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Ecclesiastes 4:1-16

Talks for Growing Christians

Benefits of Contentment and Sharing

Ecclesiastes 4:1-16

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Lesson Number 5

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. Contentment is better than striving.
  2. Sharing is better than loneliness.

Practical Application

  1. Expect the crowd to be fickle!

Questions

  1. From chapter 3 we learned that when God’s sovereignty is recognized and when we recognize that He has predetermined all events and timed them all appropriately, then the value of labor and the joy of life can be experienced. Here in first verses of chapter 4, Solomon turns again to the perspective “under the sun,” with no divine revelation, and describes the evil role of the _______________ and the impact they have on those under them. With so much oppression in the world, Solomon’s conclusion is that _______ would be better than ________ when there is no acknowledgement of God and His sovereignty.
  2. In Solomon’s world, he saw two work ethics taking place around him (vs 4-5). What were the two work ethics?
  3. When considering the two work ethics, how did Solomon describe a proper balance (v 6)?
  4. How would you describe the type of worker who Solomon saw in the workplace and spoke about in verses 7-12? How did the habits of this type of worker compare with the characteristics of workers who have godly values?

Answers

  1. Here in chapter four Solomon again presents the perspective “under the sun” and describes the evil role of oppressors and the terrible impact they have on those under them. For these workers, those who have died, those who are living and those who are yet to live, Solomon concludes that it would be better if they had not lived or would never live, that death would be better than life for them (vs 1-3).
  2. Solomon saw the work ethic of the workaholic (v 4), who are out to get as much as they can and to outdo their neighbors with resulting rivalry and jealousy. The other work ethic was that of the sluggards (v 5) who were simply so lazy that they would starve to death rather than work.
  3. Solomon describes the proper balance for the worker in verse 6, that is, the characteristic of moderation. The figurative language of one hand full of rest and one hand full of labor conveys balance and moderation resulting in contentment. See 1 Timothy 6:6 in this connection.
  4. Another group of workers that Solomon observed (vs 7-12) could be called misers. They work hard but keep everything for themselves. They hoard and do not share with others. They purposely cut off all ties including family and friends, becoming lonely and isolated. In contrast, a godly worker shares with others from his earnings, resulting in kind assistance (v 10), comfort (v 11) and strength and security (v 12). God did not design us to be wealthy hermits. See 1 Timothy 6:17-19 in this connection.

Discuss/Consider

  1. Discuss how you could influence or advise workers around you who are workaholics or sluggards. Consider how you would share the pitfalls of this type of labor/life, and how you would share the values and positive results that come from a life of moderation and contentment. Discuss why moderation and contentment must take place together in a person’s life.

Challenge

  1. Are you frustrated because you do not enjoy success and popularity? Or are you one who depends on your success and popularity? The lessons here in Ecclesiastes would teach us that success and popularity are not worth pursuing because it is a vain and futile pursuit. If attained, success and popularity are fleeting because people are fickle, always looking for someone more successful and popular to follow. Steadfastness and loyalty are rare. Godly characteristics are not found to be the norm. Don’t be discouraged if you are experiencing disappointment right now with people. Expect the crowd to be fickle.

Key Verses

  • “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

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