Day 10: The Desirability of Companionship (4:9)
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour” (4:9).
Following yesterday’s reflection on the pointlessness of labouring hard for wrong reasons, the Preacher considers a related scenario – when someone works hard and denies himself in the process, but there is no-one to share the fruits of his labours with: “I have noticed something else in life that is useless. Here is someone who lives alone. He has no son, no brother, yet he is always working, never satisfied with the wealth he has. For whom is he working so hard and denying himself any pleasure? This is useless, too – and a miserable way to live.” (4:7:8 GNT.) On the theme of aloneness and the desirability of companionship, we come to our text for today and with it the rationale as to why that is the case: “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help him. If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself. Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break.” (4:9-12 GNT.)
Today, we consider the importance of sharing our life with someone and the pitfalls when deciding to go it alone. It has always been God’s intention we make time and take effort to relate to and interact with other people, and first and foremost with our spouse, parents and children. Life tragically often reveals examples of when these relationships break down or don’t happen. One reason for this is when one’s priority is one’s work and other interests and at the cost of developing those relationships. This also applies to single people for the freedom from family responsibilities such people may have allow them the opportunities to cultivate relationships that may be denied to married people. Some, like this writer, see themselves as “loners”, and find relationship building something that is difficult. But it is clear, as far as the Preacher is concerned, building relationships reaps dividends and is worth the effort. In many situations, two is better than one for purely practical reasons. The Preacher ends by painting another picture – “Someone may rise from poverty to become king of his country, or go from prison to the throne, but if in his old age he is too foolish to take advice, he is not as well off as a young man who is poor but intelligent … There may be no limit to the number of people a king rules; when he is gone, no one will be grateful for what he has done. It is useless. It is like chasing the wind”. (4:13-14, 15.) How tragic – this old, foolish king has gone from rags to riches, but now is unwilling to take advice, and he isolates himself. His place is taken by someone like he once was. When the king is gone, there is no-one around to one to honour him.
Prayer: Forgive us Lord when our priorities are wrong and we fail to look out for other people, whether our spouse, children and parents or people we come across. May we see the folly of going it alone and the wisdom of sharing with other people.