Ecclesiastes 3:9-4:16 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
What God Has Given Us To Do
9 What do we gain by all of our hard work? 10 I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. 11 God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. 12 I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, 13 because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do. 14 Everything God has done will last forever; nothing he does can ever be changed. God has done all this, so that we will worship him.
15 Everything that happens
The Future Is Known Only to God
16 Everywhere on earth I saw violence and injustice instead of fairness and justice. 17 So I told myself that God has set a time and a place for everything. He will judge everyone, both the wicked and the good. 18 I know that God is testing us to show us that we are merely animals. 19 Like animals we breathe and die, and we are no better off than they are. It just doesn’t make sense. 20 All living creatures go to the same place. We are made from earth, and we return to the earth. 21 Who really knows if our spirits go up and the spirits of animals go down into the earth? 22 We were meant to enjoy our work, and that’s the best thing we can do. We can never know the future.
4 I looked again and saw people being mistreated everywhere on earth. They were crying, but no one was there to offer comfort, and those who mistreated them were powerful. 2 I said to myself, “The dead are better off than the living. 3 But those who have never been born are better off than anyone else, because they have never seen the terrible things that happen on this earth.”
4 Then I realized that we work and do wonderful things just because we are jealous of others. This makes no more sense than chasing the wind.[b]
5 Fools will fold their hands
7 Once again I saw that nothing on earth makes sense. 8 For example, some people don’t have friends or family. But they are never satisfied with what they own, and they never stop working to get more. They should ask themselves, “Why am I always working to have more? Who will get what I leave behind?” What a senseless and miserable life!
It Is Better To Have a Friend
9 You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. 10 If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble. 11 If you sleep alone, you won’t have anyone to keep you warm on a cold night. 12 Someone might be able to beat up one of you, but not both of you. As the saying goes, “A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break.”
13 You may be poor and young. But if you are wise, you are better off than a foolish old king who won’t listen to advice. 14 Even if you were not born into the royal family and have been a prisoner and poor, you can still be king. 15 I once saw everyone in the world follow a young leader who came to power after the king was gone. 16 His followers could not even be counted. But years from now, no one will praise him—this makes no more sense than chasing the wind. [d]
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