Chapter 4

4.1-3 injustice. Solomon leaves the heart of man and looks at the world at large. He concludes some injustices are worse than death. He muses the unborn are better than those oppressed. The word for oppression, ashuq, and has to do with tyranny. Who can observe tyranny more astutely than a King himself? Ironically more lamented than the oppression, was the absence of anyone to show comfort to the oppressed. This is amazing insight for a man so insulated by worldly comforts and servants. This is a flashback to the moment he understood the Shunnamite girl who loved her shepherd, and the moment he knew who the true mother was between the two harlots. It shows great human insight into empathy.

4.4-6 work. He views the man who works an excessive amount in comparison to the man who works just enough to get by. In the end, both are hebel. It is the contentment of life that gauges the value of work and accomplishment.

4.7-8 the miser. Solomon addresses the one who works alone and never stops to enjoy his labor. The miser is never satisfied with his labor, he always wants more. This causes the miser to bereave his own soul of good. This statement is an early form of the law of diminishing returns. The longer and harder the miser works, the less satisfaction he finds. It violates God’s law to enjoy the fruit of your labor.

4.9-12 the value of two. The echo from Eden sounds, it is not good for man to be alone, Gen 2.18. The enjoyment of labor is doubled by the addition of another. The advantage of help by lifting your fallen companion is stated. The companionship of a mate that brings warmth, and the defense of your companion all defend Eden’s echo. As Solomon’s eye looks to the world, he endorses the echo of Eden.

4.13 Solomon’s epitaph. This is the wisest man in the world enscribing his own epitaph. Infinitely better is a wise and poor child (as he was at Gibeon), than an old and foolish King (as he now was). The simple, pure days of his early kingdom now stand in contrast to a complicated court with one thousand women, and temples to many false Gods. This is truly hebel, vanity of vanities. No verse penned in any of his three books concisely states his life as poignantly.

4.14-16 litany of hebel. Solomon poses that Kings come from prisons, and the privileged fall into poverty. As his eye scans all the castes of life, he remembers he is King by his father’s choice. His brothers were in line for the throne, but his mother petitioned his father while his father was on his deathbed, and he, the son who was second, now resides on the throne. It underlines again the hebel of life. Solomon mirrors Aesop who said “our insignificance is often the cause of our safety”.

Thanks for reading today….