Ecclesiastes 1; Ecclesiastes 2; Ecclesiastes 3; Ecclesiastes 4

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Ecclesiastes 1

1 These are the words of the Teacher. He was the son of David. He was also king in Jerusalem.
2 "Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is completely meaningless! Nothing has any meaning."
3 What does a man get for all of his work? Why does he work so hard on this earth?
4 People come and people go. But the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises. Then it sets. And then it hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south. Then it turns to the north. Around and around it goes. It always returns to where it started.
7 Every stream flows into the ocean. But the ocean never gets full. The streams return to the place they came from.
8 All things are tiresome. They are more tiresome than anyone can say. But our eyes never see enough of anything. Our ears never hear enough.
9 Everything that has ever been will come back again. Everything that has ever been done will be done again. Nothing is new on earth.
10 There isn't anything about which someone can say, "Look! Here's something new." It was already here long ago. It was here before we were.
11 No one remembers the men of long ago. Even those who haven't been born yet won't be remembered by those who will be born after them.
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13 I spent all of my time studying. I used my wisdom to check everything out. I looked into everything that is done on earth. What a heavy load God has put on men!
14 I've seen what is done on this earth. It doesn't have any meaning. It's like chasing the wind.
15 People can't straighten things that are twisted. They can't count things that don't even exist.
16 I said to myself, "Look, my wisdom has really been growing. In fact, I'm now wiser than anyone who ruled over Jerusalem in the past. I have a lot of wisdom and knowledge."
17 Then I used my mind to understand what it really means to be wise. And I wanted to know what foolish pleasure is all about. But I found out that that's also like chasing the wind.
18 A lot of human wisdom leads to a lot of sorrow. More knowledge only brings more sadness.

Ecclesiastes 2

1 I said to myself, "Come on. I'll put pleasure to the test. I want to find out what is good." But that also proved to be meaningless.
2 "Laughter is foolish," I said. "And what can pleasure do for me?"
3 I tried cheering myself up by drinking wine. I even tried living in a foolish way. But wisdom was still guiding my mind. I wanted to see what was really important for men to do on earth during the few days of their lives.
4 So I started some large projects. I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards.
5 I made gardens and parks. I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
6 I made lakes to water groves of healthy trees.
7 I bought male and female slaves. And I had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem ever had before.
8 I stored up silver and gold for myself. I gathered up the treasures of kings and their kingdoms. I got some male and female singers. I also got many women for myself. Women delight the hearts of men.
9 I became far more important than anyone in Jerusalem had ever been before. And in spite of everything, I didn't lose my wisdom.
10 I gave myself everything my eyes wanted. There wasn't any pleasure that I refused to give myself. I took delight in everything I did. And that was what I got for all of my work.
11 But then I looked over everything my hands had done. I saw what I had worked so hard to get. And nothing had any meaning. It was like chasing the wind. Nothing was gained on this earth.
12 I decided to think about wisdom. I also thought about foolish pleasure. What more can a new king do? Can he do anything more than others have already done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness.
14 The eyes of a wise man see things clearly. A person who is foolish lives in darkness. But I finally realized that death catches up with both of them.
15 Then I thought, "What happens to a foolish person will catch up with me too. So what do I gain by being wise?" I said to myself, "That doesn't have any meaning either."
16 Like a foolish person, a wise man won't be remembered very long. In days to come, both of them will be forgotten. Like a person who is foolish, a wise man must die too!
17 So I hated life. That's because the work that is done on this earth made me sad. None of it has any meaning. It's like chasing the wind.
18 I hated everything I had worked for on earth. I'll have to leave all of it to someone who lives after me.
19 And who knows whether he will be wise or foolish? Either way, he'll take over everything on earth I've worked so hard for. That doesn't have any meaning either.
20 So I began to lose hope because of all of my hard work on this earth.
21 A man might use wisdom, knowledge and skill to do his work. But then he has to leave everything he owns to someone who hasn't worked for it. That doesn't have any meaning either. In fact, it isn't fair.
22 What does a man get for all of his hard work on earth? What does he get for all of his worries?
23 As long as he lives, his work is nothing but pain and sorrow. Even at night his mind can't rest. That doesn't have any meaning either.
24 A man can't do anything better than eat and drink and be satisfied with his work. I'm finally seeing that those things also come from the hand of God.
25 Without his help, who can eat or find pleasure?
26 God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness to a man who pleases him. But to a sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth. Then the sinner must hand it over to the one who pleases God. That doesn't have any meaning either. It's like chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 3

1 There is a time for everything. There's a time for everything that is done on earth.
2 There is a time to be born. And there's a time to die. There is a time to plant. And there's a time to pull up what is planted.
3 There is a time to kill. And there's a time to heal. There is a time to tear down. And there's a time to build up.
4 There is a time to cry. And there's a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad. And there's a time to dance.
5 There is a time to scatter stones. And there's a time to gather them. There is a time to hug. And there's a time not to hug.
6 There is a time to search. And there's a time to stop searching. There is a time to keep. And there's a time to throw away.
7 There is a time to tear. And there's a time to mend. There is a time to be silent. And there's a time to speak.
8 There is a time to love. And there's a time to hate. There is a time for war. And there's a time for peace.
9 What does the worker get for his hard work?
10 I've seen the heavy load God has put on men.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also given men a sense of what he's been doing down through the ages. But they can't completely figure out what he's done from the beginning to the end.
12 They should be happy and do good while they live. I know there's nothing better for them to do than that.
13 Everyone should eat and drink. People should be satisfied with all of their hard work. That is God's gift to them.
14 I know that everything God does will last forever. Nothing can be added to it. And nothing can be taken from it. God does that so men will have respect for him.
15 Everything that now exists has already been. And what is coming has existed before. God will judge those who treat others badly.
16 Here's something else I saw on earth. Where people should be treated right, they are treated wrong. Where people should be treated fairly, they are treated unfairly.
17 I said to myself, "God will judge godly and sinful people alike. He has a time for every act. He has a time for everything that is done."
18 I also thought, "God puts human beings to the test. Then they can see they are just like animals.
19 What happens to animals happens to people too. Death waits for people and animals alike. People die, just as animals do. All of them have the same breath. People don't have any advantage over animals. Nothing has any meaning.
20 "People and animals go to the same place. All of them come from dust. And all of them return to dust.
21 Who can know whether the spirit of a man goes up? Who can tell whether the spirit of an animal goes down into the earth?"
22 So man should enjoy his work. That's what God made him for. I saw that there's nothing better for him to do than that. After all, who can show him what will happen after he is gone?

Ecclesiastes 4

1 I looked and saw how much people were suffering on this earth. I saw the tears of those who are suffering. They don't have anyone to comfort them. Power is on the side of those who beat them down. Those who are suffering don't have anyone to comfort them.
2 Then I announced that those who have already died are happier than those who are still alive.
3 But someone who hasn't been born yet is better off than the dead or the living. That's because he hasn't seen the evil things that are done on earth.
4 I also saw that man works hard and accomplishes a lot. But he does it only because he wants what his neighbor has. That doesn't have any meaning either. It's like chasing the wind.
5 A foolish person folds his hands and doesn't work. And that destroys him.
6 One handful with peace and quiet is better than two handfuls with hard work. Working too hard is like chasing the wind.
7 Again I saw something on earth that didn't mean anything.
8 A man lived all by himself. He didn't have any sons or brothers. His hard work never ended. But he wasn't happy with what he had. "Who am I working so hard for?" he asked. "Why don't I get the things I enjoy?" That doesn't have any meaning either. In fact, it's a very bad deal!
9 Two people are better than one. They can help each other in everything they do.
10 Suppose someone falls down. Then his friend can help him up. But suppose the man who falls down doesn't have anyone to help him up. Then feel sorry for him!
11 Or suppose two people lie down together. Then they'll keep warm. But how can one person keep warm alone?
12 One person could be overpowered. But two people can stand up for themselves. And a rope made out of three cords isn't easily broken.
13 A poor but wise young man is better off than an old but foolish king. That king doesn't pay attention to a warning anymore.
14 The young man might have come from prison to become king. Or he might have been born poor within the kingdom but still became king.
15 I saw that everyone was following the young man who had become the new king.
16 At first, all of the people served him when he became king. But those who came later weren't pleased with the way he was ruling. That doesn't have any meaning either. It's like chasing the wind.