Spiderman is described in a song from the 2014 movie as a “lonely hero.”1 I guess all heroes tend to be lonely, since they believe that they’re following a calling that others aren’t aware of. 

The author of the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, who refers to himself The Preacher,2 expresses a similar idea in one of his poetic musings, but he surprises the reader by transferring the hero robe from one lonely person to another:

I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed person—with no one to comfort him! On the side of his oppressor there was power—with no one to comfort him either. (Ecclesiastes 4:1)

An oppressed person is woefully lonely, with no comforters. But his oppressor is just as isolated and comfortless. One sheds tears, the other wields power, but both are starkly alone. 

Yet, humans keep trying to go it alone. Sometimes a person feels he has to work hard to build up his “lonely hero” status by taking down his neighbor. As The Preacher puts it:

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from one person’s envy of another. This also is futility and a chasing after wind. (verse 4)

A person who consistently shuts others out, people who might potentially be his comforters and allies, will have trouble finding any meaning in his self-focused life:

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: the case of solitary individuals, without sons or brothers; yet there is no end to all their toil, and their eyes are never satisfied with riches. “For whom am I toiling,” they ask, “and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is futility and leads to an unhappy life. (verses 7-8) 

Finally, The Preacher moves in a more positive direction, describing what can happen if the “lonely hero” decides to let someone else in:

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other, but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. (verses 9 through 12a) 

Spiderman found out that, when he opened himself to having Gwen Stacey as a friend and love interest, he became a much more effective superhero. As The Preacher had predicted, they kept each other warm; also, the combination of his superpowers with her mind and heart was a recipe for success. 

Then The Preacher adds this kicker as a bonus:

A threefold cord is not quickly broken. (verse 12b)

If you need a strong rope, two cords are better than one; three cords are even better than two. Especially when the third cord is God. All you lonely heroes, you’ll be stronger if you find a person you can be close to — in marriage, in family, in friendship. Sometimes it may be hard to maintain that bond, but if you ask God to be the third cord, he’ll twist your lives into a force that can never be broken.

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Pastor George Van Alstine

1 It’s On Again, sung by Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar. The song can be heard, with lyrics superimposed here.

2 A name the author uses 7 times (1:1, 2,12; 7:27; 12:8,9,10) to describe himself, and also the title of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible.