THE IMPACT OF EVIL
1Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. 2So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
4I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. 5The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.
7Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.
9Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
13A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.
- Ruthless Oppression 4:1-3
- Rat Race Rivalry 4:4-6
- Relentless Greed 4:7-8
- Risky Isolation 4:9-12
- Recurring Instability 4:13-16
- In what ways have you seen or experienced evil’s oppression in your life or those closest to you? What happens inside you when you see others suffer who are innocent? Where do you see hope in a world so filled with evil?
- How does “keeping up with the Joneses” show up in your heart? How does coveting most prominently show up in your life? In what ways are you prone to covet others’ success rather than celebrate and be thankful for them?
- What do you think you need in your life to finally make yourself happy? What does that teach you about where you’re finding joy and happiness?
- When are you most prone to run to isolation? How has isolation taught you that you are not enough for yourself? How has Community been part of forming and shaping your walk with Christ? How can you grow in your pursuit of Community?
- What kind of listener would others describe you as? In what areas of your life can you grow in your listening? Describe the last time God used a younger person to teach you deep truths about who He is. How did you react or respond?