Ecclesiastes 4
NET Bible Par ▾ 

Evil Oppression on Earth

1So I again considered all the oppression that continually occurs on earth.

This is what I saw:

The oppressed were in tears, but no one was comforting them;

no one delivers them from the power of their oppressors.

2So I considered those who are dead and gone

more fortunate than those who are still alive.

3But better than both is the one who has not been born

and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth.

Labor Motivated by Envy

4Then I considered all the skillful work that is done:

Surely it is nothing more than competition between one person and another.

This also is profitless – like chasing the wind.

5The fool folds his hands and does no work,

so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh.

6Better is one handful with some rest

than two hands full of toil and chasing the wind.

Labor Motivated by Greed

7So I again considered another futile thing on earth:

8A man who is all alone with no companion,

he has no children nor siblings;

yet there is no end to all his toil,

and he is never satisfied with riches.

He laments, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?”

This also is futile and a burdensome task!

Labor is Beneficial When Its Rewards Are Shared

9Two people are better than one,

because they can reap more benefit from their labor.

10For if they fall, one will help his companion up,

but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.

11Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm,

but how can one person keep warm by himself?

12Although an assailant may overpower one person,

two can withstand him.

Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken.

Labor Motivated by Prestige-Seeking

13A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king

who no longer knows how to receive advice.

14For he came out of prison to become king,

even though he had been born poor in what would become his kingdom.

15I considered all the living who walk on earth,

as well as the successor who would arise in his place.

16There is no end to all the people nor to the past generations,

yet future generations will not rejoice in him.

This also is profitless and like chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 3
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