Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Bother?

Ecclesiastes 4:1-16

“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.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1)

Having tried to find peace and happiness through education, through public service, through pleasure and self-indulgence, and through accumulating wealth, and finding them unsatisfactory, Solomon decided to see what would happen if one exercised control over other people.

Throughout history political and religious figures have insisted that people are not capable of making good choices for themselves and want or need others to make those choices for them.  It is the basic premise of every dictator or totalitarian regime.  Solomon discovered that such regimes ignore the concerns and plight of their people, focusing on their own agenda, leaving their people crying for relief, with no hope of receiving it because the oppressors don’t have to live with the consequences of their decisions. 

Those who exercised such power were frustrated that the people resented being forced to do what they were told and didn’t appreciate what the ruler was trying to accomplish.  Neither the subjects nor the one in power were satisfied with the result.  As history proves, people begin to rebel and the ruler uses force to make them comply.  Eventually things spiral out of control.  Nobody is happy when people are being controlled.

“Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.  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 4:2-3)

At this point, Solomon concluded that those who had died were better off than those who were still alive because they were no longer seeking to be happy.  Those who had never been born were even better off, because they had never had to struggle to find happiness.    Trying to find happiness is a futile and frustrating pursuit that often ends in depression or suicide.

“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.

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

Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit. ” (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6)

When he stopped and looked those who were successful and did what was right, many times, instead of learning from or following their examples, people were jealous of their success.   Foolish people expected the same success without having to do the work, and either stole or destroyed what they had or maligned those who succeeded.  Many times it is easier or better to settle for a little less than to have to deal with the jealousy and hatred of others.   

“Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.  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.” (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8)

One of the biggest wastes of time Solomon found was for a person who had no friends or relatives to spend his entire life trying to get more money or things, and never taking time to enjoy them.  He misses most of the pleasures of life to get those things yet doesn’t even have anybody to give them to when he dies.   He never even stops to think what he is missing in his pursuit of belongings.  It is a total waste and yet it consumes some people.  Misers are not happy people.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  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.  Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Companionship is a wonderful thing that those who refuse to get involved with people miss.  While a person may be strong enough o act on his own, nearly everything is easier with a little help and encouragement, and if something goes wrong, a second person may be able to provide physical help or suggest another idea.  In any case they can provide encouragement and may make the difference between success and failure.  A third friend increases one’s chances of success even more.

“Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.  For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.” (Ecclesiastes 4:13-14)

A little boy from a poor home who knows he learns to listen to others and think about what they tell him is better than a rich and powerful man who thinks he knows everything and refuses to listen to anyone.  Such a man will eventually destroy everything he gets control of.
I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.  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 4:15-16)

Every person has only a limited amount of time, sooner or later somebody else will take his place, just as he took somebody’s place that lived before him.   While the person who takes one’s place may know who he was or what he did, in many cases, the second one will have no clue how they have benefitted from his work.  It is frustrating that our accomplishments and efforts can be so quickly forgotten.   It makes his life seem wasted.

Solomon has tried most things other people try in their quest for happiness and meaning.  All of them result in frustration and depression.  Giving up just makes the depression and frustration worse.  Something different will be required if a person is to be truly happy and satisfied with their life.   


  1. Praise God that He alone can give our life meaning, and that all is vanity without Him. May we continually yield to His perfect plan for our life, which is the best blessing we could possibly have!
    Thanks for the great post & God bless!

  2. Thanks. Laurie.

    I wish more people understood how rich his blessings are adn how full a life for him is.