Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 has been one of my favorite Bible passages for awhile. It’s the section about two being better than one, which is pretty well known.
Then one day I was reading it and I noticed the preceding paragraph. I don’t think I’ve ever heard these two paragraphs read together, but look at them:
Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
– Ecclesiastes 4:7-12
Suddenly it has a whole new dimension! This isn’t only a nice passage about friendship. It’s the author’s reflection on what happens to a person who has no one with whom to share the riches he has relentlessly toiled for. This person has done all this work to gain wealth, and sacrificed much of the pleasure he could have had, yet he has no one to help him appreciate it. What’s the point? So the writer goes on to list other ways companions make life more meaningful.
I love discovering passages I’ve read many times but never really noticed.