If we ourselves are at the center of our own universe and God is not in sight – that to me would be the picture of what it is like to live this chapter 4.
Chapter 3 felt like maybe hope was breaking in but here we are again. Isn’t that just what it is like in life when we live without God in view, we think maybe hope is just around the corner – and WHAM! Life hits us with something else.
Ecclesiastes 4:1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.
I remember what it was like to walk around in life without God and without hope, yet always hoping that good was coming. Often all I found was oppression. Life seemed to be a swirl of be the one who put down, who controlled, rather then the one on the receiving end. It felt like a weight was on my soul all the time. Life is certainly most miserable without God, for without Him, is to be without comfort.
Ecclesiastes 4:2 And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. 3 But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
Oh, you can just feel the agony in these verses. If there is no God, if there is no eternity, if there is nothing that matters then it may as well be better that we never lived at all.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
The scriptures tell those who follow after Christ to spur each other on to love and good works but we see here that under the sun, without Christ in the midst, envy is the fuel for others to work. If keeping up with the Jones is the only reason to work hard, so that, you can match their ability to gain stuff, one day we will wake up wondering what was the point of all that hard work. An empty system of life without eternity never fuels goodness. It fuels a rage for more that pushes us to the point of exhaustion for nothing.
Ecclesiastes 4:7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
The “preacher” shares with us how pointless work without those who share life with you can be. In Christ our work reaps reward in heaven and it is done for His glory. But here we see that under the sun, it is most pointless to work, and work, and work for no one. At the end of the day, if you have no one to share your life with, that their isn’t much point to working so hard.
He goes on to tell us about how at least if you have a friend – two are better than one and even rising into fame is short-lived. These are all just striving for wind he says. Human glory only leaves us standing there alone.