I thought about all of those things. I realized that those who are wise and do what is right are under God's control. What they do is also under his control. But a man doesn't know whether God will show favor to him.
Everyone will die someday. Death comes to godly and sinful people alike. It comes to good and bad people alike. It comes to "clean" and "unclean" people alike. Those who offer sacrifices and those who don't offer them also die. A good person dies, and so does a sinner. Those who take oaths die. So do those who are afraid to take them.
Here's what is so bad about everything that happens on this earth. Death catches up with all of us. Also, the hearts of people are full of evil. They live in foolish pleasure. After that, they join those who have already died.
Anyone who is living still has hope. Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
People who are still alive know they'll die. But those who have died don't know anything. They don't receive any more rewards. And they are soon forgotten.
Their love, hate and jealousy disappear. They will never share again in anything that happens on earth.
Go and enjoy your food. Be joyful as you drink your wine. Now is the time God favors what you do.
Always wear white clothes to show you are happy. Anoint your head with olive oil.
You love your wife. So enjoy life with her. Do it all the days of this meaningless life God has given you on earth. That's what he made you for. That's what you get for all of your hard work on earth.
No matter what you do, work at it with all your might. Remember, you are going to your grave. And there isn't any work or planning or knowledge or wisdom there.
Here's something else I've seen on this earth. Races aren't always won by those who run fast. Battles aren't always won by those who are strong. Wise people don't always have plenty of food. Clever people aren't always wealthy. Those who have learned a lot aren't always favored. God controls the timing of every event. He also controls how things turn out.
A man doesn't know when trouble will come to him. Fish are caught in nets. Birds are taken in traps. And people are trapped by hard times that come when they don't expect them.
Here's something else I saw on this earth. I saw an example of wisdom that touched me deeply.
There was once a small city. Only a few people lived there. A powerful king attacked it. He brought in war machines all around it.
A certain man lived in that city. He was poor but wise. He used his wisdom to save the city. But no one remembered that poor man.
So I said, "It's better to be wise than to be powerful." But people looked down on the poor man's wisdom. No one paid any attention to what he said.
People should listen to the quiet words of those who are wise. That's better than paying attention to the shouts of a ruler of foolish people.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war. But one sinner destroys a lot of good.