Human society is often ruled by the cruelest of people. A close spiritual friend is of great value. Political power is meaningless.
VERSE 1. Then I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold, the tears of those who were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
NLT translation. Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless.
oppressors have great power. Even in our “enlightened” era, this is still true. More often than not, those who are the cruelest, and those can afford the best lawyers, are the ones who “win.”
The Law of the Jungle is still pretty much the modus operandi of human society.
Christians have not altered that sad reality. In fact, Christians are often a part of this problem. Or they are the problem itself.
VERSE 2. Therefore I praised the dead who have been long dead more than the living who are yet alive.
I praised the dead. Dead people no longer behold human cruelty.
For that reason, they are fortunate.
VERSE 3. Yes, better than them both is him who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
VERSE 4. Then I saw all the labor and achievement that is the envy of a man’s neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
ESV translation. The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.
eats his own flesh. A foolish person is too lazy to work for the necessities of life.
VERSE 6. Better is a handful, with quietness, than two handfuls with labor and chasing after wind.
VERSE 7. Then I returned and saw vanity under the sun.
VERSE 8. There is one who is alone, and he has neither son nor brother. There is no end to all of his labor, neither are his eyes satisfied with wealth. “For whom then, do I labor, and deprive my soul of enjoyment?” This also is vanity. Yes, it is a miserable business.
Two are better than one. A close spiritual friend is one of the greatest allies you can have in the spiritual life. You “sharpen” one another. You fire one another up for Christ and the practices of the faith.
Proverbs 27:17. Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.
Do you have a spiritual friend? How can you treasure that person?
VERSE 10. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls, and doesn’t have another to lift him up.
VERSE 11. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one keep warm alone?
VERSE 12. If a man prevails against one who is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
NASB translation. And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
two can resist him. It is great to have even one close spiritual friend.
A cord of three strands. Having two close spiritual friends is even greater than having one close spiritual friend.
VERSE 13. Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who doesn’t know how to receive admonition any more.
VERSE 14. For out of prison he came out to be king; yes, even in his kingdom he was born poor.
out of prison. Probably “out of the womb.”
VERSE 15. I saw all the living who walk under the sun, that they were with the youth, the other, who succeeded him.
they were with the youth. When the ruler finally dies, his people quickly transfer their allegiance to the new ruler.
VERSE 16. There was no end of all the people, even of all them over whom he was—yet those who come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a chasing after wind.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.