There are two extremes mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, as well as an ideal balance mid-spectrum. These extremes are working so hard it becomes your only goal in life vs. not working at anything and starving to death. Instead the best place to be is working in enjoyment of our work. Do I take joy in my day-to-day tasks, and joy in my job, or am I working simply to have some accomplishment or another to show for it, only to have to move on to the next thing when that is finished? I think a lot of the time I work to live, I have a mortgage to worry about and bills to pay, but I can’t let that be my only focus, because it pulls my eyes away from God and sets them solely on the world. Instead I need to consider Him in all things and seek to work to glorify Him.
Having fellowship and relationship is what God created us in the garden for. Solomon shows us here how the accountability and help we provide and receive from others is so good for us. When that relationship with another is strengthened by God, it becomes much stronger still (v. 12).
“And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken”
I am blessed to be married to a Christian, and have been very aware of how blessed I have been with this perfect match provided by the Lord from the start of our relationship. We often pray to continue growing closer together, and also to grow closer to God, that He would be our strength. I truly believe with the Lord in our life we will be able to get through whatever life may throw at us, as long as we continue to trust in Him.
At the end of the chapter we are taught that we are better off as we were in our youth, where there was opportunity for change and growth. The child, being wise, has so many chances ahead of him to make good decisions on that wisdom. The king, though rich is spoken of as a fool, who is unwilling to change and listen to advice of others. Though he wouldn’t have always been as rich and powerful as he is as king, he seems to have forgotten where he came from, and will ultimately be replaced and forgotten.
1 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. 4 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. 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.