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Ecclesiastes 8 (New International Reader's Version)

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1 Who is like a wise man? Who knows how to explain things? Wisdom makes a man's face bright. It softens the look on his face.

Obey the King

2 I'm telling you to obey the king's command. You took an oath to serve him. You made a promise to God. 3 Don't be in a hurry to quit your job in the palace. Don't stand up for something the king doesn't like. He'll do anything he wants to. 4 He has the final word. So who can ask him, "What are you doing?" 5 No one who obeys his command will be harmed. Those who are wise will know the proper time and way to approach him. 6 There's a proper time and way for people to do everything. That's true even though a man might be suffering greatly. 7 No one knows what lies ahead. So who can tell a person what's going to happen? 8 He can't stop the wind from blowing. And he doesn't have the power to decide when he will die. No one is let out of the army in times of war. And evil won't let go of those who practice it. 9 I understood all of those things. I used my mind to study everything that's done on earth. A man sometimes makes life hard for others. But he ends up hurting himself. 10 I also saw sinful people being buried. They used to come and go from the place of worship. And others praised them in the city where they worshiped. That doesn't have any meaning either. 11 Sometimes the sentence for a crime isn't carried out quickly. So people make plans to commit even more crimes. 12 An evil man may be guilty of a hundred crimes and still live a long time. But I know that things will go better with men who have great respect for God. 13 Sinful people don't respect God. So things won't go well with them. Like a shadow, they won't be around very long. 14 Here's something else on this earth that doesn't have any meaning. Sometimes godly men get what sinful people should receive. And sinful men get what godly people should receive. Here's what I'm telling you. That doesn't have any meaning either. 15 So I advise everyone to enjoy life. A man on this earth can't do anything better than eat and drink and be glad. Then he will enjoy his work. He'll be happy all the days of the life God has given him on earth. 16 I used my mind to understand what it really means to be wise. I wanted to observe the hard work man does on earth. He doesn't close his eyes and go to sleep day or night. 17 I saw everything God has done. No one can understand what happens on earth. Man might try very hard to figure it out. But he still can't discover what it all means. A wise man might claim he knows. But he can't really understand it either.
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