Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Ecclesiastes 4

Introduction

1Vanity is increased unto men by oppression;
4by envy;
5by idleness;
7by covetousness;
9by solitariness;
13by wilfulness.

Verse 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.
I returned
Job 6:29; Malachi 3:18
and considered
3:16; 5:8; 7:7; Exodus 1:13,14,16,22; 2:23,24; 5:16-19; Deuteronomy 28:33,48; Judges 4:3; 10:7,8; Nehemiah 5:1-5; Job 24:7-12; Psalms 10:9,10; Proverbs 28:3,15,16; Isaiah 5:7; 51:23; 59:7,13-15; Malachi 3:5
the tears
Psalms 42:3,9; 80:5; 102:8,9; Malachi 2:13; James 5:4
they had
Job 16:4; 19:21,22; Psalms 69:20; 142:4; Proverbs 19:7; Lamentations 1:2,9; Matthew 26:56; 2 Timothy 4:16,17
side
Heb. hand.
Reciprocal: Exodus 3:9 - and I have;  Exodus 5:19 - evil case;  1 Kings 21:7 - Dost thou now;  1 Kings 21:13 - they carried him;  Job 20:19 - Because;  Job 24:12 - groan;  Psalm 12:5 - oppression;  Psalm 72:12 - him;  Proverbs 24:30 - went;  Proverbs 30:14 - to devour;  Ecclesiastes 1:8 - man;  Ecclesiastes 4:7 - GeneralEcclesiastes 6:11 - GeneralEcclesiastes 9:11 - returned;  Ecclesiastes 10:5 - as an;  Isaiah 51:19 - by whom;  Amos 4:1 - which oppress;  Habakkuk 1:3 - GeneralRevelation 14:13 - Blessed

Verse 2

Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
2:17; 9:4-6; Job 3:17-21
Reciprocal: Ecclesiastes 7:1 - the day;  Jeremiah 22:10 - Weep ye;  Revelation 14:13 - Blessed

Verse 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.
better
6:3-5; Job 3:10-16; 10:18,19; Jeremiah 20:17,18; Matthew 24:19; Luke 23:29
who
1:14; 2:17; Psalms 55:6-11; Jeremiah 9:2,3
Reciprocal: Ecclesiastes 1:3 - under;  Ecclesiastes 2:18 - I hated

Verse 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.
every, etc
Heb. all the rightness of work, that this is the envy of man from his neighbour.
Genesis 4:4-8; 37:2-11; 1 Samuel 18:8,9,14-16,29,30; Proverbs 27:4; Matthew 27:18; Acts 7:9; James 4:5; 1 John 3:12
This is
16; 1:14; 2:21,26; 6:9,11; Genesis 37:4,11
Reciprocal: Genesis 26:14 - envied;  Genesis 30:1 - Rachel envied;  Genesis 31:1 - Jacob;  Exodus 1:9 - the people;  Judges 8:1 - the men;  Judges 12:1 - Wherefore;  1 Samuel 17:28 - Eliab's anger;  Nehemiah 6:2 - Come;  Ecclesiastes 1:2 - GeneralEcclesiastes 1:13 - this sore;  Ecclesiastes 4:5 - eateth;  Ecclesiastes 5:10 - this;  Ecclesiastes 6:2 - vanity;  Ecclesiastes 8:14 - a vanity;  Ecclesiastes 9:11 - returned;  Ecclesiastes 12:8 - GeneralJeremiah 2:13 - broken cisterns;  Ezekiel 31:9 - envied;  Daniel 3:12 - certain;  Daniel 6:4 - sought;  Matthew 26:8 - they;  Mark 14:4 - there;  Mark 15:10 - for envy;  John 3:26 - he that;  John 10:32 - for;  John 12:4 - one;  Acts 5:17 - indignation;  Acts 13:45 - they

Verse 5

The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.
fool
Proverbs 6:10,11; 12:27; 13:4; 20:4; 24:33,34
eateth
That is, with envy, (see ver. 4,) though too idle to follow his neighbour's example.
Job 13:14; Proverbs 11:17; Isaiah 9:20
Reciprocal: Ephesians 5:29 - hated

Verse 6

Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.
Psalms 37:16; Proverbs 15:16,17; 16:8; 17:1
Reciprocal: Proverbs 15:6 - in the revenues;  Ecclesiastes 2:22 - and of the;  Luke 12:15 - for;  1 Thessalonians 4:11 - that;  2 Thessalonians 3:12 - that with

Verse 7

Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.
1; Psalms 78:33; Zechariah 1:6
Reciprocal: Psalm 39:6 - surely;  Ecclesiastes 1:3 - under;  Ecclesiastes 8:9 - this;  Ecclesiastes 10:5 - an evil

