He intimates that three are better than two. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is showing the principle that unity is better than singularity, and as people who are likewise unified with those who were there before, the institution, the family, or whatever, keeps getting stronger and stronger. As long as all of the minds are undivided, they add to the strength of those who are already there.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Companionship has the benefit of producing strength. In unity, there is strength. In these proverbs given in verses 9-12, he means not only, for example, is there help in companionship for somebody who literally falls in a ditch (verse 10), but also, if somebody makes a mistake, a companion can cover it and maybe help him out so that the error does not hurt him so badly. Companionship gives strength because a companion can offer so much help.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)
The last portion of the passage refers to a threefold cord. If one individual and another individual make a twofold cord, the threefold cord must have an additional element that we can infer to be God Almighty. If God is not placed first in every liaison that we human beings make (marriage, friendship, or church fellowship) the relationship will be short lived.
Consider these scriptural warnings:
» Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; but the posterity of the righteous will be delivered. (Proverbs 11:21)
» Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though they join forces, none will go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)
Any alliance or friendship not based upon God's laws and principles will not succeed. We are warned to stay away from any such bond:
If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods," which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, . . . you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him. . . . (Deuteronomy 13:6, 8)
Close or intimate friends should have an intense love for God's law. Any alliance made between two people that explicitly or implicitly subverts God's laws is destined to be destroyed.
God set in motion those immutable laws that bind one person to another. There are laws of attraction that bring human beings with similar traits together. Cliques also adhere or cohere on this principle.
Some studies in human behavior suggest that people bond with one another because they see aspects of their own personalities in others (sometimes good, such as a common love for music or literature, and sometimes bad, such as a proclivity to be a clutter-bug or indecisive). The recognition of a parallel trait in someone else causes us to feel protective toward that person.
For instance, some social analysts have speculated that the reason the United States Senate did not carry out the House of Representatives recommendations to expel President Bill Clinton from office was a timidity rising from their own parallel sins and iniquities. As the wife of a prominent radio commentator has suggested, "Bill Clinton makes us comfortable with our own sins."
David F. Maas
Godly Friendship: A Priceless Commodity
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Ecclesiastes 4:12: