Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2; Ecclesiastes 3; Ecclesiastes 4

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Ecclesiastes 1

1 These are the words of the Teacher, a son of David, kingin Jerusalem.
2 The Teacher says, "Useless! Useless! Completely useless! Everything is useless."
3 What do people really gain from all the hard work they do here on earth?
4 People live, and people die, but the earth continues forever.
5 The sun rises, the sun sets, and then it hurries back to where it rises again.
6 The wind blows to the south; it blows to the north. It blows from one direction and then another. Then it turns around and repeats the same pattern, going nowhere.
7 All the rivers flow to the sea, but the sea never becomes full.
8 Everything is boring, so boring that you don't even want to talk about it. Words come again and again to our ears, but we never hear enough, nor can we ever really see all we want to see.
9 All things continue the way they have been since the beginning. What has happened will happen again; there is nothing new here on earth.
10 Someone might say, "Look, this is new," but really it has always been here. It was here before we were.
11 People don't remember what happened long ago, and in the future people will not remember what happens now. Even later, other people will not remember what was done before them.
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13 I decided to use my wisdom to learn about everything that happens on earth. I learned that God has given us terrible things to face.
14 I looked at everything done on earth and saw that it is all useless, like chasing the wind.
15 If something is crooked, you can't make it straight. If something is missing, you can't say it is there.
16 I said to myself, "I have become very wise and am now wiser than anyone who ruled Jerusalem before me. I know what wisdom and knowledge really are."
17 So I decided to find out about wisdom and knowledge and also about foolish thinking, but this turned out to be like chasing the wind.
18 With much wisdom comes much disappointment; the person who gains more knowledge also gains more sorrow.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 2

1 I said to myself, "I will try having fun. I will enjoy myself." But I found that this is also useless.
2 It is foolish to laugh all the time, and having fun doesn't accomplish anything.
3 I decided to cheer myself up with wine while my mind was still thinking wisely. I wanted to find a way to enjoy myself and see what was good for people to do during their few days of life.
4 Then I did great things: I built houses and planted vineyards for myself.
5 I made gardens and parks, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
6 I made pools of water for myself and used them to water my growing trees.
7 I bought male and female slaves, and slaves were also born in my house. I had large herds and flocks, more than anyone in Jerusalem had ever had before.
8 I also gathered silver and gold for myself, treasures from kings and other areas. I had male and female singers and all the women a man could ever want.
9 I became very famous, even greater than anyone who had lived in Jerusalem before me. My wisdom helped me in all this.
10 Anything I saw and wanted, I got for myself; I did not miss any pleasure I desired. I was pleased with everything I did, and this pleasure was the reward for all my hard work.
11 But then I looked at what I had done, and I thought about all the hard work. Suddenly I realized it was useless, like chasing the wind. There is nothing to gain from anything we do here on earth.
12 Then I began to think again about being wise, and also about being foolish and doing crazy things. But after all, what more can anyone do? He can't do more than what the other king has already done.
13 I saw that being wise is certainly better than being foolish, just as light is better than darkness.
14 Wise people see where they are going, but fools walk around in the dark. Yet I saw that both wise and foolish people end the same way.
15 I thought to myself, "What happens to a fool will happen to me, too, so what is the reward for being wise?" I said to myself, "Being wise is also useless."
16 The wise person and the fool will both die, and no one will remember either one for long. In the future, both will be forgotten.
17 So I hated life. It made me sad to think that everything here on earth is useless, like chasing the wind.
18 I hated all the things I had worked for here on earth, because I must leave them to someone who will live after me.
19 Someone else will control everything for which I worked so hard here on earth, and I don't know if he will be wise or foolish. This is also useless.
20 So I became sad about all the hard work I had done here on earth.
21 People can work hard using all their wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but they will die, and other people will get the things for which they worked. They did not do the work, but they will get everything. This is also unfair and useless.
22 What do people get for all their work and struggling here on earth?
23 All of their lives their work is full of pain and sorrow, and even at night their minds don't rest. This is also useless.
24 The best that people can do is eat, drink, and enjoy their work. I saw that even this comes from God,
25 because no one can eat or enjoy life without him.
26 If people please God, God will give them wisdom, knowledge, and joy. But sinners will get only the work of gathering and storing wealth that they will have to give to the ones who please God. So all their work is useless, like chasing the wind.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 3

1 There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.
2 There is a time to be born and a time to die. There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants.
3 There is a time to kill and a time to heal. There is a time to destroy and a time to build.
4 There is a time to cry and a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad and a time to dance.
5 There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them. There is a time to hug and a time not to hug.
6 There is a time to look for something and a time to stop looking for it. There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away.
7 There is a time to tear apart and a time to sew together. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.
8 There is a time to love and a time to hate. There is a time for war and a time for peace.
9 Do people really gain anything from their work?
10 I saw the hard work God has given people to do.
11 God has given them a desire to know the future. He does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing.
12 So I realize that the best thing for them is to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live.
13 God wants all people to eat and drink and be happy in their work, which are gifts from God.
14 I know that everything God does will continue forever. People cannot add anything to what God has done, and they cannot take anything away from it. God does it this way to make people respect him.
15 What happens now has happened in the past, and what will happen in the future has happened before. God makes the same things happen again and again.
16 I also saw this here on earth: Where there should have been justice, there was evil; where there should have been right, there was wrong.
17 I said to myself, God has planned a time for every thing and every action, so he will judge both good people and bad.
18 I decided that God leaves it the way it is to test people and to show them they are just like animals.
19 The same thing happens to animals and to people; they both have the same breath, so they both die. People are no better off than the animals, because everything is useless.
20 Both end up the same way; both came from dust and both will go back to dust.
21 Who can be sure that the human spirit goes up to God and that the spirit of an animal goes down into the ground?
22 So I saw that the best thing people can do is to enjoy their work, because that is all they have. No one can help another person see what will happen in the future.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 4

1 Again I saw all the people who were mistreated here on earth. I saw their tears and that they had no one to comfort them. Cruel people had all the power, and there was no one to comfort those they hurt.
2 I decided that the dead are better off than the living.
3 But those who have never been born are better off still; they have not seen the evil that is done here on earth.
4 I realized the reason people work hard and try to succeed: They are jealous of each other. This, too, is useless, like chasing the wind.
5 Some say it is foolish to fold your hands and do nothing, because you will starve to death.
6 Maybe so, but I say it is better to be content with what little you have. Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more, and that is like chasing the wind.
7 Again I saw something here on earth that was useless:
8 I saw a man who had no family, no son or brother. He always worked hard but was never satisfied with what he had. He never asked himself, "For whom am I working so hard? Why don't I let myself enjoy life?" This also is very sad and useless.
9 Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together.
10 If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help.
11 If two lie down together, they will be warm, but a person alone will not be warm.
12 An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break.
13 A poor but wise boy is better than a foolish but old king who doesn't listen to advice.
14 A boy became king. He had been born poor in the kingdom and had even gone to prison before becoming king.
15 I watched all the people who live on earth follow him and make him their king.
16 Many followed him at first, but later, they did not like him, either. So fame and power are useless, like chasing the wind.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.