Verse 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.
one
9-12; Genesis 2:18; Isaiah 56:3-5
he hath
Genesis 15:2,3
no
Isaiah 5:8
is his
1:8; 5:10; Proverbs 27:20; Habakkuk 2:5-9; 1 John 2:16
For
Psalms 39:6; Isaiah 44:19,20; Luke 12:20
it is
1:13; 2:23; Isaiah 55:2; Matthew 11:28
Reciprocal: Genesis 33:9 - have enough;  Exodus 20:17 - thy neighbour's house;  Psalm 127:2 - vain;  Proverbs 2:4 - searchest;  Proverbs 4:7 - with;  Proverbs 11:17 - but;  Ecclesiastes 1:2 - GeneralEcclesiastes 2:22 - and of the;  Ecclesiastes 5:13 - a sore;  Ecclesiastes 6:2 - vanity;  Ecclesiastes 6:11 - GeneralEcclesiastes 8:9 - this;  Ecclesiastes 8:14 - a vanity;  Ecclesiastes 8:16 - there is that;  Ecclesiastes 11:8 - All that;  Daniel 11:4 - and shall be;  Matthew 13:22 - the deceitfulness;  Mark 4:19 - the deceitfulness;  James 4:2 - lust

Verse 9

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
are
Genesis 2:18; Exodus 4:14-16; Numbers 11:14; Proverbs 27:17; Haggai 1:14; Mark 6:7; Acts 13:2; Acts 15:39,40; 1 Corinthians 12:18-21
a good
Ruth 2:12; John 4:36; 2 John 1:8
Reciprocal: Exodus 4:27 - Go into;  Exodus 31:6 - I have given;  Judges 13:23 - his wife;  1 Samuel 23:16 - strengthened;  1 Chronicles 19:12 - If the Syrians;  Ezra 1:4 - help him;  Ecclesiastes 4:8 - one;  1 Corinthians 12:22 - General

Verse 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.
if
Exodus 32:2-4,21; Deuteronomy 9:19,20; 1 Samuel 23:16; 2 Samuel 11:27; 12:7-14; Job 4:3,4; Isaiah 35:3,4; Luke 22:31,32; Galatians 2:11-14; 6:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11
but
Genesis 4:8; 2 Samuel 14:6
Reciprocal: Genesis 3:1 - he said;  Judges 13:23 - his wife;  Ezra 1:4 - help him;  Mark 6:7 - two and

Verse 11

Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
1 Kings 1:1,2

Verse 12

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
And if
This is well illustrated by the fable of the dying father, who, to shew his sons the advantages of union, gave them a bundle of twigs, which could not be broken when bound together, but were easily snapped asunder one by one.
and a
2 Samuel 23:9,16,18,19,23; Daniel 3:16,17; Ephesians 4:3

Verse 13

Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.
is a poor
9:15,16; Genesis 37:2; Proverbs 19:1; 28:6,15,16
will no more be
Heb. knoweth not to be.
1 Kings 22:8; 2 Chronicles 16:9,10; 24:20-22; 25:16
Reciprocal: 2 Chronicles 30:2 - the king;  2 Chronicles 34:1 - eight years;  Job 32:9 - neither;  Proverbs 12:15 - but;  Proverbs 16:31 - if;  Proverbs 17:2 - wise

Verse 14

For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.
For out
This is probably an allusion to some fact with which we are unacquainted. History furnishes many instances of mean persons raised to sovereign authority, and of kings being reduced to the meanest offices, and to a morsel. Agrippa mounted the throne of Israel after having been long in prison; and similar instances are not wanting in modern times.
Genesis 41:14,33-44; Job 5:11; Psalms 113:7,8
also
1 Kings 14:26,27; 2 Kings 23:31-34; 24:1,2,6,12; 25:7,27-30; Lamentations 4:20; Daniel 4:31
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 2:8 - set them;  Luke 1:52 - put

Verse 15

I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.
child
2 Samuel 15:6

Verse 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.
no end
2 Samuel 15:12,13; 1 Kings 1:5-7,40; 12:10-16
they also
Judges 9:19,20; 2 Samuel 18:7,8; 19:9
this
1:14; 2:11,17,26 Reciprocal: Ecclesiastes 1:2 - GeneralEcclesiastes 4:4 - This is;  Ecclesiastes 5:10 - this;  Ecclesiastes 6:11 - GeneralEcclesiastes 11:8 - All that

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Ecclesiastes 4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsk/ecclesiastes-4.html.