“Threefold Cord – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12″ acrylic on canvas, 20″x20” c. 2016 © by Donna Gonzalez
This painting is what I chose for a sister in the Lord who sent in her favorite bible verse that I had requested from friends in August of this year. I painted this artwork last year. The composition is comprised of 80 painted mosaics neatly placed together to form this unique pattern. The result is warm, inviting and quite pleasing to look at. And looks something like lace or latticework, of interwoven cords of yellow, orange, and red against a very deep burgundy that mimics a deep warm brown. Amazing how some very deep hues appear much different than its original color!
The scripture for this painting comes from Ecclesiastes 4 verses 9-12:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Old King Solomon was the wisest, most wealthiest of all the kings in Jerusalem in the era of which he lived and composed a lengthy discourse of his memoirs containing his experience, knowledge and wisdom which was granted to him. These six short sentences speak of the importance of having a good friend in one’s life, especially one that is beloved, trusted, and faithful.
A scripture that came to mind as I pondered over this artwork and its verse is: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
Hmm…we’ll get to that in a moment.
It’s the title of this piece, taken from the last verse of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and the artwork’s pattern in relation to Proverbs 18:24 that I want to focus on. I’m not going to take it to the extreme, you may come to a different conclusion than I and that’s all right. There may be more scriptural truth here but this is what I noticed so far.
Iconography: The orange cord meanders at a decorative pace horizontally, while the yellow cord runs vertically twisting every now and then. The red cord travels horizontally with slight undulation among the yellow and orange cords. The orange cord represents man, the yellow cord represents woman. The red cord represents Christ.
So how does this pattern relate anything at all to Ecclesiastes 4:12 and Proverbs 18:24 you may ask? Well, a lot actually.
Men and women as we already know are so different from one another and I’m not just referring to our gender. Often, we don’t understand each other relationally or emotionally. Women are a complex mystery to men and likewise women can’t figure out why men do what they do and some conclude they must have come from another world. Yet despite our many differences both often become best of friends coming to the aid of each other. Sometimes the result is of two lives desiring a lifelong faithful commitment to each other instituted by God in marriage.
This is represented by the yellow and orange cords intersecting each other at two different angles, just as a man and a woman were not meant to be clones of each other identical in every way, but to have variances in our makeup, experiences, dreams, desires, talents, and ability.
But notice there is also some space between the two cords. One cord doesn’t dominate or control the other, nor one cord crowd the other preventing the other from moving, neither do they create a tangled mess. Instead just the opposite occurs, both the yellow and orange cords harmonize with each other in lovely lacework pattern where each contributes. Without the yellow cord with its circles or triangles the pattern is incomplete, without the orange cord the pattern is also incomplete.
Now, in a painting an artist will deliberately position an object or a subject to be dominate, by creating that object or subject larger, or exaggerated, or more colorful, or separate from all the other things in the artwork to purposefully call attention to the viewer to look right here, because this is the most significant thing about this artwork. That object or subject is called the main focal point. All the other lesser elements within that painting will work to draw the viewer’s eye along towards the main focal point so the viewer really doesn’t pay much attention to the lesser objects or elements in that painting. That is called hierarchy in art, where there are degrees of rank and order among all the objects or subjects within a painting.
Did you notice there is no hierarchy in this painting? Neither the yellow cord nor the orange cord stands out as the main hierarchical element in this artwork. Both cords are equal, of the same tonality, shape and size, one doesn’t dominate the other by any differences in texture, size or position, other than the individual color there is nothing to suggest hierarchy. Both cords have their own unique style and color and each one’s movement in the artwork creates beauty.
In marriage, both husband and wife are a unique creation in their God-given talents, attributes and in the gifting the Holy Spirit has imparted to each one. Both are to work alongside each other, not dominate each other, or oppress or abuse the other. Husband and wife are called to love one another dearly as Christ loves His Church, by showing reciprocal submission to each other out of mutual respect for one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:21.
The red cord represents Christ, who is the only One positionally and spiritually the Lord and Head over both the husband and wife, who joins them in marriage. The red cord weaves in close between the orange and yellow cords symbolizing Christ being very near to both husband and wife who is the Friend who sticks closer than any brother.
Notice the red cord isn’t ornate either, nor flamboyant, extravagant in color, or larger than any other element in the painting to even remotely suggests hierarchy. Is not that how our Lord Jesus is? Humble, never ostentatious. Though in reality Christ’s hierarchical position is the main focal point in a Christian marriage as both Lord and Head over the marriage and over each person within the marriage.
Lastly, it is the red cord which makes the twofold cord into a threefold cord in the painting. Without Christ as the solid foundation in a marriage it can become broken and eventually destroyed through constant wear and tear of the storms in life; however, a threefold cord with Christ as the sure foundation in the marriage is much stronger and able to withstand all the storms of life.
For those who are single, Christ still remains as your Friend who sticks closer than any brother.
May you be encouraged by this post and remain strong in your faith!
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