Ecclesiastes 4

Other things that have no purpose

4:1In chapters 4-10, the Teacher thinks about different things that happen on the earth. He is trying to understand why they seem to have no purpose. He says that we should enjoy the good things that God gives to us.

1 I saw again all the ways that people are cruel on the earth.

I saw some people who were crying because cruel people were hurting them.

There was nobody who could help them.

Nobody could rescue them from those cruel people.

2 I thought about people who are already dead.

I decided that they are happier than the people who are still alive.

3 But people who have not yet been born are even happier!

They have not seen the evil things that happen on the earth.

4 I also thought about the clever work that people do. I saw that people work hard because they are jealous of each other. They want to do better than other people. I realized that this has no purpose. It is like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

5 Foolish people refuse to work.

They sit and they do nothing.

So they become hungry and they die.

6 It is good to have only a little food and be happy.

That is better than too much hard work that gives you a lot of food.

It is as useless as somebody who tries to catch the wind.

7 I thought about something else on the earth that has no purpose.

8 There are people who live alone.

They have no friends, children or brothers.

They work hard every day.

They want to get more riches for themselves.

But they are never happy with the things that they have.

They should ask themselves, ‘Why am I working so hard?

Am I helping anybody?

I am not doing things that make me happy.’

Their work has no purpose. It only brings trouble to their lives.

9 Two people who work together

are better than one person who works alone.

They can help each other to work well.

10 If one of them falls down,

his friend can help him to get up.

But it is terrible if you fall down when you are alone.

There is nobody who can help you to stand up again.

11 Also, if two people sleep together,

they help each other to be warm.

But if you sleep alone,

it is difficult to be warm.

12 If you are alone, one person might attack you and hurt you.

But two people together can help each other to win the fight.

If you use three strings to make a rope,

it is difficult for anyone to break it.

13 A young man may be very poor. But if he is wise, he is better than a king who is foolish. When the king is old, he may not listen to his friends' advice. 14 A young man who is wise may even become king himself one day. He may have been in prison. He may have been born in a poor family in that kingdom. But he may later rule there as king.

15 I thought about all the people who live on the earth. I realized that one of them would also become king one day. He would rule instead of the other young man who became king. 16 Large crowds of people give him honour as their king. But in future years, nobody will praise him. I realized that this has no purpose. It is like somebody who tries to catch the wind.