Daily Bible Insight: Ecclesiastes 4-7
Welcome to today’s edition of the Daily Bible Insight! Today, we’ll delve into Chapter 4 of Ecclesiastes and continue through Chapter 7. Let’s take a look at Chapter 4:
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.
Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 (KJV)
Some pretty powerful words, eh? Let’s examine this a little further. Here, Solomon is considering all the afflictions and trials that us as humans endure day by day. Solomon is saying that over the course of a day, the state of such a broken world would make anyone want to cry, but most of us suppress our tears because we have no comforter and neither do the oppressors (they may think they have power over those whom they oppress, but God has the power. Amen.). Again, it is important to understand that Solomon is not saying that we have no God that can comfort us. He is simply talking about the condition of man in a world that was without Christ at the time. Jesus himself says in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” (KJV, highlights mine) Verse two by all means might be a little shocking to us, “Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.” Was Solomon thinking of suicide? What was going on in Solomon’s head here? Again, we have to understand that Ecclesiastes is one of those books that cannot be taken in an essentially literal approach. We also have to understand that none of us are as wise as Solomon, who is writing these things with the inspiration of God. If we look at this verse in relation to what he says in verse one, we see that Solomon is simply saying that those who are dead have endured the trials and afflictions of this world and those who are dead will enjoy everlasting peace. Why did I use the word will? Before Christ, even who the Bible calls righteous men were in Hell, because Christ had not come to reconcile man back to God. Solomon, through his wisdom, already knew that those people would inherit eternal life and that those living on the Earth would have to live in a world full of sin and evil and then retire to eternal life. In fact, the Bible even talks about those righteous men and what happened to them when Jesus died on the Cross. “51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” The bodies of those righteous men who were dead were raised and they walked about in Jerusalem. How amazing! This is why Solomon said what he said. These righteous men were eventually delivered and brought into everlasting life! Surely, my friend he can do the same for you if you allow Him to come into your heart and confess with your mouth that You believe that He died on the Cross for your sins. Start by saying this simple prayer, “Lord, I confess that I am sinner. I believe that You died on the Cross for my sins and was raised from the dead on the third day by God’s power. I ask that You would come into my heart right now. Make me who You want me to be. Amen.”
Whew! That’s just verse three! Let’s move on:
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.
Ecclesiastes 4:4-7 (KJV)
There is a lot to be extracted from these verses. Let’s start with verse five. Here, Solomon is once again pondering man’s work or travail, that occurs day in and day out. He says that “and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour.” People envy us because of what? Our righteous deeds or our righteous works. That sounds like a reverse concept, doesn’t it? Why would someone envy us because we do the right thing? Let’s go back to the story of Cain and Abel:
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
Genesis 4:3-9 (KJV)
Cain envied Abel because Abel gave a larger and fatter offering (which exhibited righteousness), while Cain brought a smaller and skinnier offering (which exhibited sinfulness) and because of this, Abel ended up murdering his own brother! The Bible says in Genesis Chapter 4 and verse 5, “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” Cain got mad because Abel was favored more by God! God had such a humorous reply in verse six, “And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door…” This is the concept of the tithe and offering. If we give to God what is owed him and then some, we will be accepted by God. If we rob God of what is owed him and we don’t give him an offering, we are sinning against Him. The concept is very basic. Now on the flip side of this, Abel, the person being persecuted, was killed in the midst of his righteous acts. Oftentimes, when we do the right thing we will be persecuted for our actions. Jesus himself said in Matthew 5, “10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” For sake of time, let’s move on.
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.
Ecclesiastes 4:8-16 (KJV)
These verses can all be taken literally. However, I want to make a specific point about verse 13, “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.” This saying can be applied to Jesus himself. Herod the Great was King of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth, yet the greatest King who ever lived was Jesus Christ, who came into the world as a poor, little child born by a carpenter and a servant-girl. Let’s move on to Chapter 5.
So far in our study of Ecclesiastes, we’ve seen a gradual shift from a poetic and exaggerated style to a literal and word-for-word style. Almost all of Ecclesiastes Chapter 5 can be taken literally and we will examine it like-so:
“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.”
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 (KJV)
These verse talk about how we should behave ourselves in the house of God (i.e. the Church). We should be ready to hear the word of God rather than just give our tithes and offerings, sing, and never open the Bible again until a week later. The Bible also instructs us not to be rash with our mouths or make hasty and quick promises to God. If we make a vow to God, we ought to fulfill it, or God Himself will hold us to it. This includes a commitment our tithes, offerings, and duties of Church membership. Solomon says specifically in verse six, “Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” We should not say things with our mouths that will cause us to sin. Again, God will hold us to our promises and we ought to fear Him because of that.
To be continued in tomorrow’s edition of the Daily Bible Insight.
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