Ecclesiastes 9:13-18, Ecclesiastes 10, Ecclesiastes 11, Ecclesiastes 12 NIRV
Being Wise Is Better Than Being Foolish
Here’s something else I saw on this earth. I saw an example of wisdom that touched me deeply. There was once a small city. Only a few people lived there. A powerful king attacked it. He brought in war machines all around it. A certain man lived in that city. He was poor but wise. He used his wisdom to save the city. But no one remembered that poor man. So I said, “It’s better to be wise than to be powerful.” But people look down on the poor man’s wisdom. No one pays any attention to what he says.
People should listen to the quiet words
of those who are wise.
That’s better than paying attention to the shouts
of a ruler of foolish people.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war.
But one sinner destroys a lot of good.
Dead flies give perfume a bad smell.
And a little foolishness can make a lot of wisdom useless.
The hearts of wise people lead them on the right path.
But the hearts of foolish people take them down the wrong path.
Foolish people don’t have any sense at all.
They show everyone they are foolish.
They do it even when they are walking along the road.
Suppose a ruler gets very angry with you.
If he does, don’t quit your job in the palace.
Being calm can overcome what you have done against him.
Here’s something evil I’ve seen on this earth.
And it’s the kind of mistake that rulers make.
Foolish people are given many important jobs.
Rich people are given unimportant ones.
I’ve seen slaves on horseback.
I’ve also seen princes who were forced to walk as if they were slaves.
Anyone who digs a pit might fall into it.
Anyone who breaks through a wall might be bitten by a snake.
Anyone who removes stones from rock pits might get hurt.
Anyone who cuts logs might get wounded.
Suppose the blade of an ax is dull.
And its edge hasn’t been sharpened.
Then more effort is needed to use it.
But skill will bring success.
Suppose a snake bites before it is charmed.
Then the snake charmer receives no payment.
Wise people say gracious things.
But foolish people are destroyed by what their own lips speak.
At first what they say is foolish.
In the end their words are very evil.
They talk too much.
No one knows what lies ahead.
Who can tell someone else what will happen after they are gone?
The work foolish people do makes them tired.
They don’t even know the way to town.
How terrible it is for a land whose king used to be a servant!
How terrible if its princes get drunk in the morning!
How blessed is the land whose king was born into the royal family!
How blessed if its princes eat and drink at the proper time!
How blessed if they eat and drink to become strong and not to get drunk!
When a person won’t work, the roof falls down.
Because of hands that aren’t busy, the house leaks.
People laugh at a dinner party.
And wine makes life happy.
People think money can buy everything.
Don’t say bad things about the king.
Don’t even think about those things.
Don’t curse rich people.
Don’t even curse them in your bedroom.
A bird might fly away and carry your words.
It might report what you said.
Do Many Things to Succeed
Sell your grain in the market overseas.
After a while you might earn something from it.
Try to succeed by doing many things.
After all, you don’t know what great trouble might come on the land.
Clouds that are full of water
pour rain down on the earth.
A tree might fall to the south or the north.
It will stay in the place where it falls.
Anyone who keeps on watching the wind won’t plant seeds.
Anyone who keeps looking at the clouds won’t gather crops.
You don’t know the path the wind takes.
You don’t know how a baby is made inside its mother.
So you can’t understand how God works either.
He made everything.
In the morning plant your seeds.
In the evening keep your hands busy.
You don’t know what will succeed.
It may be one or the other.
Or both might do equally well.
Remember Your Creator While You Are Young
Light is sweet.
People enjoy being out in the sun.
No matter how many years anyone might live,
let them enjoy all of them.
But let them remember the dark days.
There will be many of those.
Nothing that’s going to happen will have any meaning.
You young people, be happy while you are still young.
Let your heart be joyful while you are still strong.
Do what your heart tells you to do.
Go after what your eyes look at.
But I want you to know
that God will judge you for everything you do.
So drive worry out of your heart.
Get rid of all your troubles.
Being young and strong doesn’t have any meaning.
Remember your Creator.
Remember him while you are still young.
Think about him before your times of trouble come.
The years will come when you will say,
“I don’t find any pleasure in them.”
That’s when the sunlight will become dark.
The moon and the stars will also grow dark.
And the clouds will return after it rains.
Remember your Creator before those who guard the house tremble with old age.
That’s when strong men will be bent over.
The women who grind grain will stop because there are so few of them left.
Those who look through the windows won’t be able to see very well.
Remember your Creator before the front doors are closed.
That’s when the sound of grinding will fade away.
Old people will rise up when they hear birds singing.
But they will barely hear any of their songs.
Remember your Creator before you become afraid of places that are too high.
You will also be terrified because of danger in the streets.
Remember your Creator before the almond trees have buds on them.
That’s when grasshoppers will drag themselves along.
Old people will lose their desire.
That’s when people will go to their dark homes in the grave.
And those who mourn for the dead will walk around in the streets.
Remember your Creator before the silver cord is cut.
Remember him before the golden bowl is broken.
The wheel will be broken at the well.
The pitcher will be smashed at the spring.
Remember your Creator before you return to the dust you came from.
Remember him before your spirit goes back to God who gave it.
“Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Nothing has any meaning.”
Have Respect for God and Obey His Commandments
The Teacher was wise. He gave knowledge to people. He tried out many proverbs. He thought about them carefully. Then he wrote them down in order. He did his best to find just the right words. And what he wrote was honest and true.
The sayings of those who are wise move people to take action. Their collected sayings are like nails pounded in firm and deep. These sayings are given to us by one shepherd. My son, be careful not to pay attention to anything added to them.
Books will never stop being written. Too much studying makes people tired.
Everything has now been heard.
And here’s the final thing I want to say.
Have respect for God and obey his commandments.
This is what he expects of all human beings.
God will judge everything people do.
That includes everything they try to hide.
He’ll judge everything, whether it’s good or evil.