Ecclesiastes 4:10 MEANING

Ecclesiastes 4:10
(10) Woe.--The word occurs only here and in Ecclesiastes 10:16, but is common in post-Biblical Hebrew.

Verse 10. - Koheleth illustrates the benefit of association by certain familiar examples. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. If one or the other fall, the companion will aid him. The idea is that two travelers are making their way over a rough road - an experience that every one must have had in Palestine. Vulgate, Si unus ceciderit. Of course, if both fell at the same time, one could not help the other. Commentators quote Homer, 'Iliad,' 10:220-226, thus rendered by Lord Derby -

"Nestor, that heart is mine;
I dare alone Enter the hostile camp, so close at hand;
Yet were one comrade giv'n me, I should go
With more of comfort, more of confidence.
Where two combine, one before other sees
The better course; and ev'n though one alone
The readiest way discover, yet would be
His judgment slower, his decision less."
Woe to him that is alone. The same interjection of sorrow, אִי, occurs in Ecclesiastes 10:16, but elsewhere only in late Hebrew. The verse may be applied to moral falls as well as to stumbling at natural obstacles. Brother helps brother to resist temptation, while many have failed when tried by isolation who would have manfully withstood if they had had the countenance and support of others.

"Clear before us through the darkness
Gleams and burns the guiding light;
Brother clasps the hand of brother,
Stepping fearless through the night."

4:9-12 Surely he has more satisfaction in life, who labours hard to maintain those he loves, than the miser has in his toil. In all things union tends to success and safety, but above all, the union of Christians. They assist each other by encouragement, or friendly reproof. They warm each other's hearts while they converse together of the love of Christ, or join in singing his praises. Then let us improve our opportunities of Christian fellowship. In these things all is not vanity, though there will be some alloy as long as we are under the sun. Where two are closely joined in holy love and fellowship, Christ will by his Spirit come to them; then there is a threefold cord.For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow,.... That is, if anyone of them fall, the other will lift him up, as they are travelling together, in whatsoever manner; if one falls from his horse, or out of his carriage, or into a ditch, the other will endeavour to raise him up again: this, as it is true in a natural, so in a figurative and metaphorical sense, with religious persons especially;

"if one of them falls upon the bed, and lies sick,''

as the Targum paraphrases it, his friend and brother in a religions community will visit him, and sympathize with him, and speak a word of comfort to him, and pray with him, which may issue in his restoration. So the Targum,

"the other will cause his friend to rise by his prayer;''

or if he fall into outward distress, poverty, and want, his spiritual friend or friends will distribute to his necessity; if he falls into errors, as a good man may, such as are of the same religious society with him will take some pains to convince him of the error of his way, and to convert him from it, and to save a soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins; and if he falls into sin, to which the best of men are liable, such as are spiritual will endeavour to restore him in a spirit of meekness;

but woe to him that is alone when he falleth! for he hath not another to help him up; no companion to raise him up when fallen; no Christian friend to visit and comfort him when sick, to relieve him under his necessities, when poor and afflicted, or to recover him from errors in judgment, or immoralities in practice; and especially if he has not Christ with him to raise him up, keep, and uphold him.

Courtesy of Open Bible