Bible: Ecclesiastes 7-11

Life is Brief and Death is Certain!

7:1 A good reputation 1  is better 2  than precious 3  perfume; 4 

likewise, 5  the day of one’s 6  death 7  is better than the day of one’s birth. 8 

7:2 It is better to go to a funeral 9 

than a feast. 10 

For death 11  is the destiny 12  of every person, 13 

and the living should 14  take this 15  to heart.

7:3 Sorrow 16  is better than laughter,

because sober reflection 17  is good for the heart. 18 

7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,

but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking. 19 

Frivolous Living Versus Wisdom

7:5 It is better for a person to receive 20  a rebuke from those who are wise 21 

than to listen to the song 22  of fools.

7:6 For like the crackling of quick-burning thorns 23  under a cooking pot,

so is the laughter of the fool.

This kind of folly 24  also is useless. 25 

Human Wisdom Overturned by Adversity

7:7 Surely oppression 26  can turn a wise person into a fool; 27 

likewise, 28  a bribe corrupts 29  the heart. 30 

7:8 The end of a matter 31  is better than its beginning;

likewise, patience 32  is better than pride. 33 

7:9 Do not let yourself be quickly provoked, 34 

for anger resides in the lap 35  of fools.

7:10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?” 36 

for it is not wise to ask that. 37 

Wisdom Can Lengthen One’s Life

7:11 Wisdom, like 38  an inheritance, is a good thing;

it benefits those who see the light of day. 39 

7:12 For wisdom provides 40  protection, 41 

just as 42  money provides protection. 43 

But the advantage of knowledge is this:

Wisdom preserves the life 44  of its owner.

Wisdom Acknowledges God’s Orchestration of Life

7:13 Consider the work of God:

For who can make straight what he has bent?

7:14 In times of prosperity 45  be joyful,

but in times of adversity 46  consider this:

God has made one as well as the other, 47 

so that no one can discover what the future holds. 48 

Exceptions to the Law of Retribution

7:15 During the days of my fleeting life 49  I have seen both 50  of these things:

Sometimes 51  a righteous person dies prematurely 52  in spite of 53  his righteousness,

and sometimes 54  a wicked person lives long 55  in spite of his evil deeds.

7:16 So do not be excessively righteous or excessively 56  wise; 57 

otherwise 58  you might 59  be disappointed. 60 

7:17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool;

otherwise 61  you might die before your time.

7:18 It is best to take hold of one warning 62  without letting go of the other warning; 63 

for the one who fears God will follow 64  both warnings. 65 

Wisdom Needed Because No One is Truly Righteous

7:19 Wisdom gives a wise person more protection 66 

than ten rulers in a city.

7:20 For 67  there is not one truly 68  righteous person on the earth

who continually does good and never sins.

7:21 Also, do not pay attention to everything that people 69  say;

otherwise, 70  you might even hear 71  your servant cursing you.

7:22 For you know in your own heart 72 

that you also have cursed others many times.

Human Wisdom is Limited

7:23 I have examined all this by wisdom;

I said, “I am determined 73  to comprehend this” 74  – but it was beyond my grasp. 75 

7:24 Whatever has happened is beyond human 76  understanding; 77 

it is far deeper than anyone can fathom. 78 

True Righteousness and Wisdom are Virtually Nonexistent

7:25 I tried 79  to understand, examine, and comprehend 80 

the role of 81  wisdom in the scheme of things, 82 

and to understand the stupidity of wickedness 83  and the insanity of folly. 84 

7:26 I discovered this: 85 

More bitter than death is the kind of 86  woman 87  who is like a hunter’s snare; 88 

her heart is like a hunter’s net and her hands are like prison chains.

The man who pleases God escapes her,

but the sinner is captured by her.

7:27 The Teacher says:

I discovered this while trying to discover the scheme of things, item by item.

7:28 What I have continually sought, I have not found;

I have found only 89  one upright 90  man among a thousand,

but I have not found one upright woman among all of them.

7:29 This alone have I discovered: God made humankind upright,

but they have sought many evil schemes.

Human Government Demonstrates Limitations of Wisdom

8:1 Who is 91  a 92  wise person? Who knows the solution 93  to a problem? 94 

A person’s wisdom brightens his appearance, 95  and softens 96  his harsh countenance. 97 

8:2 Obey the king’s command, 98 

because you took 99  an oath before God 100  to be loyal to him. 101 

8:3 Do not rush out of the king’s presence in haste – do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, 102 

for he can do whatever he pleases.

8:4 Surely the king’s authority 103  is absolute; 104 

no one can say 105  to him, “What are you doing?

8:5 Whoever obeys his 106  command will not experience harm,

and a wise person 107  knows the proper time 108  and procedure.

