“I returned and I saw vanity under the sun. There is one and there is not a second; there is also not a son or a brother for him. There is no end to all his anxieties. Also, his eyes are not satisfied with wealth. ‘For whom am I anxious?’ and ‘for whom am I depriving my soul of goodness?’ This is vanity also and it is an evil business.”
It never ceases to impress me as to the relevance of the scriptures. Times change; countries rise and fall; technology advances exponentially from generation to generation; yet the human condition is much the same. In the preceding verses we saw Solomon address the problem of laziness; here he moves to what we would call the “work-a-holic.” Here is the person who has become so consumed with his career and success that nothing satisfies him. He is not satisfied with the wealth he has earned because he has no one to share it with. So, he labors, struggles through anxious times that go along with our work and toil and deprives himself of worldly goodness…all for what? He has no brother nor a son to share his success with. In fact, Solomon sees that there is no second — no help-mate walking alongside of him.
In creation, God pronounced that it was not good that man be alone (Genesis 2:18). In the most basic sense, man was not alone — he lived in perfect relationship with God. Yet, this fellowship is not of what God was speaking. No, Adam needed a helpmate: one who could share life with him, who could learn from him and alongside of him, and one who could suffer alongside of him in their struggles with and against sin. There is great blessing that comes from this very unique relationship. That does not mean that marriage is always an easy thing, as one writer puts it, it is one of God’s tools to sanctify us. Yet, many deprive themselves of the benefit of this relationship due to an obsessive commitment with work or with personal achievements.
As a pastor, one of my concerns in our culture is the breakdown and redefinition of what marriage is and the number of divorces that take place. My large concern is that people go into marriage with almost an entirely wrong mindset…they think that they are “in love” and they tingle all over in the presence of their boyfriend or girlfriend, but “in love” is far different from loving another. The first is a feeling and feelings come and go. The second is a choice that we make — a choice to enter into a life-long, binding covenant where you cease to exist as an individual but are made one flesh with your spouse. And so, if your arm gets injured or diseased, one tries to heal it long before amputation is considered an option; in a marriage, if there is division or problems due to sin, one seeks to heal the problem through repentance and a reminder of the covenantal promise, “until death do us part.”
One may apply this in other ways…for example, the Rabbi’s speak of the relationship between a teacher and his disciples or the relationship between a businessman and his partner. Yet, the most basic institution upon which society is built is that of the family…or even more basic than that, upon the marriage of one man to one woman. It is not good for man to be alone.