Summary: "Two are Better than One" is an exposition of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. It teaches four reasons why two are better than one: (1) Two are better than one when you are work; (2) Two are better than one when you have fallen down; (3) TWo are better than one when
TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE
The Book of ECCLESIASTES is the sad sequel to the book of PROVERBS. The book of Proverbs primarily consists of wise sayings Solomon teaches his children that they may live godly and peaceful lives. But in Ecclesiastes, Solomon laments the fact that he has played the fool and failed to take his own advice. Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 reads, “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Ecclesiastes is a sermon that warns us not to waste our lives on worthless things. And it exhorts us to live godly values, eternal significance, and spiritual priorities. Our text is a part of Solomon’s instructions for living a meaningful life. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Solomon teaches that in order to live a life that counts you must learn to value relationships over possessions. You must value people more than things. You must find joy in fellowship not pleasure. And Solomon makes this point in a simple, clear, and direct statement: “Two are better than one.”
Contextually, this passage stands in stark contrast to its surround passages. Verses 7-8 warn that selfish isolation from others is vanity. And in verses 13-16 warn that superficial fame is vanity. Between these extremes, our text teaches a practical principle for a meaningful life: two are better than one. Unfortunately, there are times when one is hurt, betrayed, or forsaken by another. But Solomon does not address or even acknowledge these obvious contradictions to his stated principle. He simply declares the point and allows it to stand on its own: two are better than one. Indeed, this is a countercultural principle in a society that celebrates the power of one. And many people virtually worship privacy. But scripture does not join us in the exaltation of the individual. Proverbs 18:1 says: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” In other words, isolation from others is both selfish and foolish, and ungodly. In creation, the first thing God said was not “good” was the fact that the man was alone. God created us for community. And true faith is always lived out in community with other believers. Scripture does not teach the power of one. It teaches that two are better than one. And in Ecclesiastes 4:9b-12a, Solomon gives four reasons why two are better than one.
I. TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE WHEN YOU ARE AT WORK.
Ecclesiastes 10:10 reads, “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.” The point of this verse is that it is better to work smarter than harder. And our text gives a simple way to work smarter: don’t work alone. Verse 9 says: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” The word toil or labor speaks of hard work and diligent labor. This is not the picture of a person sitting in a cubicle, goofing off, wasting time, doing nothing. It is not a person who is working hard to not do any actual work until they get off. Rather, the term describes an agricultural worker in the field. He works hard, knowing that if he does not toil in the field, there will be no harvest. He doesn’t need to be prodded to work. He knows that if he doesn’t labor in the field, his family will starve. This reminds us that cultivating a meaningful life is hard work.
• Doing right is hard work.
• Getting an education is hard work.
• Building a successful career is hard work.
• Nurturing a godly marriage is hard work.
• Raising responsible children is hard work.
• Doing the work of ministry is hard work.
• Sharing your faith with others is hard work.
The assumption of the text is that a meaningful life is hard work. But the affirmation of the text is that you can accomplish more when you work together with others. It is said that the late novelists, ALEX HALEY, had a piece of art in his office with a turtle sitting on a fence. And when someone would ask him about it, he would explain that if you ever see a turtle sitting on a fence, you know it had some help getting up there. And when he would began to think about how marvelous he was, he would look at this picture and remind himself how he got to where he was. And when you see someone who has accomplished something significant in life, know that they did not get there by themselves. They had some help. And Solomon declares that two are better than one when you go to work.