1884.) Ecclesiastes 4

“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” — Lily Tomlin

Ecclesiastes 4 (New Living Translation)

 1 Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless. 2 So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living. 3 But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun.

4 Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.

5 “Fools fold their idle hands,
leading them to ruin.”

Proverbs 6:6-11 (Good News Translation)

Lazy people should learn a lesson from the way ants live. They have no leader, chief, or ruler, but they store up their food during the summer, getting ready for winter. How long is the lazy man going to lie around? When is he ever going to get up?
         I’ll just take a short nap, he says;
         I’ll fold my hands and rest a while.
But while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber.

6 And yet,

“Better to have one handful with quietness
than two handfuls with hard work
and chasing the wind.”

The Advantages of Companionship

7 I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun. 8This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing. 9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

When my father married his second wife, Thelma, he was 86 and she was 81. The pastor preached a wedding sermon on numbers:  In a marriage, he said, 1 + 1 = 1, because “the two shall become one.” Then, 1 + 1 = 2, because you have two different personalities in any marriage. Then, 1 + 1 = 3, because with God, a marriage can be a picture of Christ and the Church, a truly whole and loving relationship. All of which is to say:  Christ is the third cord.

Another picture:  my husband and his business partner recently went to an important business meeting. A dear friend prayed for him to remember that “Christ is the host at that meeting table.” Again, Christ is the third cord.

How wonderfully encouraging this idea can be! Where in your life can you thank Christ for being your third cord? Where in your life can you invite him to be your third cord?

The Futility of Political Power

 13 It is better to be a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who refuses all advice. 14 Such a youth could rise from poverty and succeed. He might even become king, though he has been in prison. 15 But then everyone rushes to the side of yet another youth who replaces him. 16 Endless crowds stand around him, but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.
_________________________

Music:

We all know that country music songs can tell wonderful stories, and  HERE  is one that lines up, kinda sorta, with Ecclesiastes. “Awful, Beautiful Life”  by Darryl Worley.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
rat race.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/rat-race1.jpg
ants at work.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/ants2.jpg
Ecclesiastes 4:12.   http://hebrewbible.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/ecclesiastes-4_12.gif
number 3.     http://www.astrogle.com/images/articles/numerology/number-3.gif
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