The Oppressor and The Oppressed

Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort themSo I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.


Solomon is now looking outward into the world.  He is revealing what he has witnessed since he had access to whatever he wanted.  Here he talks about oppression.  His viewpoint is quite abrupt that it is better off for neither the oppressor nor the oppressed never existed.  It is an interesting perspective and I realize here that in the second half of verse 2, it seems as though Solomon is only talking about the oppressed having nobody to comfort them. But if we look at it in the context of this passage, we can see that he is talking about both sides;  neither the oppressed nor the oppressor has someone to bring them comfort.  Why should we have compassion on the oppressor?  Because their oppression is a result of brokenness.


In American society, we have taken a “hard stance” against the criminal.  Unless we suddenly find ourselves in their position, we don’t think they should have a “fair trial” or “equal representation.”  Yet the truth is, they are subject to just as much (if not, more) brokenness than their victims.  This isn’t to dismiss their actions, rather to highlight that our perspective of just locking away the offender in the name of justice isn’t just at all.  How much does society benefit from imprisonment?  We keep building more prisons and they keep filling up.  Instead of tending to the brokenness of individuals we just try to hide them so we can pretend to forget about them for a while.


One of the arguments against a loving God is the brokenness in this world.  Why is there oppression in the first place?  Genesis Chapter 3 explains it all, yet we don’t accept it.  Jesus came to show us how to resolve it in our own lives but still we don’t listen.  When He comes again it will all be over.  But until then, what do we do?  Solomon gives us a dreary outlook that the dead don’t have to deal with it anymore but that everyone would have been better off if they weren’t even born.  The victim and the victimizer are two roles that we all play to some extent as a result of our brokenness.


Jesus’ message is healing and refuge.  He is the comforter for both the oppressed and oppressor, victim and victimizer.  We might not think it is fair until we realize that as a result of our own brokenness, we too are the oppressor.  It might not be as a political leader or financial powerhouse, but it some way you are creating victims.  Once we recognize this truth maybe then we will start to understand the promises of God through Jesus and how we can surrender our faults to Him for healing and lasting change.  Until then, we will continue to be a victimizer.  Until then we will continue to accept the role as victim.


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