“Then I returned and saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold, the tears of those who were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.”
Solomon now turns his attention on the relationships between the various layers of society and the relationships between workers and managers or controllers of work situations. He is going to examine oppression and the suppression of the human spirit by the cares and circumstances of this life we live on earth, and by the hierarchical relationships in work and social settings.
Solomon looks at the work of all the oppressors under the sun, those who control the work place, or other organisational settings, according to the principles of this world. He sees the compulsion to work in order to live, and the necessity of putting the person’s life under the authority of the manager or “bosses.” The oppression that goes along with it, is systemic, and it radiates from the human heart as the desire to control others and situations for ones own ends. It is the accepted way of this world, and the systems and structures that are set up, contribute to the support of all the regimes that we all find ourselves under.
He sees the tears of the oppressed and there is no comfort for them in this life, or refuge for them to go. The oppressors hold all the cards and all authority and power is on their side, but the oppressed have nothing to comfort them in their pains. Those in control take control and keep control.
This is true for every generation and every era in human history. This is the way of the world and the way of politics and economics. It is the world system and it ruins people’s lives.
“Because of the oppression of the weak and because of the groaning of the needy, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in safety from those who malign him.”
God is always on the side of the oppressed. He will not stand by and see them ruined and constantly maligned. But the suffering of those who are taken advantage of is real, and we can see it in our world today and also in our own lives. The way the world has been set up by humans is that the oppressor always gets the upper hand, but not with God. God will not let oppression last forever, but will step in with justice and equity, and so also should we. We should have regard for those who suffer in this way. We should be on the side of those who fight for justice and equity and equal rights for all people. It is difficult to do this because groups that get together to do so, have other agendas too, which can lead us into other kinds of folly.
We all live in this world, wether we are Christians or not, and we all suffer from the effects of unfairness in some way at some time. We long for a different way, and revolutions start to try to release people from the vice they are held in with the “bosses” always holding the upper hand, but it ends in more oppression.
“You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. “‘The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. “‘You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind; but you shall fear your God. I am the LORD.
“‘You shall do no injustice in judgment: you shall not be partial to the poor, nor show favoritism to the great; but you shall judge your neighbour in righteousness. “‘You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people. “‘You shall not endanger the life of your neighbor. I am the LORD.
“‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbour, and not bear sin because of him. “‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am the LORD.”
God has another way, but it is not of this world. It will not take hold until the kingdom is come in all it’s fullness and evil is finally and irrevocably cast out by God. Until then, we have to live under the system – in the world, but not of the world.
It is easy to become an oppressor. You don’t have to be a big leader or a manager in an exalted position, or a “boss.” It is the motivation of the heart and the mindset of the person what makes them behave and speak in a particular way. You do not have to be in charge of big business or of some organisation, but just have the self- righteous mindset that you are always in the right and are in change of life. We can easily set ourself up as God and become the judge, jury and executioner of other people’s lives. We do this through what we say.
Slandering someone either outwardly or inwardly is speaking against the person unjustly. It is the same thing as gossip and should be strenuously avoided. If you have been on the wrong side of gossip, you will know how damaging it is and how unjust. The person being gossiped about has no recompense and no opportunity to defend themselves, therefore bad things are spoken with impunity and injustice is said and done. Slander and gossip affect the way we view the person being talked about, and can damage another person’s point of view, and cause unrest and heartache. We must not indulgence ourselves in this oppression, because it hurts the person being talked about and also damages our own credibility.
Oppression will never succeed, because God is against it, and neither will gossip or slander. It is easy to fall into it, and we have all done so, and must repent and return to the Lord. It is the way of the backslider, and engenders self-righteousness, which God hates. It also comes from self-righteousness, which is a heart sin and one we will always have to fight. This is the case for all sin, and what makes the Christian life difficult.
Most people who are oppressed at work, or in social settings have no place of comfort or refuge, but there is a refuge with the Lord. Those who turn to Him are not disappointed for let down, for He will surely rescue the innocent and convict the guilty. The Christian walks through life in the strength of the Lord, and not in their own strength, and this is what makes them over-comers. We fight unfairness with faith in God and the resilience that comes through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
“ the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD raises up those who are bowed down. The LORD loves the righteous. The LORD preserves the foreigners. He upholds the fatherless and widow, but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.”
This does not just apply to the issues of this life, but to spiritual life too. Those who are oppressed by their own sin, can find release and forgiveness in Christ. The Lord can open our spiritual eyes, and lift us up when we are sorrowful and repentant because of our sin, and He will make us righteous. He will not let us be oppressed by the wicked of this world, but will protect His people from harm and keep them in safety. Sin will not always rule in our mortal bodies, but one day we will be free from this arch-enemy. Until then, we fight our temptations one by one and deal with the sin that so easily besets us and put it away for us every time.
Not so the wicked who persist with their sins and find excuses for them. We must subdue the evil intent of our hearts and the wickedness that comes from our lips, and and deeds that follow on from them.
“… who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins;”
As a Christian I am constantly oppressed by the sinfulness of my human, fleshly heart, and it always seeks to have the upper hand. It must be put to death and dealt with ruthlessly. I must identify this oppressor, and kill it dead or it will kill my spiritual life with God and render me an unprofitable servant.
“ Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
As we deal with the oppressor of sin, in our own lives, we can deal with the oppression of life on the outside music better and fight the fight of faith effectively. We will have the strength to pray and fight for others, so that they are over-comers too.
“You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”