8:6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,

for the oppression 109  of the king 110  is severe upon his victim. 111 

8:7 Surely no one knows the future, 112 

and no one can tell another person what will happen. 113 

8:8 Just as no one has power over the wind to restrain it, 114 

so no one has power over the day of his 115  death.

Just as no one can be discharged during the battle, 116 

so wickedness cannot rescue the wicked. 117 

8:9 While applying 118  my mind 119  to everything 120  that happens in this world, 121  I have seen all this:

Sometimes one person 122  dominates 123  other people 124  to their harm. 125 

Contradictions to the Law of Retribution

8:10 Not only that, 126  but I have seen the wicked approaching 127  and entering the temple, 128 

and as they left the holy temple, 129  they

boasted 130  in the city that they had done so.

This also is an enigma. 131 

8:11 When 132  a sentence 133  is not executed 134  at once against a crime, 135 

the human heart 136  is encouraged to do evil. 137 

8:12 Even though a sinner might commit a hundred crimes 138  and still live a long time, 139 

yet I know that it will go well with God-fearing people 140  – for they stand in fear 141  before him.

8:13 But it will not go well with the wicked,

nor will they 142  prolong their 143  days like a shadow, 144 

because they 145  do not stand in fear 146  before God.

8:14 Here is 147  another 148  enigma 149  that occurs on earth:

Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve, 150 

and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve. 151 

I said, “This also is an enigma.”

Enjoy Life In Spite of Its Injustices

8:15 So I recommend the enjoyment of life, 152 

for there is nothing better on earth 153  for a person to do 154  except 155  to eat, drink, and enjoy 156  life. 157 

So 158  joy 159  will accompany him in his toil

during the days of his life which God gives him on earth. 160 

Limitations of Human Wisdom

8:16 When I tried 161  to gain 162  wisdom

and to observe the activity 163  on earth

even though it prevents anyone from sleeping day or night 164 

8:17 then I discerned all that God has done: 165 

No one really comprehends what happens 166  on earth. 167 

Despite all human 168  efforts to discover it, no one can ever grasp 169  it. 170 

Even if 171  a wise person claimed 172  that he understood,

he would not really comprehend 173  it. 174 

Everyone Will Die

9:1 So I reflected on all this, 175  attempting to clear 176  it all up.

I concluded that 177  the righteous and the wise, as well as their works, are in the hand of God;

whether a person will be loved or hated 178 

no one knows what lies ahead. 179 

9:2 Everyone shares the same fate 180 

the righteous and the wicked,

the good and the bad, 181 

the ceremonially clean and unclean,

those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

What happens to the good person, also happens to the sinner; 182 

what happens to those who make vows, also happens to those who are afraid to make vows.

9:3 This is the unfortunate fact 183  about everything that happens on earth: 184 

the same fate awaits 185  everyone.

In addition to this, the hearts of all people 186  are full of evil,

and there is folly in their hearts during their lives – then they die. 187 

Better to Be Poor but Alive than Rich but Dead

9:4 But whoever is among 188  the living 189  has hope;

a live dog is better than a dead lion.

9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything;

they have no further reward – and even the memory of them disappears. 190 

9:6 What they loved, 191  as well as what they hated 192  and envied, 193  perished long ago,

and they no longer have a part in anything that happens on earth. 194 

Life is Brief, so Cherish its Joys

9:7 Go, eat your food 195  with joy,

and drink your wine with a happy heart,

because God has already approved your works.

9:8 Let your clothes always be white,

and do not spare precious ointment on your head.

9:9 Enjoy 196  life with your beloved wife 197  during all the days of your fleeting 198  life

that God 199  has given you on earth 200  during all your fleeting days; 201 

for that is your reward in life and in your burdensome work 202  on earth. 203 

9:10 Whatever you find to do with your hands, 204 

do it with all your might,

because there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, 205 

the place where you will eventually go. 206 

Wisdom Cannot Protect against Seemingly Chance Events

9:11 Again, 207  I observed this on the earth: 208 

the race is not always 209  won by the swiftest,

the battle is not always won by the strongest;

prosperity 210  does not always belong to those who are the wisest,

wealth does not always belong to those who are the most discerning,

nor does success 211  always come to those with the most knowledge

for time and chance may overcome 212  them all.

9:12 Surely, no one 213  knows his appointed time! 214 

Like fish that are caught in a deadly 215  net, and like birds that are caught in a snare

just like them, all people 216  are ensnared 217  at an unfortunate 218  time that falls upon them suddenly.

