Two Are Better Than One.

Solomon's examination of the apparent anomalies and contradictions that confront our lives every day continues in Ecclesiastes 4. Walter Kaiser describes the progression of thought from chapter 3 to chapter 4 as follows:

  • Unrighteousness is in the halls of justice (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17).
  • Men and beasts can be alike (Ecclesiastes 3:18-21).
  • People can be oppressed (Eccl. 4:1-3), rivalrous (Eccl. 4:4-6), and isolated (Eccl. 4:7-12).
  • Popularity is temporary (Eccl. 4:13-16).

In other words:

  • We long for comfort, but oppression reigns.
  • We long for rest, but competition saturates.
  • We need companionship, yet isolation consumes.
  • We long for permanence, but everything in this life is of a limited duration.

Daniel Akin wrote, "Power always seems to be on the side of the oppressor. Historically, domestically, corporately, politically, educationally, ecclesiastically, socially, vocationally – stories continue to abound regarding abuse and oppression in every one of these environments." The plain truth is, power often does corrupt, and the oppressor who holds the power can corrupt others in their favor. Corruption can become multi-generational.

Power is often exercised on those more vulnerable and at their expense. Oppressors enjoy isolated obscurity, while their victims can be terrorized into solitary living. Given enough pressure, non-existence can be preferred at times (Job 3:3-10). Psalm 73:16-20 demonstrates a proper perspective that helps relieve the pressure of oppression. Though we pray for oppressors' souls to be changed, it's okay to consider their end.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 reveals the dichotomy that believers experience in oppression. Because of Christ, life is at work in the midst of affliction and death in our lives (1 John 4:4). This truth keeps us from losing heart and giving way to temptation (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Being depressed at affliction can lead one to walk away from the Lord, which leads to sin in thought and deed. But the same grace that miraculously saved us is capable to sustain us and grow us into Christ-likeness.

The Holy Spirit is our divine advocate and tutor (John 16:5-15). He applies God's Word to our lives. Romans 8:18-28 teaches several particulars about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in oppression:

  • Divinity indwells you. When we know the Lord Jesus as our Savior, the Spirit who descended in Acts 2 indwells us.
  • The Word of God sustains you. The Holy Spirit's responsibility is to ensure that His Word means something to you every day so you can live what it says.
  • God never intended you to live life alone. He's given us a spiritual family to enjoy.

Gibson commented, "People fill their thoughts and plans with themselves as they constantly work out how to navigate the world in a way that will give meaning and happiness. Says the preacher, that is the very source of our pain." American individualism is not ultimately helpful. In the constancy of oppression, we must arm our minds with the Word of God and bolster ourselves through Christian companionship.

Perseverance is much more than survival. Remember Solomon's encouragement to enjoy the life God has given you with others! Review Ecclesiastes 3:12 and 2:24.

Application Points

  • Pray for your pastors and fellow believers to attach ourselves to others who can help us walk through oppression. And do the same! We must help each other wrestle ourselves to joy.
  • Do you find yourself saying, "I'm just not good with people"? You may have learned this behavior, but don't use that as an excuse. Aloneness is not biblically embraced for long. Jesus Christ knew it wasn't good for even Him to be alone (Matthew 26:38, 41).
  • How can you arm yourself more consistently with the Word of God and Christian companionship to counter the saturating influence of oppression?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-24 – the salvation of our bodies at Christ's return.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:15 – the omniscient understanding of our eternal Lord of those who do wickedness and righteousness.

A Hymn to Encourage: "Faith Is the Victory"

Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise,
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled;
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Faith is the victory!
Faith is the victory!
Oh, glorious victory,
That overcomes the world.

His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God;
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field;
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.

On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.

To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n;
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in heav’n.
Then onward from the hills of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring name.