New International Version

Ecclesiastes 4:1-16

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness

1Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—

and they have no comforter;

power was on the side of their oppressors—

and they have no comforter.

2And I declared that the dead,

who had already died,

are happier than the living,

who are still alive.

3But better than both

is the one who has never been born,

who has not seen the evil

that is done under the sun.

4And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

5Fools fold their hands

and ruin themselves.

6Better one handful with tranquillity

than two handfuls with toil

and chasing after the wind.

7Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

8There was a man all alone;

he had neither son nor brother.

There was no end to his toil,

yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.

“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,

“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”

This too is meaningless—

a miserable business!

9Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their labor:

10If either of them falls down,

one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up.

11Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

12Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Advancement Is Meaningless

13Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning. 14The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. 15I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor. 16There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Chinese Contemporary Bible (Simplified)

传道书 4:1-16

1于是,我又观察日光之下的一切欺压之事。我看见受欺压的泪流满面,无人安慰。因为欺压者有权有势,所以无人安慰他们。 2我为那已死的人庆幸,因为他们比活着的人幸福。 3不过,比以上两种人更幸运的是那从未出生的人,他们从未见过日光之下各样的恶行。 4我又看见人的一切劳碌和成就原是出于争强好胜。这也是虚空,如同捕风。 5愚人游手好闲,最后只能饿死。 6拥有不多,心里安宁,胜过拥有很多,仍劳碌捕风。 7我又看见日光之下一件虚空的事: 8有一个人孤孤单单,没有儿子也没有兄弟,却终身劳碌。他虽然家道丰裕,仍不满足,从未想过“我不停地劳碌,放弃一切享受,究竟是为了谁?”这也是虚空,是一种悲哀。 9两个人总比一个人好,因为二人劳碌同得美好的成果。 10一人跌倒,总有同伴相扶。但孤身一人、跌倒了无人相扶的真悲惨! 11还有,二人同睡会暖和,一人独睡怎能暖和呢? 12遭遇攻击,一人独自不能抵挡,二人并肩就能对付。三股拧成的绳子不容易断。 13贫穷但有智慧的青年,胜过年老、愚昧、不再纳谏的君王。 14虽然这青年在本国出身贫寒,却能从囚犯成为君王。 15我看见所有日光之下的人都起来拥护这位代替老君王的青年。 16拥护他的人不计其数,以后的世代却对他不满。这也是虚空,如同捕风。