Ecclesiastes 5-8New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Your Attitude Toward God
5 [a]Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2 [b]Do not be hasty [c]in word or [d]impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. 3 For the dream comes through much [e]effort and the voice of a fool through many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your [f]speech cause [g]you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in many dreams and in many words there is [h]emptiness. Rather, [i]fear God.
8 If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the [j]sight; for one [k]official watches over another [l]official, and there are higher [m]officials over them. 9 After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land.
The Folly of Riches
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is [n]vanity. 11 When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to [o]look on? 12 The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the [p]full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.
13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being [q]hoarded by their owner to his hurt. 14 When those riches were lost through [r]a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing [s]to support him. 15 As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil—exactly as a man [t]is born, thus will he [u]die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind? 17 Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger.
18 Here is what I have seen to be good and [v]fitting: to eat, to drink and [w]enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few [x]years of his life which God has given him; for this is his [y]reward. 19 Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his [z]reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not often [aa]consider the [ab]years of his life, because God keeps [ac]him occupied with the gladness of his heart.
The Futility of Life
6 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent [ad]among men— 2 a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner [ae]enjoys them. This is [af]vanity and a severe affliction. 3 If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many [ag]they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, “Better the miscarriage than he, 4 for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. 5 It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; [ah]it is better off than he. 6 Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not [ai]enjoy good things—do not all go to one place?”
7 All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the [aj]appetite is not [ak]satisfied. 8 For what advantage does the wise man have over the fool? What advantage does the poor man have, knowing how to walk before the living? 9 What the eyes see is better than what the soul [al]desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.
10 Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with him who is stronger than he is. 11 For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a man? 12 For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few [am]years of his futile life? He will [an]spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?
Wisdom and Folly Contrasted
7 A good name is better than a good ointment,
15 I have seen everything during my [ay]lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. 16 Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? 17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp one thing and also not [az]let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with [ba]both of them.
19 Wisdom strengthens a wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. 21 Also, do not [bb]take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. 22 For [bc]you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others.
23 I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 What has been is remote and exceedingly [bd]mysterious. Who can discover it? 25 I [be]directed my [bf]mind to know, to investigate and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness. 26 And I discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.
27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “adding one thing to another to find an explanation, 28 which [bg]I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. 29 Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”
2 I say, “Keep the [bj]command of the king because of the oath [bk]before God. 3 Do not be in a hurry [bl]to leave him. Do not join in an evil matter, for he will do whatever he pleases.” 4 Since the word of the king is authoritative, who will say to him, “What are you doing?”
5 He who keeps a royal command experiences no [bm]trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure. 6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him. 7 If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen? 8 No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver [bn]those who practice it. 9 All this I have seen and applied my [bo]mind to every deed that has been done under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his hurt.
10 So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out from the holy place, and they are soon forgotten in the city where they did thus. This too is futility. 11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. 12 Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear [bp]Him openly. 13 But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.
14 There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it [bq]happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it [br]happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility. 15 So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his [bs]toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.
16 When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should [bt]never sleep day or night), 17 and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.
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