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Ecclesiastes 4 (Today's New International Version)

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Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness

1 Again I looked and saw all the oppression1 that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed-- and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors-- and they have no comforter.2 2 And I declared that the dead,3 who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive.4 3 But better than both is the one who has not yet been,5 who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.6 4 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person's envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.7 5 Fools fold their hands8 and ruin themselves. 6 Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil9 and chasing after the wind. 7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: 8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content10 with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless-- a miserable business! 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If they fall down, they can help each other up. But pity those who fall and have no one to help them up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Advancement Is Meaningless

13 Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning. 14 The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. 15 I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king's successor. 16 There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
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