Ecclesiastes 4-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Evils of Oppression
4 Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. 2 So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. 3 But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
4 I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is [a]vanity and striving after wind. 5 The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. 6 One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.
7 Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. 8 There was a certain man without a [b]dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if [c]either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not [d]another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they [e]keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if [f]one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
13 A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive [g]instruction. 14 For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who [h]replaces him. 16 There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.
Your Attitude Toward God
5 [i]Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. 2 [j]Do not be hasty [k]in word or [l]impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. 3 For the dream comes through much [m]effort and the voice of a fool through many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your [n]speech cause [o]you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in many dreams and in many words there is [p]emptiness. Rather, [q]fear God.
8 If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the [r]sight; for one [s]official watches over another [t]official, and there are higher [u]officials over them. 9 After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land.
The Folly of Riches
10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is [v]vanity. 11 When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to [w]look on? 12 The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the [x]full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.
13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being [y]hoarded by their owner to his hurt. 14 When those riches were lost through [z]a bad investment and he had fathered a son, then there was nothing [aa]to support him. 15 As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil—exactly as a man [ab]is born, thus will he [ac]die. So what is the advantage to him who toils for the wind? 17 Throughout his life he also eats in darkness with great vexation, sickness and anger.
18 Here is what I have seen to be good and [ad]fitting: to eat, to drink and [ae]enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few [af]years of his life which God has given him; for this is his [ag]reward. 19 Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his [ah]reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not often [ai]consider the [aj]years of his life, because God keeps [ak]him occupied with the gladness of his heart.
The Futility of Life
6 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent [al]among men— 2 a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner [am]enjoys them. This is [an]vanity and a severe affliction. 3 If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many [ao]they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, “Better the miscarriage than he, 4 for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. 5 It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; [ap]it is better off than he. 6 Even if the other man lives a thousand years twice and does not [aq]enjoy good things—do not all go to one place?”
7 All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the [ar]appetite is not [as]satisfied. 8 For what advantage does the wise man have over the fool? What advantage does the poor man have, knowing how to walk before the living? 9 What the eyes see is better than what the soul [at]desires. This too is futility and a striving after wind.
10 Whatever exists has already been named, and it is known what man is; for he cannot dispute with him who is stronger than he is. 11 For there are many words which increase futility. What then is the advantage to a man? 12 For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few [au]years of his futile life? He will [av]spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?
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