Ecclesiastes 8-9 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
8 Who is smart enough
Obey the King
2 If you promised God that you would be loyal to the king, I advise you to keep that promise. 3 Don’t quickly oppose the king or argue when he has already made up his mind. 4 The king’s word is law. No one can ask him, “Why are you doing this?” 5 If you obey the king, you will stay out of trouble. So be smart and learn what to do and when to do it. 6 Life is hard, but there is a time and a place for everything, 7 though no one can tell the future. 8 We cannot control the wind[a] or determine the day of our death. There is no escape in time of war, and no one can hide behind evil. 9 I noticed all this and thought seriously about what goes on in the world. Why does one person have the power to hurt another?
Who Can Understand the Ways of God?
10 I saw the wicked buried with honor, but God’s people had to leave the holy city and were forgotten.[b] None of this makes sense. 11 When we see criminals commit crime after crime without being punished, it makes us want to start a life of crime. 12 They commit hundreds of crimes and live to a ripe old age, in spite of the saying:
Everyone who lives right
14 There is something else that doesn’t make sense to me. Good citizens are treated as criminals, while criminals are honored as though they were good citizens. 15 So I think we should get as much out of life as we possibly can. There is nothing better than to enjoy our food and drink and to have a good time. Then we can make it through this troublesome life that God has given us here on earth.
16 Day and night I went without sleep, trying to understand what goes on in this world. 17 I saw everything God does, and I realized that no one can really understand what happens. We may be very wise, but no matter how much we try or how much we claim to know, we cannot understand it all.
One Day at a Time
9 I thought about these things. Then I understood that God has power over everyone, even those of us who are wise and live right. Anything can happen to any of us, and so we never know if life will be good or bad.[c] 2 But exactly[d] the same thing will finally happen to all of us, whether we live right and respect God or sin and don’t respect God. Yes, the same thing will happen if we offer sacrifices to God or if we don’t, if we keep our promises or break them.
3 It’s terribly unfair for the same thing to happen to each of us. We are mean and foolish while we live, and then we die. 4 As long as we are alive, we still have hope, just as a live dog is better off than a dead lion. 5 We know that we will die, but the dead don’t know a thing. Nothing good will happen to them—they are gone and forgotten. 6 Their loves, their hates, and their jealous feelings have all disappeared with them. They will never again take part in anything that happens on this earth.
7 Be happy and enjoy eating and drinking! God decided long ago that this is what you should do. 8 Dress up, comb your hair, and look your best. 9 Life is short, and you love your wife, so enjoy being with her. This is what you are supposed to do as you struggle through life on this earth. 10 Work hard at whatever you do. You will soon go to the world of the dead, where no one works or thinks or reasons or knows anything.
11 Here is something else I have learned:
The fastest runners
12 None of us know when we might fall victim to a sudden disaster and find ourselves like fish in a net or birds in a trap.
Better To Be Wise than Foolish
13 Once I saw what people really think of wisdom. 14 It happened when a powerful ruler surrounded and attacked a small city where only a few people lived. The enemy army was getting ready to break through the city walls. 15 But the city was saved by the wisdom of a poor person who was soon forgotten. 16 So I decided that wisdom is better than strength. Yet if you are poor, no one pays any attention to you, no matter how smart you are.
17 Words of wisdom spoken softly
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