The Mystery of Time

There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:(A)
a time to give birth and a time to die;(B)
a time to plant and a time to uproot;[a]
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;(C)
a time to mourn and a time to dance;(D)
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;(E)
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;(F)
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;(G)
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.(H)

What does the worker gain from his struggles?(I) 10 I have seen the task that God has given the children of Adam to keep them occupied.(J) 11 He has made everything appropriate[b] in its time.(K) He has also put eternity in their hearts,[c] but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end.(L) 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the[d] good life. 13 It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts.(M) 14 I know that everything God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it.(N) God works so that people will be in awe of him.(O) 15 Whatever is, has already been,(P) and whatever will be, already is. However, God seeks justice for the persecuted.[e]

The Mystery of Injustice and Death

16 I also observed under the sun: there is wickedness at the place of judgment and there is wickedness at the place of righteousness.(Q) 17 I said to myself, “God will judge the righteous and the wicked,(R) since there is a time for every activity and every work.”(S) 18 I said to myself, “This happens so that God may test the children of Adam and they may see for themselves that they are like animals.”(T) 19 For the fate of the children of Adam and the fate of animals is the same.(U) As one dies, so dies the other; they all have the same breath. People have no advantage over animals since everything is futile. 20 All are going to the same place; all come from dust, and all return to dust.(V) 21 Who knows if the spirits of the children of Adam go upward and the spirits of animals go downward to the earth? 22 I have seen that there is nothing better than for a person to enjoy his activities(W) because that is his reward. For who can enable him to see what will happen after he dies?[f](X)

Again, I observed all the acts of oppression being done under the sun.(Y) Look at the tears of those who are oppressed; they have no one to comfort them. Power is with those who oppress them; they have no one to comfort them. So I commended the dead,(Z) who have already died, more than the living, who are still alive. But better than either of them is the one who has not yet existed,(AA) who has not seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

The Loneliness of Wealth

I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to one person’s jealousy of another.(AB) This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.[g](AC)

The fool folds his arms(AD)
and consumes his own flesh.(AE)
Better one handful with rest
than two handfuls with effort and a pursuit of the wind.(AF)

Again, I saw futility under the sun: There is a person without a companion,[h] without even a son or brother, and though there is no end to all his struggles, his eyes are still not content with riches.(AG) “Who am I struggling for,” he asks, “and depriving myself of good things?” This too is futile and a miserable task.

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm?(AH) 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

13 Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer pays attention to warnings.(AI) 14 For he came from prison to be king,(AJ) even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I saw all the living, who move about under the sun, follow[i] a second youth who succeeds him. 16 There is no limit to all the people who were before them, yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind.(AK)

Footnotes

  1. 3:2 Lit uproot what is planted
  2. 3:11 Or beautiful
  3. 3:11 Or has put a sense of past and future into their minds, or has placed ignorance in their hearts
  4. 3:12 Lit his
  5. 3:15 Lit God seeks what is pursued
  6. 3:22 Lit after him
  7. 4:4 Or a feeding on wind, or an affliction of spirit; also in vv. 6,16
  8. 4:8 Lit person, but there is not a second,
  9. 4:15 Lit with

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