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Ecclesiastes 7 - 12

A Disillusioned View of Life

7A good name is better than precious ointment,
   and the day of death, than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning
   than to go to the house of feasting;
for this is the end of everyone,
   and the living will lay it to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
   for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning;
   but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
   than to hear the song of fools.
6 For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
   so is the laughter of fools;
   this also is vanity.
7 Surely oppression makes the wise foolish,
   and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
   the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.
9 Do not be quick to anger,
   for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
   For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance,
   an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
   and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to the one who possesses it.
13 Consider the work of God;
   who can make straight what he has made crooked?

14 On the day of prosperity be joyful, and on the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them.

The Riddles of Life

15 In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing. 16Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? 17Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? 18It is good that you should take hold of the one, without letting go of the other; for the one who fears God shall succeed with both.

19 Wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten rulers that are in a city.

20 Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.

21 Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; 22your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.

23 All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, ‘I will be wise’, but it was far from me. 24That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? 25I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness. 26I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters; one who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. 27See, this is what I found, says the Teacher,* adding one thing to another to find the sum, 28which my mind has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. 29See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.

Obey the King and Enjoy Yourself

8Who is like the wise man?
   And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
Wisdom makes one’s face shine,
   and the hardness of one’s countenance is changed.

2 Keep* the king’s command because of your sacred oath. 3Do not be terrified; go from his presence, do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does whatever he pleases. 4For the word of the king is powerful, and who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ 5Whoever obeys a command will meet no harm, and the wise mind will know the time and way. 6For every matter has its time and way, although the troubles of mortals lie heavy upon them. 7Indeed, they do not know what is to be, for who can tell them how it will be? 8No one has power over the wind* to restrain the wind,* or power over the day of death; there is no discharge from the battle, nor does wickedness deliver those who practise it. 9All this I observed, applying my mind to all that is done under the sun, while one person exercises authority over another to the other’s hurt.

God’s Ways Are Inscrutable

10 Then I saw the wicked buried; they used to go in and out of the holy place, and were praised in the city where they had done such things.* This also is vanity. 11Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the human heart is fully set to do evil. 12Though sinners do evil a hundred times and prolong their lives, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they stand in fear before him, 13but it will not be well with the wicked, neither will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not stand in fear before God.

14 There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked, and there are wicked people who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how one’s eyes see sleep neither day nor night, 17then I saw all the work of God, that no one can find out what is happening under the sun. However much they may toil in seeking, they will not find it out; even though those who are wise claim to know, they cannot find it out.

Take Life as It Comes

9All this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hate one does not know. Everything that confronts them 2is vanity,* since the same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil,* to the clean and the unclean, to those who sacrifice and those who do not sacrifice. As are the good, so are the sinners; those who swear are like those who shun an oath. 3This is an evil in all that happens under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone. Moreover, the hearts of all are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no more reward, and even the memory of them is lost. 6Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished; never again will they have any share in all that happens under the sun.

7 Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. 8Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. 9Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all. 12For no one can anticipate the time of disaster. Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.

Wisdom Superior to Folly

13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed important to me. 14There was a little city with few people in it. A great king came against it and besieged it, building great siege-works against it. 15Now there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16So I said, ‘Wisdom is better than might; yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded.’
17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
   than the shouting of a ruler among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
   but one bungler destroys much good.

Miscellaneous Observations

10Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odour;
   so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honour.
2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
   but the heart of a fool to the left.
3 Even when fools walk on the road, they lack sense,
   and show to everyone that they are fools.
4 If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post,
   for calmness will undo great offences.

5 There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as great an error as if it proceeded from the ruler: 6folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. 7I have seen slaves on horseback, and princes walking on foot like slaves.
8 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
   and whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a snake.
9 Whoever quarries stones will be hurt by them;
   and whoever splits logs will be endangered by them.
10 If the iron is blunt, and one does not whet the edge,
   then more strength must be exerted;
   but wisdom helps one to succeed.
11 If the snake bites before it is charmed,
   there is no advantage in a charmer.


12 Words spoken by the wise bring them favour,
   but the lips of fools consume them.
13 The words of their mouths begin in foolishness,
   and their talk ends in wicked madness;
14 yet fools talk on and on.
   No one knows what is to happen,
   and who can tell anyone what the future holds?
15 The toil of fools wears them out,
   for they do not even know the way to town.


16 Alas for you, O land, when your king is a servant,*
   and your princes feast in the morning!
17 Happy are you, O land, when your king is a nobleman,
   and your princes feast at the proper time—
   for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
   and through indolence the house leaks.
19 Feasts are made for laughter;
   wine gladdens life,
   and money meets every need.
20 Do not curse the king, even in your thoughts,
   or curse the rich, even in your bedroom;
for a bird of the air may carry your voice,
   or some winged creature tell the matter.

The Value of Diligence

11Send out your bread upon the waters,
   for after many days you will get it back.
2 Divide your means seven ways, or even eight,
   for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth.
3 When clouds are full,
   they empty rain on the earth;
whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,
   in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
4 Whoever observes the wind will not sow;
   and whoever regards the clouds will not reap.

5 Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.

6 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Youth and Old Age

7 Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.

8 Even those who live for many years should rejoice in them all; yet let them remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.

9 Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgement.

10 Banish anxiety from your mind, and put away pain from your body; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

12Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’; 2before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with* the rain; 3on the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly; 4when the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; 5when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along* and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets; 6before the silver cord is snapped,* and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, 7and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath* returns to God who gave it. 8Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher;* all is vanity.

Epilogue

9 Besides being wise, the Teacher* also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs. 10The Teacher* sought to find pleasing words, and he wrote words of truth plainly.

11 The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings that are given by one shepherd.* 12Of anything beyond these, my child, beware. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. 14For God will bring every deed into judgement, including* every secret thing, whether good or evil.

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20 March 2019

From the oremus Bible Browser https://bible.oremus.org v2.2.11 20 March 2019.