Ecclesiastes 4 – New International Version (NIV)
Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness
- Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed— and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors— and they have no comforter.
- And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive.
- But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.
- And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
- Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves.
- Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.
- Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
- There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business!
- Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
- If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
- Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
- Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Advancement Is Meaningless
- Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.
- The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom.
- I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor.
- There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 4 – King James Version (KJV)
- So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
- Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
- Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
- Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
- The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.
- Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.
- Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.
- There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
- Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
- For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
- Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
- And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
- Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.
- For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.
- I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.
- There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.