Bible: Ecclesiastes 4:4-16

Labor Motivated by Envy

4:4 Then I considered 1  all the skillful work 2  that is done:

Surely it is nothing more than 3  competition 4  between one person and another. 5 

This also is profitless – like 6  chasing the wind.

4:5 The fool folds his hands and does no work, 7 

so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh. 8 

4:6 Better is one handful with some rest

than two hands full of toil 9  and chasing the wind.

Labor Motivated by Greed

4:7 So 10  I again considered 11  another 12  futile thing on earth: 13 

4:8 A man who is all alone with no companion, 14 

he has no children nor siblings; 15 

yet there is no end to all his toil,

and he 16  is never satisfied with riches.

He laments, 17  “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself 18  of pleasure?” 19 

This also is futile and a burdensome task! 20 

Labor is Beneficial When Its Rewards Are Shared

4:9 Two people are better than one,

because they can reap 21  more benefit 22  from their labor.

4:10 For if they fall, one will help his companion up,

but pity 23  the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.

4:11 Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm,

but how can one person keep warm by himself?

4:12 Although an assailant may overpower 24  one person,

two can withstand him.

Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken.

Labor Motivated by Prestige-Seeking

4:13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king

who no longer knows how to receive advice.

4:14 For he came out of prison 25  to become king,

even though he had been born poor in what would become his 26  kingdom.

4:15 I considered all the living who walk on earth, 27 

as well as the successor 28  who would arise 29  in his place.

4:16 There is no end to all the people 30  nor to the past generations, 31 

yet future generations 32  will not rejoice in him.

This also is profitless and like 33  chasing the wind.

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