Ecclesiastes, in effect, is the veiled memoir of Solomon. The first two chapters record what he experienced in life from a human, earthly perspective “under the sun.” He found everything in life to be meaningless unless a person sought to change their perspective to include a heavenly, eternal one. Ecclesiastes three, four and five offer insight into what Solomon observed. I covered his observations the life above man, the life within man and the life ahead of man in my previous post, God Orders Time. Solomon concludes his observations in chapters four and five, discussing the life that surrounds man.
Concerning Oppression (4:1) Oppression is very troubling to Solomon. He notices the tears of the oppressed and calls oppression a great evil
- Dead are better off than oppressed and unborn better still.
- God condemns abuse of power (Exodus 22:21, 23:9, Ps 62:10)
- Godly people must refrain from oppressing others and seek justice for them (Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23)
Concerning Toil and Achievement (4:4) These are called meaningless (in light of the certainty of death for every person under the sun).
- Envy and jealousy motivate the work of overachievers, it drives them to out do others. They seek to be admired or envied by others. Erwin Lutzer calls envy “rebellion against God’s plan.”
- Love is the opposite of envy, it rejoices in the success of others.
- Laziness – the opposite of the extreme of the drive to out do others. The motivation of laziness is pleasure.
- Both extremes (striving and laziness) amount to meaninglessness at death.
- The one who isolates him or her self from relationships is also scorned.
Concerning Relationships: two people are better than one (4:9)
- At work, two people striving together offer more strength, creativity, talents, energy, etc.
- When walking together, you will walk farther and avoid pitfalls
- Watching out for one another helps us cope with attacks. These attacks don’t have to be physical, they can also be spiritual, emotional or financial.
A quote from Dr. David Jeremiah, “A friend is a treasure; two friends a treasure house.” Guard your friendships like you would a vast treasure. Friendship are eternal whereas possessions are temporal.
There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 NLT
Concerning Relationships, Popularity and Power (4:13)
- Life is about people needing people. Choose relationships over fame or power.
- Solomon offers the example of a poor wise youth rising to the office of king, was he thinking of his father King David? If so, was the foolish king who wouldn’t heed a warning King Saul? That would make the youth, the king’s successor, Solomon himself.
And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process. Mark 8:36 NLT
Concerning Worship (5:1)
William Barrick offers this comment on the first seven verses of Ecclesiastes chapter five. “Each person must anticipate his or her encounter with the eternal God beyond the sun.”
Solomon looks at our encounter with God, in worship, making vows and fearing (revering) Him.
- How does your private worship apart from church compare to your public worship in God’s house?
- Are we listening? To “listen” to God’s word carries the implication that we will obey it.
- Is your offering to God “a sacrifice of fools?” That is does you outward display (your offering) run contrary to your inward convictions? The word “fool” in this case means one who is dull and obstinate (it’s a chosen outlook not a mental illness or malady).
- Biblical prayer does not seek to manipulate God. You have probably heard the expression, “prayer changes things.” If you subscribe to that belief, you must consider also that prayer changes “us.”
- With regard to vows, God takes his commitments to us very seriously, we need to do the same with Him.
- Does God use “storms” in our lives to awaken us? People make vows during times of upheaval and uncertainty, but few keep them.
- An unkept vow is equivalent to mocking God.
- Fearing God does not equate to being afraid of him. God desires that we approach Him and walk with him. Fearing God equates to being in awe of His mighty power, revering Him has supremely holy, and being wiling to respond to that awesomeness and holiness by setting oneself apart from wrongdoing and evil, to be wholly devoted to Him.
…for it is not where we worship that counts, but how we worship—is our worship spiritual and real? Do we have the Holy Spirit’s help? For God is Spirit, and we must have his help to worship as we should… John 4:21-24 NLT
Concerning Justice (5:8)
Solomon says politicians or kings oppressing the poor shouldn’t surprise us. Russian author, Alekandr Solzhenitsyn said, “the line dividing good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through the human heart.
- Exploitation filters down from official to official and there seems to be no end to it. It comes from the inherent evil that resides within us.
- New Testament teaching – rulers are supposed to be extensions of the hand of God on earth (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17)
- Dr. David Jeremiah offers this advice on God’s grace and governing – trust God. He is sovereign. Pray for officials. Be an excellent citizen. Take a stand for God when government defies him. Don’t expect utopia from any earthly system of government ruled by man.
Concerning Wealth (5:10-20)
Do you find it true that whenever life goes awry the first thing we look for is a financial remedy?
Dr. David Jeremiah’s “5 things we should know about Money”
- The more you have, the more you want (v10)
- The more you have, the more you spend (v11)
- The more you have, the more you worry (v12)
- The more you have, the more you lose (v13, 14)
- The more you have, the more you will leave behind (v14-17)
Dr. Jeremiah’s “2 Things we need to know about God” (v18-20)
- Our ability to earn money is a gift from God. There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. What God gives, he can take away (Job 1:21). If we see the money we have as God given, we are more likely to experience contentment and be grateful.
- Our ability to enjoy money is a gift from God. Money and possessions aren’t evil if we don’t allow them to enslave us. Yes, we can even find enjoyment in giving some of it away.
When you die you cant take wealth with you. There is no own where God is concerned, only a loan because possessions (including money) don’t transcend eternity.