In Ecclesiastes Chapter 4, the Teacher continues his exploration of vanity, focusing on social injustices and personal grievances. He observes the tears of the oppressed, who have no one to comfort them, and the power of their oppressors, prompting him to praise the dead over the living. This reflection leads to his questioning the value of competition and envy, which he sees as motivators for much of human labor and strife. The Teacher also discusses the vanity of solitary toil and the advantages of companionship, using the example of two being better than one for they have a good return for their labor, support in times of fall, warmth in companionship, and strength in confrontation. He considers the futility of political popularity, exemplified by a youth who rises from poverty to replace an old and foolish king, yet who may eventually be forgotten. This narrative illustrates the transient nature of power and popularity, which, like all pursuits described in Ecclesiastes, ultimately lead to dissatisfaction and emptiness. The Teacher's observations highlight the paradox of human endeavor: while striving for success and security, individuals often encounter isolation, dissatisfaction, and impermanence. Ecclesiastes 4 serves as a meditation on the value of community and the emptiness of self-centered ambition, emphasizing the importance of relationships over personal gain and the fleeting nature of status and power.

Ecclesiastes 4

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.

2  Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.

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.

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.

5  The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.

6  Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

7  Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.

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.

9  Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

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.

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

12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13  Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.

14  For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.

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

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.

End of Ecclesiastes 4

1 Year Plan:  Aug 29 - Ecc 4, Ecc 5,  Ps 99, Ps 100

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