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Ecclesiastes 5:1–7:29

Fear God

1 nGuard your steps when you go to othe house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to poffer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore qlet your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with rmany words.

When syou vow a vow to God, tdo not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. uPay what you vow. vIt is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you3 into sin, and do not say before wthe messenger4 that it was xa mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity;5 but6 yGod is the one you must fear.

The Vanity of Wealth and Honor

zIf you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, ado not be amazed at the matter, bfor the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.7

10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

13 cThere is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 dAs he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what egain is there to him who ftoils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he geats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

18 Behold, what I have seen to be hgood and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment8 in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his ilot. 19 Everyone also to whom jGod has given kwealth and possessions land power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is mthe gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

nThere is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man oto whom pGod gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he qlacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God rdoes not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity;1 it is a grievous evil. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that sthe days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s tgood things, and he also has no uburial, I say that va stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not wseen the sun or known anything, yet it finds xrest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy2 no good—do not all go to the one place?

yAll the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.3 For what advantage has the wise man zover the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? Better ais the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is bvanity and a striving after wind.

10 Whatever has come to be has calready been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to ddispute with one stronger than he. 11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his evain4 life, which he passes like fa shadow? For who can tell man what will be gafter him under the sun?

The Contrast of Wisdom and Folly

hA good name is better than precious ointment,

and ithe day of death than the day of birth.

It is better to go to the house of mourning

than to go to the house of feasting,

for this is the end of all mankind,

and the living will jlay it to heart.

Sorrow is better than laughter,

kfor by sadness of face the heart is made glad.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,

but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

It is lbetter for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise

than to hear the song of fools.

mFor as the crackling of nthorns under a pot,

so is the laughter of the fools;

this also is vanity.1

Surely ooppression drives the wise into madness,

and pa bribe corrupts the heart.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,

and qthe patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

rBe not quick in your spirit to become angry,

sfor anger lodges in the heart2 of fools.

10  Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”

For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

11  Wisdom is good with an inheritance,

an advantage to those who tsee the sun.

12  For the protection of wisdom is like uthe protection of money,

and the advantage of knowledge is that vwisdom preserves the life of him who has it.

13  Consider wthe work of God:

xwho can make straight what he has made crooked?

14 yIn the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, zso that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

15 In my avain3 life I have seen everything. There is ba righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who cprolongs his life in his evildoing. 16 Be not overly righteous, and do not dmake yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. eWhy should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of fthis, and from gthat hwithhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.

19 iWisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

20 Surely jthere is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

21 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear kyour servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that lmany times you yourself have cursed others.

23 All this I have tested by wisdom. mI said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 That which has been is far off, and ndeep, very deep; owho can find it out?

25 pI turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. 26 And I find something more qbitter than death: rthe woman whose heart is ssnares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but tthe sinner is taken by her. 27 Behold, this is what I found, says uthe Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— 28 which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. vOne man among a thousand I found, but wa woman among all these I have not found. 29 See, this alone I found, that xGod made man upright, but ythey have sought out many schemes.

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