Ecclesiastes 4

Pain, work and friends

4:1In chapters 4-10, the Teacher says many wise things. Some things cause us to think that our lives here on the earth have no reason. Sometimes the Teacher talks about these things. At other times, he says that we should enjoy good things. We should enjoy the good things that God gives to us.

1 In every place on the earth, I saw cruel people.

Some people were crying because the cruel people were hurting them.

There was nobody to help them.

They were too weak to help themselves.

2 ‘It is better to be dead. That is better than to be alive,’ I said to myself.

3 ‘The most happy people are those who have not been born.

They do not see the bad things that happen on the earth.’

4 We do not like other people to have more than we have. That is why we work for many hours each day. That is why we try to do very many things. This, too, is like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

5 Fools refuse to work.

They die because they have no food.

6 It is better to be happy with a little food.

Some people work for more food than they need. But that is not right.

It is like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

7 Again, on the earth I saw something else that has no purpose.

8 Some people live alone.

They cannot give things to friends or to children because they have no friends or children.

They are not happy with the things that they have.

But they continue to work so that they can get more.

They should ask themselves, ‘Whom are we working for?’

They should ask themselves why they do not enjoy their life more.

After their death, all that they have will not be theirs any longer. All those things will be another person's things.

Their lives will have meant nothing. This is like sad work.

9 It is good to have a friend.

You can enjoy the work that you and your friend do together.

10 If you fall, a friend can help you.

You may fall when you are alone.

If you do that, you really are in trouble.

11 If two people sleep together, they keep each other warm.

If you sleep alone, you will be cold in the night.

12 A strong person might hurt you.

But if you have a friend, your friend can help you. And you can fight so that the strong person will not hurt you.

Somebody has said, ‘A rope can have three parts rather than one part. If it has three parts, it is difficult to break it.’

13 You may be poor and you may be young. But anyway it is a good thing to be wise. A king will not always listen when people speak to him. If you are wise, you are better. You are better than that kind of king. He is a fool. 14 You may have been in a prison and you may be very poor. Your father may not be a king, but you could become a king. 15 I once knew a young person. That young person became a powerful king after another king had died. 16 Many people thought that he was a good king. Nobody could even count the people who thought that. But in future years, nobody will remember him. This, too, is like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

4:16The Teacher tells us that people are not fair to each other. Instead, they are cruel. Some people work too much. Other people are too lazy. Some people have no friends. Other people become famous and they have many friends. But it does not seem to matter who we are. It does not seem to matter what we do. The things that happen in our lives seem to have no reason.