New International Reader's Version

Ecclesiastes 4

Suffering, Hard Work and No Friends

1I looked and saw how much people were suffering on this earth.

I saw the tears of those who are suffering.
    They don’t have anyone to comfort them.
Power is on the side of those who treat them badly.
    Those who are suffering don’t have anyone to comfort them.
Then I announced that those
    who have already died
are happier than those
    who are still alive.
But someone who hasn’t been born yet
    is better off than the dead or the living.
That’s because that person hasn’t seen the evil things
    that are done on earth.

I also saw that a person works hard and accomplishes a lot. But they do it only because they want what another person has. That doesn’t have any meaning either. It’s like chasing the wind.

Foolish people fold their hands and don’t work.
    And that destroys them.
One handful with peace and quiet
    is better than two handfuls with hard work.
    Working too hard is like chasing the wind.

Again I saw something on earth that didn’t mean anything.

A man lived all by himself.
    He didn’t have any sons or brothers.
His hard work never ended.
    But he wasn’t happy with what he had.
“Who am I working so hard for?” he asked.
    “Why don’t I get the things I enjoy?”
That doesn’t have any meaning either.
    In fact, it’s a very bad deal!

Two people are better than one.
    They can help each other in everything they do.
10 Suppose either of them falls down.
    Then the one can help the other one up.
But suppose a person falls down and doesn’t have anyone to help them up.
    Then feel sorry for that person!
11 Or suppose two people lie down together.
    Then they’ll keep warm.
    But how can one person keep warm alone?
12 One person could be overpowered.
    But two people can stand up for themselves.
    And a rope made out of three cords isn’t easily broken.

Getting Ahead Is Meaningless

13 A poor but wise young man is better off than an old but foolish king. That king doesn’t pay attention to a warning anymore. 14 The young man might have come from prison to become king. Or he might have been born poor within the kingdom but still became king. 15 I saw that everyone was following the young man who had become the new king. 16 At first, all the people served him when he became king. But those who came later weren’t pleased with the way he was ruling. That doesn’t have any meaning either. It’s like chasing the wind.