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Two Are Better Than One

8 Mins read

We will examine Ecclesiastes 4:9-14 in this post. The passage of the scripture in ECC 4:9-14 shows us the importance and impact of relationships, teamwork, and the interdependency of people, in certain spheres and situations, during the course of our lifetime under the sun. It highlights life’s compositions: work, relationships, and circumstances.

Relationships and social interaction are integral parts of our existence as humans. As a fact of life under the sun, there tend to be more oppositions during our existence than opportunities. As a result, we need extra heart, head & hand to help us deal with life’s conflicts, challenges, conditions, complexities, circumstances, and consequences. In any form of relationship, be it in a family, friendship, community, church, or partnership, two individuals can handle life’s problems and difficulties, compared to a single individual. 

Let’s examine the phrase “Two are better than one”. The word “two” in Hebrew is shanyim which means both, double, a dual number; in other words, having one extra or more than one. It means having more than one in a similar or different fashion. The word “better” in Hebrew is tobe, which means good, pleasant, agreeable, and beneficial. The word “one” in Hebrew is echad, which means united, first, alike, alone, and solo. Better is a comparative word most often used by the author to compare two sets of things. In essence, two are better in the sense that they are more preferable and more beneficial than one. One more individual, or more individuals than one individual, is preferable and beneficial than that one individual. 

The author states the reasons for and benefits of this statement, “Two are better than one”, and highlights the disadvantages of being solo in life. There are four reasons and benefits of why two are better than one in the following areas and situations of life under the sun: 

  • work (Ecc. 4:9)
  • falling (Ecc. 4:10)
  • warmth (Ecc. 4:11)  
  • opposition (Ecc. 4:12)

Work Under the Sun (Ecc. 4:9)

9. Because they have a good reward for their labor.

The first area is work in life under the sun. The advantage of why two are better than one in this area of life under the sun is that they have more rewards for their labour. 

The word “labour” in Hebrew is amal which means toil, wearing effort, of body or mind. One’s labour is the tasks, projects, services to render, and exertion of the body and mind in an engagement. 

Those who work receive wages. The power of working together in a professional setting is called teamwork, meaning working collaboratively to achieve and acquire a common goal and good. Teamwork is definitely and highly sought-after skill, and attitude, in the marketplace for one to possess. Teamwork involves both parties working distinctively, and collaboratively, with the same, or shared objective or common good for all. They get rewarded in their respective tasks, duties, or assignments. They can share the workload, and more can be done. Both parties working diligently to provide for each other leads to more satisfying results than working alone. Teamwork increases productivity levels as well as quality of work. Working together with others brings different and diverse capabilities, creativity, and critical eyes. 

The word “reward” in Hebrew is sakar, meaning payment of contract, fare, compensation, benefit, price, wages, or worth. Put another way, it means something(s) received for something(s) done. In this case, it pertains to compensation for their work. The reward could be in monetary or material value and non-monetary or non-material value. When two people work together, there is a strong chance for more quality and quantity in reward. Both are blessed together. Good reward, in the sense of the reward, is valuable, befitting, and beneficial to the one who works. It is good, in the sense of worth in your work, and worth in your wages. 

Falling Under the Sun (Ecc. 4:10)

10. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.

But woe to him who is alone when he falls,

For he has no one to help him up.

In addition to receiving a better reward for labour, people who work together can help each other in times of need and when experiencing problems. The second area is falling in life under the sun. Here, the advantage as to why two are better than one in this area of life under the sun is that one can lift the other one if he falls. The word “fall” in Hebrew is naphal, and it has a great variety of applications – cast (down, self) lie down, have, overthrow, perish, throw down, come down, bring low, fall, cast, fall away. When one falls in life, he goes down, is defeated, decreases, and declines in life. When life casts or brings you down, it’s hard to get up by yourself again, so very often, you need someone to help you get up and get on. The cause for your falling can be internal, meaning you, or external, meaning life circumstances beyond your control. Regardless, it does not matter in life who, or what, are the causes of your falling or failures in life; you are still going to need the extra hand, heart, and head to assist you to get through, get up and get on with life. Everyone is going to fall and fail in life, for sure, at one point in time, or an area in their lives, The question is not what happens to you, but who you have around in case unbearable things happen to you. The test of true friendship and relationship is when you are in your falling and failing times in life. Who can you trust in falling and failing times to support you? Who lifts you in life when you are down, defeated, decreasing, and declining in life? When all hope is lost. When all confidence is gone. When relationships are broken and dysfunctional. When passion is quenched. When potential unmaximized. When purpose is unfulfilled.

