New International Reader's Version

Ecclesiastes 7

Good Advice About How to Live

1A good name is better than fine perfume.
    People can learn more from mourning when someone dies
    than from being happy when someone is born.
So it’s better to go where people are mourning
    than to go where people are having a good time.
Everyone will die someday.
    Those who are still living
    should really think about that.
Not being able to figure things out is better than laughter.
    That’s because sorrow is good for the heart.
Those who are wise are found where there is sorrow.
    But foolish people are found where there is pleasure.
Pay attention to a wise person’s warning.
    That’s better than listening to the songs of those who are foolish.
A foolish person’s laughter
    is like the crackling of thorns burning under a pot.
    That doesn’t have any meaning either.

When a wise person takes wealth by force, they become foolish.
    It is sinful to take money from people who want special favors.

The end of a matter is better than its beginning.
    So it’s better to be patient than proud.
Don’t become angry quickly.
    Anger lives in the hearts of foolish people.

10 Don’t say, “Why were things better in the good old days?”
    It isn’t wise to ask that kind of question.

11 Wisdom is a good thing.
    It’s like getting a share of the family wealth.
    It benefits those who live on this earth.
12 Wisdom provides safety,
    just as money provides safety.
But here’s the advantage of wisdom.
    It guards those who have it.

13 Think about what God has done.

Who can make straight
    what he has made crooked?
14 When times are good, be happy.
    But when times are bad, here’s something to think about.
God has made bad times.
    He has also made good times.
So no one can find out anything
    about what’s ahead for them.

15 In my meaningless life here’s what I’ve seen.

I’ve seen godly people dying
    even though they are godly.
And I’ve seen sinful people living a long time
    even though they are sinful.
16 Don’t claim to be better than you are.
    And don’t claim to be wiser than you are.
    Why destroy yourself?
17 Don’t be too sinful.
    And don’t be foolish.
    Why die before your time comes?
18 It’s good to hold on to both of those things.
    Don’t let go of either one.
Whoever has respect for God will avoid
    going too far in either direction.

19 Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful
    than ten rulers in a city.

20 It is true that there isn’t anyone on earth
    who does only what is right and never sins.

21 Don’t pay attention to everything people say.
    If you do, you might hear your servant cursing you.
22 Many times you yourself have cursed others.
    Deep down inside, you know that’s true.

23 I used wisdom to test all these things. I said,

“I’ve made up my mind to be wise.”
    But it was more than I could accomplish.
24 Whatever exists is far away and very deep.
    Who can find it?
25 So I tried to understand wisdom more completely.
    I wanted to study it and figure it out.
    I tried to find out everything I could about it.
I tried to understand why it’s foolish to be evil.
    I wanted to see why choosing foolishness is so unwise.

26 A woman who hunts a man down
    is more painful than death.
Her heart is like a trap.
    Her hands are like chains.
A man who pleases God will try to get away from her.
    But she will trap a sinner.

27 “Look,” says the Teacher. “Here’s what I’ve discovered.

“I added one thing to another to find out
    everything I could about wisdom.
28 I searched and searched
    but found very little.
I did find one honest man among a thousand.
    But I didn’t find one honest woman among a thousand.
29 Here’s the only other thing I found.
    God created human beings as honest.
    But they’ve made many evil plans.”