2 I said to myself, “I will try having fun. I will enjoy myself.” But I found that this is also useless. 2 It is foolish to laugh all the time, and having fun doesn’t accomplish anything. 3 I decided to cheer myself up with wine while my mind was still thinking wisely. I wanted to find a way to enjoy myself and see what was good for people to do during their few days of life.
Does Hard Work Bring Happiness?
4 Then I did great things: I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made gardens and parks, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made pools of water for myself and used them to water my growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and slaves were also born in my house. I had large herds and flocks, more than anyone in Jerusalem had ever had before. 8 I also gathered silver and gold for myself, treasures from kings and other areas. I had male and female singers and all the women a man could ever want. 9 I became very famous, even greater than anyone who had lived in Jerusalem before me. My wisdom helped me in all this.
10 Anything I saw and wanted, I got for myself; I did not miss any pleasure I desired. I was pleased with everything I did, and this pleasure was the reward for all my hard work. 11 But then I looked at what I had done, and I thought about all the hard work. Suddenly I realized it was useless, like chasing the wind. There is nothing to gain from anything we do here on earth.
Maybe Wisdom Is the Answer
12 Then I began to think again about being wise, and also about being foolish and doing crazy things. But after all, what more can anyone do? He can’t do more than what the other king has already done. 13 I saw that being wise is certainly better than being foolish, just as light is better than darkness. 14 Wise people see where they are going, but fools walk around in the dark. Yet I saw that both wise and foolish people end the same way.
15 I thought to myself, “What happens to a fool will happen to me, too, so what is the reward for being wise?” I said to myself, “Being wise is also useless.” 16 The wise person and the fool will both die, and no one will remember either one for long. In the future, both will be forgotten.
Is There Real Happiness in Life?
17 So I hated life. It made me sad to think that everything here on earth is useless, like chasing the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had worked for here on earth, because I must leave them to someone who will live after me. 19 Someone else will control everything for which I worked so hard here on earth, and I don’t know if he will be wise or foolish. This is also useless. 20 So I became sad about all the hard work I had done here on earth. 21 People can work hard using all their wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but they will die, and other people will get the things for which they worked. They did not do the work, but they will get everything. This is also unfair and useless. 22 What do people get for all their work and struggling here on earth? 23 All of their lives their work is full of pain and sorrow, and even at night their minds don’t rest. This is also useless.
24 The best that people can do is eat, drink, and enjoy their work. I saw that even this comes from God, 25 because no one can eat or enjoy life without him. 26 If people please God, God will give them wisdom, knowledge, and joy. But sinners will get only the work of gathering and storing wealth that they will have to give to the ones who please God. So all their work is useless, like chasing the wind.
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