The advantage of why two are better than one when one falls is strength and support. The one person is okay, who would be the source of help, encouragement, motivation, and empowerment to aid the other one to get through, get up and get on. The flip side to this is when one falls and fails in life alone, and without anyone beside or for him – is woe. The word “woe” in Hebrew means crying out after – lament, the troubles, and problems that one has a warning of trouble for a person if they do something. When falling and failing times come, you are powerless on your own to handle them. If you don’t have a close friend, family, fellow church member, or marital companion in your life, you will struggle to get through, get up and get on with life. Only your close relationships will be there for you in your most challenging times. 

Proverbs 18:24 – New Living Translation –

 There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron,

So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Warmth Under the Sun (Ecc. 4:11)

11.Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;

But how can one be warm alone?

The word “again” gives us a sense of continuation, of another instance or time in one’s life, emphasizing why two are better than one – providing this particular different scenario to prove the author’s statement. The third area is warmth in life under the sun. The advantage of why two are better than one in this area of life under the sun is that both can keep each other warm. We need companionship and comfort in instances when life becomes cold.

The phrase “to lie down together” in Hebrew is shakab to lie down for rest, sexual comfort and connection, and intimacy. The author uses an example of people lying together to keep warm. He does not only intend any sexual meaning but more so a physical presence and emotional connection. It can, of course, be used in a sexual context of meaning, but it can also be applied to comfort in general be it emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual. Even though this image is taken from a husband and wife, it also applies to non-romantic relationships. Someone by your side in the cold seasons of your life will keep you warm. In a cold lonely winter, two friends can keep each other warm. In the winter, when it is a cold season, two people can warm one another by lying together. In the cold harsh realities of life, we need someone in life for warm sympathy and comfort. 

Proverbs 18:24 – New Living Translation
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Opposition Under the Sun (Ecc. 4:12)

12. Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.

And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

The author finally finished off as he continued to show the instances and benefits of companionship. The fourth area is opposition in life under the sun. These are the external challenges and conflicts one has with others. Most times, oppositions are caused by others, to resist or hinder what you are doing or want to do. Despite this fact, a single individual can be overpowered, meaning they can be defeated or overcome by someone with superior strength. Even though one person can be overpowered by someone far stronger than him. There is an advantage, however, of having more people standing up with you and fighting for you, and this gives us the last advantage of why two are better than one in this area of life under the sun. It is that together, they can prevail against the opposition. Even though one person might be overcome, two people can withstand an attack, and a group of three is even stronger to prevail. The stronger person is far more potent than the one person; however, two people can withstand a stronger person, rather than one weak person on their own. The word “withstand” in Hebrew is amad – to stand, to be on your feet; to be in a vertical position. This means to be strong enough not to be hurt or be damaged by extreme conditions, the use of force, to resist, to stand up to, to defend. It is to remain undamaged or unaffected by a strong resistance or opposition to something. In addition to this, an example of a threefold cord is given to signify power and strong resistance when you have more than one person in your life when faced with opposition. The word “threefold” in Hebrew is shalash to intensify, treble, triplicate, strands, multiplied, have tripled parts. The insight of this additional statement of “a threefold cord is not quickly broken” is that there are levels of layers to unwrap or untangle before you can completely break it apart. Two or more can withstand a strong resistance or opposition to someone or something, as opposed to just one person. Both parties know they are for each other, and not against each other. The author highlights the power and protection that come with being in numbers when facing opposition in life. There is power of being part of a larger group, rather than being alone for protection, victory and tremendous support. 

Deuteronomy 32:30 How could one chase a thousand,

And two put ten thousand to flight,

Unless their Rock had sold them,

And the LORD had surrendered them?

Summary

There is tremendous power in teamwork and companionship in life. In our social and relational life, which can be work, family, church, community, club and gathering, at a point in time, we might need extra hands to cooperate with us, hearts to comfort us and heads to counsel us. When two like-minded or agreeable individuals come together, they can achieve more together and acquire more together. As “Amos 3:3 can two walk together, unless they are agreed” states.

Don’t commit and collaborate with someone when you can’t rely on that person to strengthen you and support you in times of falling and failing. The author tries to promote these concepts, by showing the instances and benefits that come with working together and the value of companionship. People who work with others are more efficient, effective, and enriching than they can be alone. In summary, two are better than one; both parties are rewarded for their work, support each other in personal challenges, comfort each other, and can handle difficult situations in life with less hassle.  

By Wisdom Grace

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