Ecclesiastes 4:1-5:7New International Version (NIV)
Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness
4 Again 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. 2 And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. 3 But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.
4 And 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.
5 Fools fold their hands and ruin themselves. 6 Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.
7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
8 There 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!
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Advancement Is Meaningless
13 Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning.14 The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom.15 I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor.16 There 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.
Fulfill Your Vow to God
5 [a]Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.
Ecclesiastes 5:1In Hebrew texts 5:1 is numbered 4:17, and 5:2-20 is numbered 5:1-19.
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