Ecclesiastes 4

Evil Oppression on Earth

4:1 So1 I again considered2 all the oppression3 that continually occurs4 on earth.5

This is what I saw:6

The oppressed7 were in tears,8 but no one was comforting them;

no one delivers9 them from the power of their oppressors.10

4:2 So I considered11 those who are dead and gone12

more fortunate than those who are still alive.13

4:3 But better than both is the one who has not been born14

and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth.15

Labor Motivated by Envy

4:4 Then I considered16 all the skillful work17 that is done:

Surely it is nothing more than18 competition19 between one person and another.20

This also is profitless – like21 chasing the wind.

4:5 The fool folds his hands and does no work,22

so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh.23

4:6 Better is one handful with some rest

than two hands full of toil24 and chasing the wind.

Labor Motivated by Greed

4:7 So25 I again considered26 another27 futile thing on earth:28

4:8 A man who is all alone with no companion,29

he has no children nor siblings;30

yet there is no end to all his toil,

and he31 is never satisfied with riches.

He laments,32 “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself33 of pleasure?”34

This also is futile and a burdensome task!35

Labor is Beneficial When Its Rewards Are Shared

4:9 Two people are better than one,

because they can reap36 more benefit37 from their labor.

4:10 For if they fall, one will help his companion up,

but pity38 the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.

4:11 Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm,

but how can one person keep warm by himself?

4:12 Although an assailant may overpower39 one person,

two can withstand him.

Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken.

Labor Motivated by Prestige-Seeking

4:13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king

who no longer knows how to receive advice.

4:14 For he came out of prison40 to become king,

even though he had been born poor in what would become his41 kingdom.

4:15 I considered all the living who walk on earth,42

as well as the successor43 who would arise44 in his place.

4:16 There is no end to all the people45 nor to the past generations,46

yet future generations47 will not rejoice in him.

This also is profitless and like48 chasing the wind.

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