New International Version
Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness
4 Again I looked and saw all the oppression(A) 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.(B)
2 And I declared that the dead,(C)
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.(D)
3 But better than both
is the one who has never been born,(E)
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.(F)
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.(G)
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(J) 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.(K)
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.(L)
3 A dream(M) comes when there are many cares,
and many words mark the speech of a fool.(N)
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it.(O) He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow.(P) 5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.(Q) 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.(R)
Riches Are Meaningless
8 If you see the poor oppressed(S) in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
10 Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owners
except to feast their eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether they eat little or much,
but as for the rich, their abundance
permits them no sleep.(T)
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:(U)
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,
14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when they have children
there is nothing left for them to inherit.
15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb,
and as everyone comes, so they depart.(V)
They take nothing from their toil(W)
that they can carry in their hands.(X)
16 This too is a grievous evil:
As everyone comes, so they depart,
and what do they gain,
since they toil for the wind?(Y)
17 All their days they eat in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink(Z) and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor(AA) under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions,(AB) and the ability to enjoy them,(AC) to accept their lot(AD) and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.(AE) 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.(AF)
6 I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: 2 God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them,(AG) and strangers enjoy them instead. This is meaningless, a grievous evil.(AH)
3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn(AI) child is better off than he.(AJ) 4 It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded. 5 Though it never saw the sun or knew anything, it has more rest than does that man— 6 even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place?(AK)
7 Everyone’s toil is for their mouth,
yet their appetite is never satisfied.(AL)
8 What advantage have the wise over fools?(AM)
What do the poor gain
by knowing how to conduct themselves before others?
9 Better what the eye sees
than the roving of the appetite.
This too is meaningless,
a chasing after the wind.(AN)
10 Whatever exists has already been named,(AO)
and what humanity is has been known;
no one can contend
with someone who is stronger.
11 The more the words,
the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone?
7 A good name is better than fine perfume,(AR)
and the day of death better than the day of birth.(AS)
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death(AT) is the destiny(AU) of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
3 Frustration is better than laughter,(AV)
because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.(AW)
5 It is better to heed the rebuke(AX) of a wise person
than to listen to the song of fools.
6 Like the crackling of thorns(AY) under the pot,
so is the laughter(AZ) of fools.
This too is meaningless.
7 Extortion turns a wise person into a fool,
and a bribe(BA) corrupts the heart.
10 Do not say, “Why were the old days(BE) better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing(BF)
and benefits those who see the sun.(BG)
12 Wisdom is a shelter
as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
Wisdom preserves those who have it.
13 Consider what God has done:(BH)
Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?(BI)
14 When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.(BJ)
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.
15 In this meaningless life(BK) of mine I have seen both of these:
the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
and the wicked living long in their wickedness.(BL)
16 Do not be overrighteous,
neither be overwise—
why destroy yourself?
17 Do not be overwicked,
and do not be a fool—
why die before your time?(BM)
18 It is good to grasp the one
and not let go of the other.
Whoever fears God(BN) will avoid all extremes.[b]
21 Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you(BS) may hear your servant cursing you—
22 for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed others.
23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said,
“I am determined to be wise”(BT)—
but this was beyond me.
24 Whatever exists is far off and most profound—
who can discover it?(BU)
25 So I turned my mind to understand,
to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things(BV)
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness
and the madness of folly.(BW)
“Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—
28 while I was still searching
but not finding—
I found one upright man among a thousand,
but not one upright woman(CA) among them all.
29 This only have I found:
God created mankind upright,
but they have gone in search of many schemes.”