Week Three – Day 4 – Ecclesiastes 4:7 – 12 SOAP v. 9-10
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
O – Solomon looks at the person who is alone, working tirelessly, but not satisfied. He has no family – for whatever reason (not married, no children, widowed, too busy?) . Whatever the case, there is no one to either enjoy the fruits of his labors, nor to leave it too. Workaholic lifestyle reigns, with the collection of “stuff” – his eyes are never satisfied. What a sad end!
But Solomon also goes on to say that two are better than one – establishing the importance of relationships. He sees the reasoning for two:
- Two are better than one – two can accomplish more together than two alone
- Two people can help each other when trouble falls
- Two can help withstand the world together (keep warm, give comfort)
- Two can help each other in protection against others or outside forces
A threefold cord (typically seen as either Father/Son/HolySpirit or two people/God) is not easily broken!
A – It’s interesting, as I typically saw the end of this passage as a “marriage verse.” But – it is on the value of true relationships. After Solomon bemoans the vanity of work and toil without companionship, family, or other relationships, he then extols the value of those relationships! Having spent over 30 years as a single mom, I can relate. When my mom lived with me, I saw the value of companionship, of sharing labor, and sharing responsibilities. But this goes beyond living conditions! This is how we should LIVE!
As Christians, we are given the Body of Christ – people in our “family of God.” The New Testament instructs us on the importance of unity – as we people struggle with that. Not only in churches, but in relationships, in family, in friendships, in ministry. We are told “how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 133:1) We are told to live in unity with the brothers, to love, to forgive, to be like-minded, to live in harmony with each other. )http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/unity-bible-verses/)
How well do I measure up with this? Do I “dwell in unity” with my brothers and sisters in church? Am I threatened by relationships, afraid to get close? Do I embrace others and welcome them into my circle? Do I work as hard in “kingdom work” as I do at home to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere? This is an area that God has been working on in me – to direct my efforts and time to welcome those in my “circle” of relationships – in the neighborhood and at church. It’s not about “me” – but about God’s family – and welcoming and helping people to assimilate into the Body.
P – Father, thank You for this reminder to be aware of those around me. Thank You for directing my paths and my heart into this area at church. Keep my eyes open to those around me – those who are sitting alone, or who are not connecting. Give me Your heart for welcoming those who need relationships. Father = help me to establish friendships with those who are like-minded, who will embrace others, who will welcome them and encourage them. Thank You for the two You brought to mind this week – and for the openings that You gave in both relationships. Help me to model Your love, and to “offer the blessing of belonging.” Oh, how I love those words – help me to live them out today – and this week!
In this section Qoheleth condemns the competitive spirit (v. 4) while calling for a cooperative one (vv. 9-12). Either prompted by envy (v. 4) or habit (v. 8) the solitary worker may secure wealth, but he has neither friends nor family. His drive for wealth has virtually dehumanized him, robbing him of companionship.
Cooperation, on the other hand, provides for great productivity (v. 9). Further, companionship provides support for the person who physically falls or has a lapse in judgment (v. 10), warmth for a cold winter’s night (v. 11), and protection against a thief (v. 12). (Asbury Bible Commentary – biblegateway)
- These four verses show us the great value of human relationships, that two are better than one. Living and working together is a great advantage to living and working alone, and adds these four things to life:
– Productivity (they have a good reward for their labor)
– Help in need (If they fall, one will lift up his companion)
– Comfort in life (they will keep warm)
– Safety and security (two can withstand) (David Guzik – Study Guide for Ecclesiastes – blueletterbible.org – http://blb.sc/001UcP)
Oh How Good It Is – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZILsLR3PH3Y&list=RDZILsLR3PH3Y#t=1
Oh how good it is
When the family of God
Dwells together in spirit
In faith and unity.
Where the bonds of peace,
Of acceptance and love
Are the fruit of His presence
Here among us.
So with one voice we’ll sing to the Lord
And with one heart we’ll live out His word
Till the whole earth sees
The Redeemer has come
For He dwells in the presence of His people.
Oh how good it is
On this journey we share
To rejoice with the happy
And weep with those who mourn.
For the weak find strength
The afflicted find grace
When we offer the blessing
Oh how good it is
To embrace His command
To prefer one another
Forgive as He forgives.
When we live as one
We all share in the love
Of the Son with the Father
And the Spirit.