In this dog-eat-dog world, relationships are the lifeline that keep us going, yet Solomon admits that relationships under the sun can easily dissolve into envy and strife. We desperately need one another, but under the sun we compete and become jealous of each other so that it keeps us from our own success as in folding our hands and refusing to do anything to help ourselves or others. We lack balance and the ability to appreciate one another and to work together.
Still, Solomon acknowledges the huge benefit of mutual support (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Solomon says it’s better to be with someone else—two are better than one. Being alone is a miserable business. But under the sun even good relationships can become “empty wind.” First, everyone dies—so even the best of relationships come to an end. And the Critic rightly asks, what’s the point? Second, most every relationship under the sun is transactional—give and take. I give what I think will enable me to take: What do I have to do to get what I want? I want to be safe, so I find someone else to become my ally. I want to be warm, so I find someone to share the covers. I want to succeed, so I find someone else to share my dreams/efforts/goals. In the earthly context, relationships are often full of self-interest.
But life under the Son is different—relationships between people flow out of relationship with Christ. And Jesus simply loves—without judgment, expectation, negotiation, or condition. Loving relationships with God and one another are what we were made and meant for. They provide meaning and purpose to life. They are what Solomon was searching for, but the missing ingredient was God’s love—the love of the Son. Life in and under the Son is the antidote to envy, bitterness, and the common transactional relationships of life under the sun!