1Be careful what you say when you go to God's house. Go there to listen. Don't be like foolish people when you offer your sacrifice. They do what is wrong and don't even know it.2Don't be too quick to speak. Don't be in a hurry to say anything to God. He is in heaven. You are on earth. So use only a few words when you speak.3Dreams come to people when they worry a lot. When foolish people talk, they use too many words.4When you make a promise to God, don't wait too long to carry it out. He isn't pleased with foolish people. So do what you have promised.5It is better to make no promise at all than to make a promise and not keep it.6Don't let your mouth cause you to sin. Don't object to the temple messenger. Don't say, "My promise was a mistake." Why should God be angry with what you say? Why should he destroy what you have done?7Dreaming too much and talking too much are meaningless. So have respect for God.8Suppose you see poor people being mistreated somewhere. And what is being done to them isn't right or fair. Don't be surprised by that. One official is watched by a higher one. Others who are even higher are watching both of them.9All of them take what the land produces. And the king himself takes his share from the fields.10Anyone who loves money never has enough. Anyone who loves wealth is never satisfied with what he gets. That doesn't have any meaning either.11As more and more goods are made, more and more people use them up. So how can those goods benefit their owner? All he can do is look at them with longing.12The sleep of a worker is sweet. It doesn't matter whether he eats a little or a lot. But the wealth of a rich man keeps him awake at night.13I've seen something very evil on earth. It's when wealth is stored up and then brings harm to its owner.14It's also when wealth is lost because of an unwise business deal. Then there won't be anything left for the owner's son.15A man is born naked. He comes into the world with nothing. And he goes out of it with nothing. He doesn't get anything from his work that he can take with him.16Here's something else that is very evil. A man is born, and a man dies. And what does he get for his work? Nothing. It's like working for the wind.17All his life he eats in darkness. His life is full of trouble, suffering and anger.18I realized that it's good and proper for a man to eat and drink. It's good for him to be satisfied with his hard work on this earth. That's what he should do during the few days of life God has given him. That's what God made him for.19Sometimes God gives a man wealth and possessions. He makes it possible for him to enjoy them. He helps him accept the life he has given him. He helps him to be happy in his work. All of those things are gifts from God.20A man like that doesn't have to think about how his life is going. That's because God fills his heart with joy.
1I've seen another evil thing on this earth. And it's a heavy load on men.2God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor. He has everything his heart longs for. But God doesn't let him enjoy those things. Instead, strangers enjoy them. That doesn't have any meaning. It's a very evil thing.3A man might have a hundred children. He might live a long time. But suppose he can't enjoy his wealth. And suppose he isn't buried in the proper way. Then it doesn't matter how long he lives. I'm telling you that a baby that is born dead is better off than he is.4That kind of birth doesn't have any meaning. The baby dies in darkness and leaves this world. And in darkness it is forgotten.5It didn't even see the sun. It didn't know anything at all. But it has more rest than that man does.6And that's true even if he lives for 2,000 years but doesn't get to enjoy his wealth. All people die and go to the grave, don't they?7Man eats up everything he works to get. But he is never satisfied.8What advantage does a wise man have over someone who is foolish? What does a poor man gain by knowing how to act toward others?9Being satisfied with what you have is better than always wanting more. That doesn't have any meaning either. It's like chasing the wind.10God has already planned what now exists. He has already decided what man is. A man can't argue with the One who is stronger than he is.11The more words people use, the less meaning there is. And that doesn't help anyone.12Who knows what's good for a man? He lives for only a few meaningless days. He passes through life like a shadow. Who can tell him what will happen on earth after he is gone?
