Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | April 30, 2011

Sermon on Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 (Wedding of Daron Ehly and Lori Wickliffe)

Don’t Leave Each Other Alone

  • Order of Service: Christian Marriage
  • Lessons: Genesis 2:18-24, Ecclesiastes 4:7-12
  • Hymns:  Christian Worship 600, The Lutheran Hymnal 620

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business!  Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially you, Daron and Lori:

It is not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18).  Already in Paradise, even before sin had made things so meaningless, the LORD God declared that man and woman were meant for each other.  This was good and pleased God.  And it pleased Adam too.  When he woke up from his sleep, he looked at God’s gift and said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Gen. 2:23)!  Adam, the greatest of all thinkers and philosophers, truly, the most interesting man alive, understood that there isn’t much better in life than finding a kindred spirit, especially when that person is your husband or wife.

But how hard that person is to find, isn’t she?  So often so much of life feels like that meaninglessness Solomon described.  You’re alone.  No one helps.  Work drags on.  What you accomplish isn’t enough.  And then, you realize, someone else gets it anyways.  It’s easy to get glass half empty, and say with Solomon, I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.  And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool (Ecc. 2:18-19)?

Yet Solomon doesn’t advise you to just blow your brains out.  He reminds you that thanks to sin, so much of what we think is important is really meaningless.  You have so many ideas of what you need, what you want, what you must have.  But how many people have you alienated in your search for whatever it is you want, which, being dust and ashes like you, is pretty much meaningless anyways?  Or, the apostle John puts it, For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world (1 John 2:16).

Far from advocating retreat into some monastery though, Solomon finds meaning in the meaninglessness.  A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God (Ecc. 2:24).  And:  Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun (Ecc. 9:9).  Even with sin in the world, this is still God’s world and God still pours out blessings upon it and upon you.  Especially you two, Daron and Lori, who now realize what Adam and Eve realized – You are no longer alone.  And I have just one piece of advice for you – Don’t leave each other alone!  Listen to Solomon.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work (Ecc. 4:9).  Many hands make light work, right?  Two hands have become four, likewise four feet, four eyes, four ears…  Marriage unites bank accounts and nest eggs, personal possessions and families.  Though, I hope that our single friends, those who have not yet found their spouse, those who have lost a spouse, or those who do not plan on finding a spouse, understand that here, and nowhere, does God say that singleness does not equal sinfulness.  It’s easy to see that these words in Ecclesiastes don’t just apply to marriage.  They apply to humanity.  But today, for you Daron and Lori, let’s think about these words and your marriage.

Solomon continues:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up (Ecc. 4:10).  Obviously, there’s the physical application.  But apply it body and soul.  You now each have someone specifically assigned to help you up, you first, before all others.  You have someone to be there when you’re sick, and when you’re low.  The husband and the wife offer each other the first and last encouragements, advice, counsel, and commiseration.  Solomon goes further: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves (Ecc. 4:12a).  Marriage means it’s not just Daron.  It’s not just Lori.  It’s Daron and Lori.  The Ehly’s.

Solomon develops that thought:  If two lie down together, they will keep warm (Ecc. 4:11).  Lost or stranded in the cold, how many people have huddled together to share body heat?  Even with blankets, there’s more warmth with two in the bed than one.  You now have the ability to serve each other in special ways that people who aren’t married haven’t been called to do.  As the LORD said, The two shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).  You share your bodies, not just for survival heat, but in that most intimate display of unity and love, the gift of sexual expression that belongs to you alone, that belongs to marriage alone, that belongs to one man and one woman united in marriage alone.  And from that flows all kinds of warmth.  You are able to hear things from the other than no one else will, can, or should.  You are able to warm each other with confession and absolution – rebuking the sinner, forgiving the sinner, reconciling with each other.

Finally, Solomon says, A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecc. 4:12b).  You’ve got two now.  And, in worldly terms, that’s like having three.  But pastors and judges married lots of Daron and Lori’s today, and many of them are only two.  It’s interesting, isn’t it, that Solomon talked about twos, but in his grand conclusion talked of three strands.  Listen to the end of Ecclesiastes:  Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them.’…  Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecc. 12:1, 13).

Physically you guys might have what you need.  Emotionally you might be peas and carrots.  But spiritually, you must remember your third, the One who gives you strength, the One who instituted marriage, the One who, by faith in Him, has become your Groom, your Husband!  Jesus Christ is the third strand that makes you unbreakable!  Think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego facing Nebuchadnezzar.  He said, “Bow down to my idol or die in the flames!”  And they said, The God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand (Daniel 3:16-17).  A cord of three strands not broken.  Think of Christ Himself, in the desert facing the devil, in the Garden facing trial, on the cross, bearing the weight and burden of your sins.  He didn’t break.  He had God’s Word.  He had His Father.  He had the promise – from death comes life!  A perfect life in exchange for a world’s sins atoned.  A cord of three strands not broken.  All else in your life and your marriage might be right.  But without Christ, it’s all wrong.  And it will break.  But with Christ, sin breaks, the devil breaks, and death breaks.  With Christ, things are very good again.  With Christ, you are never alone, for He never leaves, He never forsakes.  He never stops forgiving.  Amen.

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