Jun 14, 2020
4Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. 5The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh. 6 Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. 7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. 13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 14 For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that youth who was to stand in the king's place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
In the long list of “evil deeds that are done under the sun” in Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon makes special mention of loneliness: “woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up” (vs. 10), and “how can one keep warm alone” (vs. 11). By contrast, many of the hymns we sing this morning speak to God’s provision in building up the community of believers. The hymn Glorious Things Of Thee Are Spoken describes the Christian as a member of Zion’s city, a city whose repose can never be shaken and who smiles at all her foes. Both The Church’s One Foundation and O Lord, How Joyful Tis To See celebrate Christian unity—though we are “from every nation,” we are “one o’er all the earth,” and it is truly joyful when “brethren join in love” for our Lord. Though in times of distress we may cry out, in the words of Jesus, Lover Of My Soul, “Leave ah! Leave me not alone,” we also look forward eschatologically to the day when “every heart and tongue” is filled with the blissful theme of salvation (To Our Redeemer’s Glorious Name) and “the whole creation joins in one” to bless the name of our God (My God, My Portion, And My Love). Have you experienced loneliness, or struggled with isolation, particularly these last months and weeks? Take courage—we serve a God who is building up His people, and He will not leave you alone. —Henry C. Haffner
Key Words: Toil, Better, Alone, Vanity, Swift,
Envy, Two, Sun
Keystone Verse: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)