Wisdom and Folly Contrasted
1A good name is better than a good ointment,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because [a]that is the end of every man,
And the living [b]takes it to [c]heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
4 The [d]mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the [e]mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man
Than for one to listen to the song of fools.
6 For as the [f]crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.
7 For oppression makes a wise man mad,
And a bribe [g]corrupts the heart.
8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.
9 Do not be [h]eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger resides in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.
11 Wisdom along with an inheritance is good
And an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For wisdom is [i]protection just as money is [j]protection,
But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors.
13 Consider the work of God,
For who is able to straighten what He has bent?
14 In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.
15 I have seen everything during my [k]lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. 16 Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? 17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp one thing and also not [l]let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with [m]both of them.
19 Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. 21 Also, do not [n]take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. 22 For [o]you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.
23 I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 What has been is remote and exceedingly [p]mysterious. Who can discover it? 25 I [q]directed my [r]mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness. 26 And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.
27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, 28 which [s]I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. 29 Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”