New International Reader's Version

Ecclesiastes 8

1Who is like a wise person?
    Who knows how to explain things?
A person’s wisdom makes their face bright.
    It softens the look on their face.

Obey the King

I’m telling you to obey the king’s command. You promised to serve him. You made a promise to God. Don’t be in a hurry to quit your job in the palace. Don’t stand up for something the king doesn’t like. He’ll do anything he wants to. The king has the final word. So who can ask him, “What are you doing?”

No one who obeys his command will be harmed.
    Those who are wise will know the proper time and way to approach him.
There’s a proper time and way for people to do everything.
    That’s true even though a person might be suffering greatly.

No one knows what lies ahead.
    So who can tell someone else what’s going to happen?
No one can stop the wind from blowing.
    And no one has the power to decide when they will die.
No one is let out of the army in times of war.
    And evil won’t let go of those who practice it.

I understood all these things. I used my mind to study everything that’s done on earth. A man sometimes makes life hard for others. But he ends up hurting himself. 10 I also saw sinful people being buried. They used to come and go from the place of worship. And others praised them in the city where they worshiped. That doesn’t have any meaning either.

11 Sometimes the sentence for a crime isn’t carried out quickly. So people make plans to commit even more crimes. 12 An evil person may be guilty of a hundred crimes. Yet they may still live a long time. But I know that things will go better with those who have great respect for God. 13 Sinful people don’t respect God. So things won’t go well with them. Like a shadow, they won’t be around very long.

14 Here’s something else on this earth that doesn’t have any meaning. Sometimes godly people get what sinful people should receive. And sinful people get what godly people should receive. Here’s what I’m telling you. That doesn’t have any meaning either. 15 So I advise everyone to enjoy life. A person on this earth can’t do anything better than eat and drink and be glad. Then they will enjoy their work. They’ll be happy all the days of the life God has given them on earth.

16 I used my mind to understand what it really means to be wise. I wanted to observe the hard work people do on earth. They don’t close their eyes and go to sleep day or night. 17 I saw everything God has done. No one can understand what happens on earth. People might try very hard to figure it out. But they still can’t discover what it all means. Wise people might claim they know. But they can’t really understand it either.