Ecclesiastes 2 MSG/NIV - Online Parallel Bible

 
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1 I said to myself, "Let's go for it - experiment with pleasure, have a good time!" But there was nothing to it, nothing but smoke. 1 I thought in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless.
2 What do I think of the fun-filled life? Insane! Inane! My verdict on the pursuit of happiness? Who needs it? 2 "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?"
3 With the help of a bottle of wine and all the wisdom I could muster, I tried my level best to penetrate the absurdity of life. I wanted to get a handle on anything useful we mortals might do during the years we spend on this earth. I Never Said No to Myself 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly--my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives.
4 Oh, I did great things: built houses, planted vineyards, 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.
5 designed gardens and parks and planted a variety of fruit trees in them, 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
6 made pools of water to irrigate the groves of trees. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.
7 I bought slaves, male and female, who had children, giving me even more slaves; then I acquired large herds and flocks, larger than any before me in Jerusalem. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.
8 I piled up silver and gold, loot from kings and kingdoms. I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song, and - most exquisite of all pleasures - voluptuous maidens for my bed. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well--the delights of the heart of man.
9 Oh, how I prospered! I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What's more, I kept a clear head through it all. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 Everything I wanted I took - I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task - my reward to myself for a hard day's work! 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.
11 Then I took a good look at everything I'd done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
12 And then I took a hard look at what's smart and what's stupid. What's left to do after you've been king? That's a hard act to follow. You just do what you can, and that's it. 12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom, and also madness and folly. What more can the king's successor do than what has already been done?
13 But I did see that it's better to be smart than stupid, just as light is better than darkness. 13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.
14 Even so, though the smart ones see where they're going and the stupid ones grope in the dark, they're all the same in the end. One fate for all - and that's it. 14 The wise man has eyes in his head, while the fool walks in the darkness; but I came to realize that the same fate overtakes them both.
15 When I realized that my fate's the same as the fool's, I had to ask myself, "So why bother being wise?" It's all smoke, nothing but smoke. 15 Then I thought in my heart, "The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?" I said in my heart, "This too is meaningless."
16 The smart and the stupid both disappear out of sight. In a day or two they're both forgotten. Yes, both the smart and the stupid die, and that's it. 16 For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die!
17 I hate life. As far as I can see, what happens on earth is a bad business. It's smoke - and spitting into the wind. 17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
18 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. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me.
19 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. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.
20 That's when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.
21 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. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.
22 So what do you get from a life of hard labor? 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?
23 Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night's rest. Nothing but smoke. 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.
24 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. 24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,
25 Whether we feast or fast, it's up to God. 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?
26 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. 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.