Ecclesiastes 4


Solomon became a modern-day playboy. This has to be one of the most disappointing, and defeating things that he attempted to find pleasure in. A reading of 1 Kings 11:1-8 tells of this low point in his life. His foolish actions sound almost unbelievable considering how wise he was in his early life.

Solomon had a complicated personality. He is difficult to understand. It would seem in his latter days his wives occupied much of his time. There were 700 wives and 300 concubines. As he grew older, he obviously spent more and more of his time with his harem. There he could tease, flirt and seduce his women.

Can you imagine trying to please and entertain 1,000 women? What about his first wife, the one he was willing to build a beautiful palace for?

The daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh would naturally resent all this attention Solomon gave to his women. Even among the thousand women that he had there had to be a tremendous resentment and jealousy between them. Solomon’s conduct is nothing more than that of a foolish doting old man whose actions are ridiculous.

Notice that his heart is turned away from God to honour pagan gods just as God had predicted. Solomon had to know how God felt about marrying pagan women and how God detested their pagan gods. God told Solomon ‘Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates,’ 1 Kings 11:11.

As the end of Solomon’s life approached it must have been very disappointing to him as it all ended in vanity. I am concerned about how fast Britain is drifting away from the moral principles it has lived by since for centuries. Those of old would be horrified to see such immoral practices. Homosexuality was something you rarely heard about but is now being looked upon as acceptable, even flaunted. Those who oppose are persecuted for taking a stand against it.

Young people getting drunk not wearing seat belts are dying in car wrecks every week. Almost every day we read of people being shot and killed. Gang war is found in both small and large cities. Theft is on a rampage.

Like Solomon, much of Britain seems to have ‘forgotten God’ and His moral law. We now find ourselves surrounded by a new and evil culture which is spinning out of control. This isn’t the nation or culture we had 60 years ago. How long will the Lord allow this age to spin out of control? The Gospel is our only hope!

No Satisfaction In Fleshly Indulgence

‘Again, I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter. And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.’ Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

Solomon appears to be continuing with his thoughts from Ecclesiastes 3:16, in reference to judgment and wickedness. Some people are all too familiar with the word ‘oppression’ these days, where a ruling government takes over their country and they lose their freedom.

Solomon says those who are already dead don’t have to live under such oppression, in other words, it would be better not to have been born in the first place than to live under such an evil dictatorship.

‘And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.’ Ecclesiastes 4:4-6

The world we live in today was much the same as Solomon’s world, where we have people who are envious of other people’s talents and abilities. We see this, especially in many talent shows where people are envious of each other. People never learn to be satisfied which their lot and as result, they never have peace of mind; they never think they are good enough because they measure themselves against others around them.

Solomon says everyone has to work because if they don’t, they will end up in poverty and end up relying on their friend and family to get by. In other words, people are better off being content with what they have than having lots of wealth which lead them to be in competition with those around them.

‘Again, I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless—a miserable business!’ Ecclesiastes 4:7-8

Loneliness can be a terrible feeling, but there are times people bring it about by their own selfish actions, one of those times when they are working for themselves without a care for others. Working with others creates friendships and companionship and therefore brings about satisfaction, Acts 20:34.

‘Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The opposite of working on our own is working together with others, this gives us more power as a team, but we must be willing to make the effort to seek those we want to work with. Working with others not only helps us, but it helps those we are working with. Some of the most selfish people in the world are those who are the loneliest people in the world.

Advancement Is Meaningless

‘Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning. The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor. There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.’ Ecclesiastes 4:13-16

Solomon here, maybe referring to Jeroboam, who if you remember, fled into Egyptian exile, but later became the king of the northern kingdom of Israel, 1 Kings 11:26-43 / 1 Kings 12:1-33. Jeroboam wasn’t born of royal blood but was given the position of king over the ten northern tribes of Israel.

Not many people think of the youth in our society as being wise, but Solomon here says that many may admire and envy the power and position a king has, but in reality, it’s better to be as wise as the youth, simply because the youth are more likely to listen to and take advice from others.

Go To Ecclesiastes 5


"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."