And I hated everything I'd accomplished and accumulated on this earth. I can't take it with me - no, I have to leave it to whoever comes after me.
Whether they're worthy or worthless - and who's to tell? - they'll take over the earthly results of my intense thinking and hard work. Smoke.
That's when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth.
What's the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that's what it is. A bad business from start to finish.
So what do you get from a life of hard labor?
Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night's rest. Nothing but smoke.
The best you can do with your life is have a good time and get by the best you can. The way I see it, that's it - divine fate.
Whether we feast or fast, it's up to God.
God may give wisdom and knowledge and joy to his favorites, but sinners are assigned a life of hard labor, and end up turning their wages over to God's favorites. Nothing but smoke - and spitting into the wind.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)