1A good name is better than fine perfume. People can learn more from sobbing when someone dies than from being happy when someone is born.2So it's better to go where people are sobbing than to go where people are having a good time. Everyone will die someday. Those who are still living should really think about that.3Sadness is good for the heart. That's why sorrow is better than laughter.4Those who are wise are found where there is sorrow. But foolish people are found where there is pleasure.5Pay attention to a wise man's warning. That's better than listening to the songs of those who are foolish.6A foolish person's laughter is like the crackling of thorns burning under a pot. That doesn't have any meaning either.7When a wise man takes wealth by force, he becomes foolish. It is sinful to take money from people who want special favors.8The end of a matter is better than its beginning. So it's better to be patient than proud.9Don't become angry quickly. Anger lives in the hearts of foolish people.10Don't say, "Why were things better in the good old days?" It isn't wise to ask that kind of question.11Wisdom is a good thing. It's like getting a share of the family wealth. It benefits those who live on this earth.12Wisdom provides safety, just as money provides safety. But here's the advantage of wisdom. It guards the lives of those who have it.13Think about what God has done. Who can make straight what he has made crooked?14When times are good, be happy. But when times are bad, here's something to think about. God has made bad times. He has also made good times. So a man can't find out anything about what's ahead for him.15In my meaningless life here's what I've seen. I've seen a godly man dying even though he is godly. And I've seen a sinful man living a long time even though he is sinful.16Don't claim to be better than you are. And don't claim to be wiser than you are. Why destroy yourself?17Don't be too sinful. And don't be foolish. Why die before your time comes?18It's good to hold on to both of those things. Don't let go of either one. A man who has respect for God will avoid going too far in either direction.19Wisdom makes one wise man more powerful than ten rulers in a city.20There isn't anyone on earth who does only what is right and never sins.21Don't pay attention to everything people say. If you do, you might hear your servant calling down a curse on you.22Many times you yourself have called down curses on others. Deep down inside, you know that's true.23I used wisdom to put all of those things to the test. I said, "I've made up my mind to be wise." But it was more than I could accomplish.24No matter what else wisdom may be, it's far away and very deep. Who can find it?25So I tried to understand wisdom more completely. I wanted to study it and figure it out. I tried to find out everything I could about it. I tried to understand why it's foolish to be evil. I wanted to see why choosing foolishness is so unwise.26A woman who hunts a man down is more painful than death. Her heart is like a trap. Her hands are like chains. A man who pleases God will try to get away from her. But she will trap a sinner.27"Look," says the Teacher. "Here's what I've discovered. "I added one thing to another to find out everything I could about wisdom.28I searched and searched but found very little. I did find one honest man among a thousand. But I didn't find one honest woman among a thousand.29Here's the only other thing I found. God made men honest. But they've made many evil plans."
1Who is like a wise man? Who knows how to explain things? Wisdom makes a man's face bright. It softens the look on his face.2I'm telling you to obey the king's command. You took an oath to serve him. You made a promise to God.3Don't be in a hurry to quit your job in the palace. Don't stand up for something the king doesn't like. He'll do anything he wants to.4He has the final word. So who can ask him, "What are you doing?"5No one who obeys his command will be harmed. Those who are wise will know the proper time and way to approach him.6There's a proper time and way for people to do everything. That's true even though a man might be suffering greatly.7No one knows what lies ahead. So who can tell a person what's going to happen?8He can't stop the wind from blowing. And he doesn't have the power to decide when he will die. No one is let out of the army in times of war. And evil won't let go of those who practice it.9I understood all of those things. I used my mind to study everything that's done on earth. A man sometimes makes life hard for others. But he ends up hurting himself.10I also saw sinful people being buried. They used to come and go from the place of worship. And others praised them in the city where they worshiped. That doesn't have any meaning either.11Sometimes the sentence for a crime isn't carried out quickly. So people make plans to commit even more crimes.12An evil man may be guilty of a hundred crimes and still live a long time. But I know that things will go better with men who have great respect for God.13Sinful people don't respect God. So things won't go well with them. Like a shadow, they won't be around very long.14Here's something else on this earth that doesn't have any meaning. Sometimes godly men get what sinful people should receive. And sinful men get what godly people should receive. Here's what I'm telling you. That doesn't have any meaning either.15So I advise everyone to enjoy life. A man on this earth can't do anything better than eat and drink and be glad. Then he will enjoy his work. He'll be happy all the days of the life God has given him on earth.16I used my mind to understand what it really means to be wise. I wanted to observe the hard work man does on earth. He doesn't close his eyes and go to sleep day or night.17I saw everything God has done. No one can understand what happens on earth. Man might try very hard to figure it out. But he still can't discover what it all means. A wise man might claim he knows. But he can't really understand it either.