate that the rich man who stands by himself is the common denominator for this illustration too. The implication of the “threefold cord” is that if one friend is of greater value than riches, then there is truly great strength in having two genuine, trusted friends. Many things may overpower an individual, but in like manner those who willingly come to our rescue may deliver us from many different kinds of circumstances. Endless examples could be given to illustrate this truth. The tragedy here is that regardless of the opposition or the adversary, the man doesn’t have a single friend to assist him in his need. Even when the dust of battle clears and you know you and your friends have lost, there is often warmth and inner peace in realizing that you had those who cared and personally sacrificed of themselves or possessions to defend you. Any such allusion in this verse to the Godhead or the Father, Son and Holy Spirit by the reference to the threefold cord would be out of harmony with the context and purpose of the book. It cannot be denied that if God is for us, no one can stand against us (Romans 8:31), and we have no greater friend than Jesus (John 15:14-15), but these are New Testament applications which are only based on principles that are taught in this text. Of course, the Christian rejoices and thanks God for the truth!

It is obvious that each of the verses in this section is related. The miser is the principle character and the vanity of riches is the central theme. Much is said for true friendship. It is a simple matter once again of a proper arrangement of one’s priorities in life. Many people are obsessed with money and other forms of riches. Nearly everyone wants more than he presently possesses. It is an important lesson that overrides the examples and observations, and it is a lesson that will appear many times before the Preacher is completed with his message. One should be impressed with the threat a wrong attitude toward wealth is to the soul. A prayer of thanksgiving should be offered to God for constantly placing the signposts before our eyes to keep us from the deceitfulness of riches and forewarning us that they may easily choke out the Word of life.

Verses 13-16

Ecc 4:13-16

Ecclesiastes 4:13-16

DANGERS OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY AND ISOLATION

"Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more. For out of prison he came forth to be king; yea, even in his kingdom, he was born poor. I saw all the living that walk under the sun, that they were with the youth, the second that stood up in his stead. There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was: yet they that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind."

Some have tried to find the Biblical story of Joseph in this, but without success. "It is probably a parable, of a poor youth who through wisdom rose to be king.”

"They that come after" (Ecclesiastes 4:16). "This refers to those of a later generation who were not present when the youth became king.”

We find it difficult to understand what is meant here. Kidner’s interpretation appears to be the best available. "The paragraph has its obscurities; but it portrays something common in public life, the short-lived popularity of the great. First there was the stubbornness of the old man who had been king too long.” There are elements in this which suggest both the rise of Joseph to kingly dignity, and that of David whose second half of the kingship so vividly contrasted with the first half; but nearly all scholars agree that, "The passage was not designed to be historical.”

The big points in the paragraph are (a) the bad example of the foolish old king too stubborn to take advice, who, of course, lost his throne, and (b) the fickleness of the public who afterward hated the wise youth who succeeded the old king.

Sir Walter Scott, whom I quoted in my first commentary (Matthew), and whom I’m glad to quote also in this my last one, paid his respects to the fickleness of public opinion in these words:

"Who o’er the herd would wish to reign?

Fantastic, fickle, fierce, and vain,

Vain as a leaf upon the stream,

And fickle as a changeful dream,

Fantastic as a woman’s mood,

And fierce as frenzy’s fevered blood;

Thou many headed monster thing,

O, who would wish to be thy king"?

Although the subject changes from the deceitfulness of riches to the fleeting popularity of even a king, the same general lesson is pursued. Solomon is setting forth argument after argument to substantiate the fact that life lived under the sun is futile. The example is of the poor lad who assumes leadership of the land and is first praised and then forgotten. Solomon explains it once again in detail and then identifies such activity as “vanity and striving after wind.” The example not only reveals the lack of personal fulfillment on the part of the former king and the lad who became king, but it also reveals the fickle attitude of citizens of the kingdom. One is immediately reminded of the behaviour of the Jews in the days of Jesus when at one moment they are proclaiming Him as “the Son of David,” and the one who comes “in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9), and shortly after the same people are crying for his blood (Matthew 26:66).

Many have interpreted this section as prophetic, stating that the fulfillment came upon Solomon’s death and the coming of Jeroboam to reign over the ten tribes to the north. (Cf. discussion on Ecclesiastes 2:18) While the parallel is evident and one would not want to argue strenuously against such an interpretation, the important lesson in this section should not be overlooked. Of course, if Solomon is the king who is old and foolish, and Jeroboam is the one who comes out of prison (figurative for his exile in Egypt), then the futility of the entire experience becomes much more exasperating to Solomon. It would not take much imagination to hear him declare, “Vanity! Vanity! Vanity!”

