Why Is a Cord of Three Strands Not Easily Broken?
- Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Contributing Writer
- 2020 7 Dec
“A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12 (CSB)
What is this verse talking about and how does this apply to your life specifically? Let’s examine the truth of this verse.
What Is a Cord of Three Strands?
To help you understand this let me paint a picture for you. Every once in a while, my wife will go through the task of braiding our daughter’s hair. You should see the back-and-forth drama that they sometimes go through to get this done. In the braiding, she is intertwining the hair keeping it together. However, over time the braids have to be undone to wash her hair or whatever level of maintenance she needs. When it comes time to undo the braids, that is where the real “fun” begins. Over time the braids have become stronger and it becomes a really difficult task to undo them. If you have ever undone braids, you are probably shaking your head right now.
This is an example of how a cord of three strands works. It is simply a cord of three strands that become braided or intertwined together. This type of cord is very difficult to break. It doesn’t mean it can’t be broken; it just means it’s harder to do.
What Is the Full Meaning of Ecclesiastes 4:12?
To understand this one verse let’s back up a little bit and look at this full thought.
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (CSB)
When you read the full thought here, you discover that Solomon is talking about the power of relationships. This can apply to friendships, marriages, just about any type of relationship. In some weddings, they actually incorporate a three-cord braid as part of the ceremony. In this case, the three cords that are not easily broken represent the bride, the groom, and God. That is a fantastic representation, but since not everyone reading this is married, let’s consider some applications that will apply to everyone.
Practical Reality from Ecclesiastes
One of the most important things this passage of Scripture wants you to know is that we all need each other. After God created Adam, he said words that were true then and remain true to this day.
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” – Genesis 2:18
Many times, this gets applied in a marital sense, but this is true whether you are married or not. It is not good for you to be alone. The idea of a lone wolf or a person who thinks they don’t need anyone is not only bad for the individual, it is foreign to God’s design for humanity. We all need each other. I need you just as much as you need me. We were created for fellowship. This includes fellowship with God and with others.
3 Strands to Include in Your Three-strand Cord
I want you to look at this cord from a different perspective for a moment. I want to use the three-strand cord as an analogy for three cords you should consider in your life. I believe if you have these you will build the cord of three strands that is not easily broken. To do this let’s look at some of the verses from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
The Cord of Accountability
“For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:10
One of the cords you must have in your life is accountability. There must be people in your life that you can be open and honest with. There must be someone in your life that you will allow to correct, rebuke, encourage, and motivate you to be all that God has called you to be. The reason why many people fall or fall away is because they have no one they can be accountable to. Again, this falls into the trap of being alone. The whole point of accountability is to prevent you from falling but if you should fall it is great to know there is someone there ready to lift you up and restore you.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1
This is accountability in action.
The Cord of Unity
“Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?” – Ecclesiastes 4:11
The word I want you to focus on in this verse is together. This is the heartbeat of unity. Notice that Solomon says that one of the benefits of being together is warmth. If you apply this to your relationship with Jesus, one of the ways we keep God’s love burning in our hearts is by encouraging and inspiring each other. I remember when I was in college and I met some other young people who were on fire for Jesus. If you are not familiar with that terminology it simply means they loved Jesus and it showed in their words and actions. This type of love is contagious, and this type of love grows when you are united with other believers. As you connect with other believers who love God as much as you do it will keep the warm fire of God’s love burning in your heart.
The Cord of Resistance
“And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12
As you go through this Christian journey you will face challenges. Not only will they come externally from Satan, they will also come internally from your sinful nature. To fight these two enemies, you must at times resist and let’s face it sometimes you get tired. There is an expression in boxing that says fatigue makes cowards of us all. When you get tired you become vulnerable. This is where the body of Christ comes into play. When you are tired and at the point of being overpowered, your brother or sister in Christ can step in and help you stand strong. It is amazing how your courage and boldness can increase when you are not standing by yourself. Remember it all goes back to you were never created to be alone. When you are tired you will appreciate those around you helping you to make it through.
What Is the Result of This Three-strand Cord?
When you consider the impact of this type of three-strand cord in your life I think that two things happen. You can do more and you can be more. Consider Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.”
Ultimately the beauty of a three-strand cord is that it makes you stronger. God knew this from the beginning and there are plenty of scriptures throughout the Bible that support this. With this in mind, I want to ask you a question. Who are you connected to? This will make you stronger, more accountable, and more productive, so I will ask you again, who are you connected to?
It is essential that you get connected to others in the body of Christ. If those people don’t exist in your life, pray that God would bring them. Ultimately you will be better off for it. However, this will not just benefit you it will benefit those you are connected with. Sometimes you will be the cord that needs to be lifted up, and sometimes you will be the cord that lifts ups. Regardless of the role you will play, and they will change at times, just being part of that three-strand cord means that you will not be easily broken. You were not meant to be alone and neither was I. Let’s grow together, strengthening each other to be the people of God that he desires us to be.
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.