Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed— and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors— and they have no comforter. And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 4:1-3
There have not been as many water-related passages in Ecclesiastes as I would have thought. There are only a few more and this one is somewhat tangential. There are some interesting “Reflections of Him” in here so let’s get our paddles in the water and see where we end up.
This passage is all about oppression. The author sees “the tears of the oppressed”. He sees their emotional hurt and pain through these samples of their souls. When I think of oppression I think of someone in a position of power imposing their will on someone “below them” on the social or economic ladder. The “haves” ruling the “have nots”. This has given rise to some amazing uprisings of anger and angst throughout history. Everything from the French revolution to the occupy wall street demonstrations.
The missing solution to help the oppressed in this passage is a “comforter” rather than an angry crowd with a guillotine. The author laments at the lack of a “comforter” to the point that they feel like it would be better to have never been born than to endure the injustice of oppression…”better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun”.
I disagree with the author’s pessimism and conclusion; although I have the advantage of knowing the “Comforter” who is missing from this passage. Jesus was, and is, the ultimate comforter and champion of the oppressed. He came to free the “captives” from oppressors of all kinds, both human and spiritual. So from the perspective of a Follower of the Way of Jesus it is far better to be born again than to have never been born at all.
Prayer: God thank You for being our comforter and coming to the aid of all who are oppressed by both spiritual and human oppressors.