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Ecclesiastes 2:1-25 NLT/NIV - Online Parallel Bible

 
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1 I said to myself, "Come now, let's give pleasure a try. Let's look for the 'good things' in life." But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 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 "It is silly to be laughing all the time," I said. "What good does it do to seek only pleasure?" 2 "Laughter," I said, "is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?"
3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. While still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I hoped to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. 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 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.
5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.
7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned great herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who lived in Jerusalem before me. 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 collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! 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 So I became greater than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. And with it all, I remained clear-eyed so that I could evaluate all these things. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
10 Anything I wanted, I took. I did not restrain myself from any joy. I even found great pleasure in hard work, an additional reward for all my labors. 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 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. 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 So I decided to compare wisdom and folly, and anyone else would come to the same conclusions I did. 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 Wisdom is of more value than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. 13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.
14 For the wise person sees, while the fool is blind. Yet I saw that wise and foolish people share the same fate. 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 Both of them die. Just as the fool will die, so will I. So of what value is all my wisdom? Then I said to myself, "This is all so meaningless!" 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 For the wise person and the fool both die, and in the days to come, both will be forgotten. 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 So now I hate life because everything done here under the sun is so irrational. Everything is meaningless, like chasing 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 I am disgusted that I must leave the fruits of my hard work to others. 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 And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? And yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work. How meaningless! 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 So I turned in despair from hard work. It was not the answer to my search for satisfaction in this life. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.
21 For though I do my work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, I must leave everything I gain to people who haven't worked to earn it. This is not only foolish but highly unfair. 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 people get for all their hard work? 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun?
23 Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night they cannot rest. It is all utterly meaningless. 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.
24 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God. 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 For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?