The Vanity of Community Under the Sun | Ecclesiastes 4


Ecclesiastes 4:6 | Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.   

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 | 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!


Ecclesiastes is a unique book both within the Bible and outside of it. Written by the Preacher (probably Solomon), it aims to analyze and evaluate everything under the sun to see if any lasting meaning, joy, and purpose can be found in this life. The Preacher’s answer is that everything under heaven is vanity, nothing more than passing vapor.

The bulk of Ecclesiastes is composed of Solomon’s report of his inquiry for meaning under the sun. So far, he has evaluated two broad topics: pleasure and time. Because pleasure makes us feel good, this was the logical place to begin, but the Preacher said that he only enjoyed pleasure for a moment. It offered nothing lasting.  The Preacher also concludes that time is vanity since it consumes the rich and poor alike. Even the greatest of kings and kingdoms succumb to the inevitability of their time running out.

The issue of community is Solomon’s primary focus within this chapter. Although he will highlight the benefits of being in community, much of this chapter is devoted to how we sabotage community with our selfishness. To give structure for interpreting this chapter, we should understand that verses 4-12 cite a personal, ground-level view of community, while 1-3 and 13-16 bookend the chapter with a broad view of how those in authority relate to those below them.


Read Ecclesiastes 4 and discuss the following.

  1. Which verses stood out most to you as you read Ecclesiastes 4 this week? Why? What do these verses teach you about who God is?
  2. Why are two better than one? How were we designed for community? What are some examples from your own life of the blessings of community?
  3. What are some ways presented in this chapter that we can ruin community? Which of these do you find most common in your heart and life?
  4. How can we redeem community through the gospel? What practical steps can we take toward making Philippians 2:3-11 true in our hearts?


Because all Scripture profits us through teaching, reproving, correcting, and training us, reflect upon the studied text, and ask yourself the following questions about the present text.

  • What has God taught you about Himself?
  • What sin is God convicting or reproving you of?
  • How is God correcting you?
  • How is God training and equipping you for righteousness?

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