By Lester Bentley

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they (either person) 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.  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Solomon’s experience with independent life caused him to consider the importance of friendship and the value of people doing things together. As he penned these words from Ecclesiastes, he may have recalled an old Jewish proverb, “A friendless man is like a left hand deprived of the right.” In other words, a person without friends is like a man whose left hand is orphaned from his right hand. Therefore, Solomon concluded that two people working together are better than one working alone.

Why would two people be better than one?

Because when two are working together, they can get more done. While working, they will enjoy the company of the other. Even when they divide the profits from their work, they will have more than if working alone. It is also much easier to accomplish tasks of great size if two people are working together, rather than alone. As they work together, they can encourage each other, especially when things don’t go as planned.

In Palestine, walking paths leading from city to city were often steep, filled with rocks and stones that could give way when stepped on. It was easy to trip, fall and get hurt. Even the most experienced of travelers could stumble and fall. It often resulted in broken bones or turned ankles.  How wonderful it was to have a friend that could help during a slip or a fall.

In the garden, Eve left the side of Adam. Why? We are not told. But she did and subsequently fell to the temptation of not trusting in God. She thought there was something better. Yet God had provided everything she would ever need. If the first woman had stuck to the side of the first man, there would have been a strength to withstand temptation. The first woman would not have stumbled. Our Christian friends can help us walk straight and keep us from doing wrong. But we have Another that has also promised to help, and that is God in heaven. He has promised to be with us and help us when we’re in need. He is only a prayer, a cry for help, away.

As the passage says, two are better than one when it comes to warmth.  When this was written, two travelers camping or even staying in the courtyard of a public inn would feel the cold of the Palestine night. They needed each other for warmth. If one did not have a companion to keep him warm, he must add to his already-heavy burden by bringing extra blankets to stay warm.

Two are better than one so that while one rests, the other can keep watch over the other. Palestine had many wild animals and even those who would wish to rob a traveler. Therefore, one watched over and cared for the other while traveling, which segues into verse twelve. Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.

When one person attacks another with the intent to rob or kill, the person attacked could easily be killed. But there is strength in numbers. If you unite with a friend, there is power to withstand the attack and win.

But the author finishes with an exciting statement. Solomon says, “And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  What is Solomon trying to say?

A person alone could easily be overpowered, quickly get hurt, encounter burdens and work that is too great and have difficulty staying warm when exposed to the elements. But with a friend, these things become easier. You have companionship, warmth, a shared workload, and can watch out for each other and pick the other up when he falls. There is strength and resilience when two combine their efforts. But as strong as a two-stranded cord or rope is, a three-stranded rope or cord is even stronger. When we unite ourselves with others and add Christ, we have a three-stranded rope or cord. It is a bond not quickly broken.

Christ has asked us to unite with each other and unite with Him, and when we do, it forms a bond that is not quickly broken. Jesus has promised to watch over us. To comfort and strengthen us and He asks us to do this for others.

–Lester Bentley pastors the Northeast Wyoming church district; photo by UnSplash