In our study of Ecclesiastes chapter four, we continue our search for the purpose of life by looking at the philosophy of living for self.
"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." NIV translation
In chapter 3, Solomon showed us the futility of chasing earthly things and missing out on the spiritual things of God. Now, he looks at what happens when nations and their governments chase the physical. Here, we see that these nations and their leaders oppress the poor in their quest for money and power. We also see that, when the people look to the government for help, there is none. This reminds us that our comfort comes from God and not man or an earthly government. It is the job of the church to bring comfort to the people and to especially look out for the poor. Sadly, a big part of the church has attempted to turn that responsibility over to the government.
"And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun." NIV translation
Solomon's conclusion about this state of oppression is that it is good to die and escape but it is better to have not been born. Does this not describe the feeling in our world today as there seems to be a bigger gap than ever between the rich and powerful and the poor? As bad as it appears to be now, it is going to get much worse.
To prepare, the church must return to its roots of service just as the early church did in following Jesus. The second thing, is that God's people must tell people the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Solomon found, focusing on the temporary physical without the lasting spiritual is pointless.
"And I saw that all labor and achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind." NIV translation
Now, Solomon turns from looking at nations that are living for themselves to individual men. He reminds us of the fact that chasing after the riches of this world is a race that we cannot win because there is always a neighbor that has more than we do. Without a restored relationship with God, our hearts can never be satisfied with the things of this earth.