Most People Are Not Receptive to Wise Counsel

9:13 This is what I also observed about wisdom on earth, 219 

and it is a great burden 220  to me:

9:14 There was once 221  a small city with a few men in it,

and a mighty king attacked it, besieging 222  it and building strong 223  siege works against it.

9:15 However, a poor but wise man lived in the city, 224 

and he could have delivered 225  the city by his wisdom,

but no one listened 226  to that poor man.

9:16 So I concluded that wisdom is better than might, 227 

but a poor man’s wisdom is despised; no one ever listens 228  to his advice. 229 

Wisdom versus Fools, Sin, and Folly

9:17 The words of the wise are heard in quiet,

more than the shouting of a ruler is heard 230  among fools.

9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,

but one sinner can destroy much that is good.

10:1 One dead fly 231  makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, 232 

so a little folly can outweigh 233  much wisdom. 234 

Wisdom Can Be Nullified By the Caprice of Rulers

10:2 A wise person’s good sense protects him, 235 

but a fool’s lack of sense leaves him vulnerable. 236 

10:3 Even when a fool walks along the road he lacks sense, 237 

and shows 238  everyone what a fool he is. 239 

10:4 If the anger 240  of the ruler flares up 241  against you, do not resign 242  from your position, 243 

for a calm 244  response 245  can undo 246  great offenses.

10:5 I have seen another 247  misfortune 248  on the earth: 249 

It is an error a ruler makes. 250 

10:6 Fools 251  are placed in many positions of authority, 252 

while wealthy men sit in lowly positions.

10:7 I have seen slaves 253  on horseback

and princes walking on foot 254  like slaves.

Wisdom is Needed to Avert Dangers in Everyday Life

10:8 One who digs a pit may 255  fall into it,

and one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. 256 

10:9 One who quarries stones may be injured by them;

one who splits logs may be endangered by them.

10:10 If an iron axhead 257  is blunt and a workman 258  does not sharpen 259  its edge, 260 

he must exert a great deal of effort; 261 

so wisdom has the advantage of giving success.

10:11 If the snake should bite before it is charmed, 262 

the snake charmer 263  is in trouble. 264 

Words and Works of Wise Men and Fools

10:12 The words of a wise person 265  win him 266  favor, 267 

but the words 268  of a fool are self-destructive. 269 

10:13 At the beginning his words 270  are foolish

and at the end 271  his talk 272  is wicked madness, 273 

10:14 yet a fool keeps on babbling. 274 

No one knows what will happen;

who can tell him what will happen in the future? 275 

10:15 The toil of a stupid fool 276  wears him out, 277 

because he does not even know the way to the city. 278 

The Problem with Foolish Rulers

10:16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is childish, 279 

and your princes feast in the morning!

10:17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobility, 280 

and your princes feast at the proper time 281 with self-control and not in drunkenness. 282 

10:18 Because of laziness the roof 283  caves in,

and because of idle hands 284  the house leaks.

10:19 Feasts 285  are made 286  for laughter,

and wine makes life merry, 287 

but money is the answer 288  for everything.

10:20 Do not curse a king even in your thoughts,

and do not curse the rich 289  while in your bedroom; 290 

for a bird 291  might report what you are thinking, 292 

or some winged creature 293  might repeat your 294  words. 295 

Ignorance of the Future Demands Diligence in the Present

11:1 Send 296  your grain 297  overseas, 298 

for after many days you will get a return. 299 

11:2 Divide your merchandise 300  among seven or even eight 301  investments, 302 

for you do not know 303  what calamity 304  may happen on earth.

11:3 If the clouds are full of rain, they will empty themselves on the earth,

and whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, the tree will lie wherever it falls.

11:4 He who watches the wind will not sow,

and he who observes the clouds will not reap. 305 

11:5 Just as you do not know the path 306  of the wind,

or how the bones form 307  in the womb of a pregnant woman, 308 

so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

11:6 Sow your seed in the morning,

and do not stop working 309  until the evening; 310 

for you do not know which activity 311  will succeed 312 

whether this one or that one, or whether both will prosper equally. 313 

Life Should Be Enjoyed Because Death is Inevitable

11:7 Light 314  is sweet, 315 

and it is pleasant for a person 316  to see the sun. 317 

11:8 So, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all,

but let him remember that the days of darkness 318  will be many – all that is about to come is obscure. 319 

Enjoy Life to the Fullest under the Fear of God

11:9 Rejoice, young man, while you are young, 320 

and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.

Follow the impulses 321  of your heart and the desires 322  of your eyes,

but know that God will judge your motives and actions. 323 

11:10 Banish 324  emotional stress 325  from your mind. 326 

and put away pain 327  from your body; 328 

for youth 329  and the prime of life 330  are fleeting. 331 

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