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Ecclesiastes 7; Ecclesiastes 8; Ecclesiastes 9; Ecclesiastes 10; Ecclesiastes 11; Ecclesiastes 12 (New International Version)

Wisdom

1 A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. 2 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. 5 It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke than to listen to the song of fools. 6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless. 7 Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. 9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. 10 Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions. 11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. 12 Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor. 13 Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? 14 When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future. 15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness. 16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise-- why destroy yourself ? 17 Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool-- why die before your time? 18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all [extremes]. 19 Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city. 20 There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. 21 Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you-- 22 for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. 23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said, "I am determined to be wise"-- but this was beyond me. 24 Whatever wisdom may be, it is far off and most profound-- who can discover it? 25 So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly. 26 I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare. 27 "Look," says the Teacher, "this is what I have discovered: "Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things-- 28 while I was still searching but not finding-- I found one [upright] man among a thousand, but not one [upright] woman among them all. 29 This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes." 1 Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance.

Obey the King

2 Obey the king's command, I say, because you took an oath before God. 3 Do not be in a hurry to leave the king's presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. 4 Since a king's word is supreme, who can say to him, "What are you doing?" 5 Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. 6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him. 7 Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come? 8 No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it. 9 All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt. 10 Then too, I saw the wicked buried--those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless. 11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong. 12 Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God. 13 Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow. 14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. 15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun. 16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man's labor on earth--his eyes not seeing sleep day or night-- 17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.

A Common Destiny for All

1 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God's hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. 2 All share a common destiny--the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. 3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope--even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun. 7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun--all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. 11 I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siegeworks against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, "Wisdom is better than strength." But the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded. 17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. 1 As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. 2 The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left. 3 Even as he walks along the road, the fool lacks sense and shows everyone how stupid he is. 4 If a ruler's anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest. 5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: 6 Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones. 7 I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves. 8 Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. 9 Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. 10 If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success. 11 If a snake bites before it is charmed, there is no profit for the charmer. 12 Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. 13 At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness-- 14 and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming-- who can tell him what will happen after him? 15 A fool's work wearies him; he does not know the way to town. 16 Woe to you, O land whose king was a servant and whose princes feast in the morning. 17 Blessed are you, O land whose king is of noble birth and whose princes eat at a proper time-- for strength and not for drunkenness. 18 If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks. 19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry, but money is the answer for everything. 20 Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.

Bread Upon the Waters

1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. 2 Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. 3 If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie. 4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. 5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. 6 Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Remember Your Creator While Young

7 Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun. 8 However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless. 9 Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment. 10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless. 1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"-- 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; 3 when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; 4 when the doors to the street are closed and the sound of grinding fades; when men rise up at the sound of birds, but all their songs grow faint; 5 when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; when the almond tree blossoms and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred. Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets. 6 Remember him--before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, 7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!"

The Conclusion of the Matter

9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but also he imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails--given by one Shepherd. 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. 13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
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