1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.
2 And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive.
3 But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
In Ecclesiastes 3:17, Qoholeth has already explained that God will bring those into judgment who have brought wickedness into places of judgment. However, the fact of God’s coming judgment does not end the present evil.
What then is a Christian to do? First, we must see the fact of oppression: “I saw all the oppressions ….” Until we see the oppression, nothing can be done by us. Second, we must feel love, empathy with the brutal effects of sin (for all oppression is sin and results from sin), “And behold, the tears of the oppressed”.
Third, what do the oppressed lack? “And they had no one to comfort them.” He repeats this twice, thus, it is a primary point of the passage. In fact, their pain is so great, that it would be almost better to have not lived than to suffer such oppression.
This is not the matter in Ecclesiastes. It is also not the end of the matter in the Bible. What then must be done by the Christian? Well, we know God’s great hatred of oppression: the prophets are full of denunciation of those who oppress the poor. Second, we know that God has given many commands to his people concerning oppression and comfort. Qoheleth tells us the oppressed suffer in part (perhaps the worse part) because they have no one to comfort them.
Consider now what Jesus says of the judgment:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’