Ecclesiastes 4:13 The two extremes are clearly stated. The lad is poor, in prison, yet wise. The king is old, foolish and set in his ways. The country will be better served by the lad than the king. It is possible that the situation could be an historical one unknown to us today but clearly seen by those in the days of Solomon. A neighboring country could have just experienced such a change of rule. But neither is this important to the understanding of the text.

The present king will no longer accept advice or counsel. Undoubtedly he began his rule humbly which is typical of many in the early days of control. However he has grown self-sufficient and no longer will he entertain ideas or suggestions. The term “kesil” (foolish) actually means he proved himself to be a stupid fool. Although there are three words in the Hebrew translated “fool” in our language, this particular one is used some 24 times in Proverbs alone. It is not a complimentary term as one may conclude by reading the references where it is used in Ecclesiastes: Ecclesiastes 2:14-16; Ecclesiastes 4:5; Ecclesiastes 4:13; Ecclesiastes 6:8; Ecclesiastes 7:6; Ecclesiastes 10:12; Ecclesiastes 10:15.

It does not necessarily follow that it is because of the wisdom on the part of the young man, through crafty and cunning ways, that he became king. It is just that the land is better off with such a lad who is wise than a king who has become foolish.

Ecclesiastes 4:14 It is important to Solomon’s conclusion that he demonstrate the extremes, In this verse he pictures the lad as having been shut up in prison. One wonders if the king saw him as a threat to his throne and had him imprisoned. On the other hand, he was born in the most unlikely home to ascend to the throne. He was born a citizen of the land, but in very poor circumstances. To realize that one can rise from unlikely circumstances to become king, to supplant one who already has control, demonstrates the lack of security of life even in the highest office of the land. This is what Solomon intended to communicate to his readers.

Ecclesiastes 4:15 For a little while the new king will bask in the moment of triumph. He may have dreams of enduring, being remembered and his name proclaimed throughout the land for the remainder of his days, but such a dream will not become a reality under the sun! His success, like the miser’s money, glistens only when the sun shines. Once the fleeting moment of success is past and the multitudes realize that what they have is another human being like themselves, his popularity will be a thing of the past.

Ecclesiastes 4:16 So typical of the word vanity is this verse. In one short breath one reads of the multitude thronging to his side, singing his praises and leading him to believe that he is indeed their redeemer. In the same short verse, however, the scene has changed completely and we picture the very next generation asking, “Who is he?” They do not have the same respect for him and are no longer happy or satisfied with his rule. The final utterance of the Preacher in this section is the oft-repeated conclusion of all matters experienced under the sun. He declares, “This too is vanity!”

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness, Advancement - Ecclesiastes 4:1-16

Open It

1. What do you think motivates most successful people to achieve?

2. What sort of qualities do you look for in a friend?

3. What type of person do you think is most content with his or her job?

Explore It

4. What did Solomon see taking place under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 4:1)

5. What did Solomon say about oppression? (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3)

6. What is the theme of this chapter? (Ecclesiastes 4:1-16)

7. How would you describe Solomon’s mood? (Ecclesiastes 4:1-16)

8. Whom did Solomon declare to be happiest of all? (Ecclesiastes 4:2-3)

9. Why do people work to achieve? (Ecclesiastes 4:4)

10. From what do all achievements spring? (Ecclesiastes 4:4)

11. What did Solomon say about toil? (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6)

12. What did Solomon think of tranquillity? (Ecclesiastes 4:6)

13. What meaningless thing did Solomon see "under the sun"? (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8)

14. What did Solomon say about friendlessness? (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12)

15. Why are two better than one? (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

16. What did Solomon say about young people? (Ecclesiastes 4:13)

17. What did Solomon say about advancement? (Ecclesiastes 4:13-16)

18. What did Solomon conclude was meaningless? (Ecclesiastes 4:13-16)

Get It

19. How is the oppression taking place in our society like or unlike the oppression that took place during Solomon’s day?

20. In what sense might it be better to be dead than alive?

21. How does evil make life seem meaningless?

22. In what way do achievements spring from envy?

23. What can we do to be content and not envious?

24. What makes work meaningful or meaningless?

25. Why are friends and friendship important?

26. If advancement is meaningless, why do so many people strive hard to achieve it?

Apply It

27. What is one specific thing you can do to improve the quality of your friendships?

28. What is something you can do this week to make your work more meaningful?

29. What do you want to remember the next time you feel envious of someone else?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ecclesiastes 4". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/ecclesiastes-4.html.
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