8 Teacher: How rare to find one who is truly wise,
one who knows how to interpret this or solve that!
Wisdom brightens the countenance of the face,
and softens hard lines etched in the face.
2 Here’s my advice: keep what comes from the king’s mouth; after all, this matter is really an oath from God. 3 Don’t be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence or throw your support behind a bad cause, because the king can do whatever he wishes. 4 Since the king has the power to enforce his word, who dares ask him, “What are you doing?” 5 Whoever does what the king commands will stay out of trouble, and the wise heart will figure out the proper time and proper way to proceed. 6 Yes, there is a time and a way to deal with every situation, even when a person’s troubles are on the rise. 7 For no one knows what is going to happen, so who can warn him before it does? 8 No one can master the wind and contain it—it blows as it will. No one has power over the day of death—it comes as it will. No soldier is discharged in the heat of battle, and certainly wickedness will not release those entangled in it. 9 I have witnessed all of this as I have focused my attention on all that is done under the sun: whenever one person oppresses another to lift himself up, it only hurts him in the end.
10 I have witnessed the wicked buried with honor because during their lifetimes they would go in and out of the temple, and soon their crimes were forgotten in the very city where they committed them. This, too, is fleeting.[a] 11 When the penalty for a crime is not carried out quickly, then people start scheming to commit their own crimes. 12 Although a wicked person commits a hundred sins and still lives a long life, I am confident it will go better for those who worship the one True God and stand in awe before Him, 13 and it will not go well for the wicked nor will their days grow long like evening shadows because they do not stand in awe of God.
14 Here is another example of the fleeting nature of our world: there are just people who get what the wicked deserve; there are wicked people who get what the just deserve. I say this, too, is fleeting. 15 And so I heartily recommended that you pursue joy, for the best a person can do under the sun is to enjoy life. Eat, drink, and be happy. If this is your attitude, joy will carry you through the toil every day that God gives you under the sun.
16 When I applied myself to the study of wisdom and reflected on the kinds of tasks that occupy people’s attention on earth, I noticed how little sleep they generally get, whether day or night. 17 I saw all the works and ways of God, and it became clear to me that no one is able to grasp fully this mystery called life. Try as we might, we cannot discover what has been done under the sun. Even if the wise claim to know, they really haven’t discovered it.
- 8:10 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.