New International Reader's Version

Ecclesiastes 1

Everything Is Meaningless

1These are the words of the Teacher. He was the son of David. He was also the king in Jerusalem.

“Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Everything is completely meaningless!
    Nothing has any meaning.”

What do people get for all their work?
    Why do they work so hard on this earth?
People come and people go.
    But the earth remains forever.
The sun rises. Then it sets.
    And then it hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south.
    Then it turns to the north.
Around and around it goes.
    It always returns to where it started.
Every stream flows into the ocean.
    But the ocean never gets full.
The streams return
    to the place they came from.
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.
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 people of long ago.
    Even those who haven’t been born yet
won’t be remembered
    by those who will be born after them.

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I decided to study things carefully. 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 human beings! 14 I’ve seen what is done on this earth. All of it is meaningless. It’s like chasing the wind.

15 People can’t straighten things that are crooked.
    They can’t count things that don’t even exist.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I’ve now grown 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 it’s also like chasing the wind.

18 A lot of human wisdom leads to a lot of sorrow.
    More knowledge only brings more sadness.