Ecclesiastes 10:1-12Contemporary English Version (CEV)
10 A few dead flies in perfume make all of it stink, and a little foolishness outweighs a lot of wisdom. 2 Sensible thoughts lead you to do right; foolish thoughts lead you to do wrong. 3 Fools show their stupidity by the way they live; it’s easy to see they have no sense. 4 Don’t give up your job when your boss gets angry. If you stay calm, you’ll be forgiven.
5 Some things rulers do are terribly unfair: 6 They honor fools, but dishonor the rich; 7 they let slaves ride on horses, but force slave owners to walk.
8 If you dig a pit, you might fall in; if you break down a wall, a snake might bite you.[a] 9 You could even get hurt by chiseling a stone or chopping a log. 10 If you don’t sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use; if you are smart, you’ll know what to do.[b] 11 The power to charm a snake does you no good if it bites you anyway.
12 If you talk sensibly, you will have friends; if you talk foolishly, you will destroy yourself. 13 Fools begin with nonsense, and their stupid chatter ends with disaster. 14 They never tire of talking, but none of us really know what the future will bring. 15 Fools wear themselves out— they don’t know enough to find their way home.[c]
16 A country is in for trouble when its ruler is childish, and its leaders party all day long. 17 But a nation will prosper when its ruler is mature, and its leaders don’t party too much. 18 Some people are too lazy to fix a leaky roof— then the house falls in. 19 Eating and drinking make you feel happy, and bribes can buy everything you need. 20 Don’t even think about cursing the king; don’t curse the rich, not even in secret. A little bird might hear and tell everything.
It Pays To Work Hard
11 Be generous, and someday you will be rewarded.[d] 2 Share what you have with seven or eight others, because you never know when disaster may strike. 3 Rain clouds always bring rain; trees always stay wherever they fall. 4 If you worry about the weather and don’t plant seeds, you won’t harvest a crop.
5 No one can explain how a baby breathes before it is born.[e] So how can anyone explain what God does? After all, he created everything.
6 Plant your seeds early in the morning and keep working in the field until dark. Who knows? Your work might pay off, and your seeds might produce.
Youth and Old Age
7 Nothing on earth is more beautiful than the morning sun. 8 Even if you live to a ripe old age, you should try to enjoy each day, because darkness will come and will last a long time. Nothing makes sense.[f]
9 Be cheerful and enjoy life while you are young! Do what you want and find pleasure in what you see. But don’t forget that God will judge you for everything you do.
10 Rid yourself of all worry and pain, because the wonderful moments of youth quickly disappear.
12 Keep your Creator in mind while you are young! In years to come, you will be burdened down with troubles and say, “I don’t enjoy life anymore.”
10.8a snake might bite you: Walls of houses were often made of stones with mud to fill in the cracks between them. If some of the mud washed out, a snake could be living inside the wall.
10.10do: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
10.15home: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
11.1Be generous. . . rewarded: Or “Don’t be afraid to invest. Someday it will pay off.”
11.5how. . . born: Or “what makes the wind blow or how a baby grows inside its mother.”
11.8Nothing makes sense: Or “There’s nothing to look forward to!”
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