God’s in Charge, Not You
5 Watch your step when you enter God’s house.
Enter to learn. That’s far better than mindlessly offering
Doing more harm than good.
2 Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think.
Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear.
God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better.
3 Overwork makes for restless sleep.
Overtalk shows you up as a fool.
4-5 When you tell God you’ll do something, do it—now.
God takes no pleasure in foolish drivel. Vow it, then do it.
Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up.
6 Don’t let your mouth make a total sinner of you.
When called to account, you won’t get by with
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it.”
Why risk provoking God to angry retaliation?
7 But against all illusion and fantasy and empty talk
There’s always this rock foundation: Fear God!
A Salary of Smoke
8-9 Don’t be too upset when you see the poor kicked around, and justice and right violated all over the place. Exploitation filters down from one petty official to another. There’s no end to it, and nothing can be done about it. But the good earth doesn’t cheat anyone—even a bad king is honestly served by a field.
10 The one who loves money is never satisfied with money,
Nor the one who loves wealth with big profits. More smoke.
11 The more loot you get, the more looters show up.
And what fun is that—to be robbed in broad daylight?
12 Hard and honest work earns a good night’s sleep,
Whether supper is beans or steak.
But a rich man’s belly gives him insomnia.
13-17 Here’s a piece of bad luck I’ve seen happen:
A man hoards far more wealth than is good for him
And then loses it all in a bad business deal.
He fathered a child but hasn’t a cent left to give him.
He arrived naked from the womb of his mother;
He’ll leave in the same condition—with nothing.
This is bad luck, for sure—naked he came, naked he went.
So what was the point of working for a salary of smoke?
All for a miserable life spent in the dark?
Make the Most of What God Gives
18-20 After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.
Your Attitude Toward God
5 Guard your steps and focus on what you are doing as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the [careless or irreverent] sacrifice of fools; for they are too ignorant to know they are doing evil.(A) 2 Do not be hasty with your mouth [speaking careless words or vows] or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter before God. For God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few. 3 For the dream comes through much effort, and the voice of the fool through many words.
4 When you make a vow or a pledge to God, do not put off paying it; for God takes no pleasure in fools [who thoughtlessly mock Him]. Pay what you vow.(B) 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.(C) 6 Do not allow your speech to cause you to sin, and do not say before the messenger (priest) of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry because of your voice (words) and destroy the work of your hands?(D) 7 For in a multitude of dreams and in a flood of words there is worthlessness. Rather [reverently] fear God [and worship Him with awe-filled respect, knowing who He is].
8 If you see the oppression of the poor and the denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight [of corruption]; for a higher official watches over another official, and there are higher ones over them [looking out for one another]. 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 gain. This too is vanity (emptiness). 11 When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what advantage is there to their owners except to see them with their eyes? 12 The sleep of a working man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach (greed) of the rich [who hungers for even more] will not let him sleep.
13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being kept and hoarded by their owner to his own misery. 14 For when those riches are lost in bad investments and he becomes the father of a son, then there is nothing in his hand [for the support of the child]. 15 As he came naked from his mother’s womb, so he will return as he came; and he will take away nothing from all his labor that he can carry in his hand.(E) 16 This also is a grievous evil—exactly as he was born, so he shall die. So what advantage has he who labors for the wind?(F) 17 All of his life he also eats in darkness [cheerlessly, without sweetness and light], with great frustration, sickness, and anger.
18 Behold, here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat and drink, and to find enjoyment in all the labor in which he labors under the sun during the few days of his life which God gives him—for this is his [allotted] reward.(G) 19 Also, every man to whom God has given riches and possessions, He has also given the power and ability to enjoy them and to receive [this as] his [allotted] portion and to rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God [to him]. 20 For he will not often consider the [troubled] days of his life, because God keeps him occupied and focused on the joy of his heart [and the tranquility of God indwells him].
New Living Translation
Approaching God with Care
5 [a]As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. 2 [b]Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.
3 Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool.
4 When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. 5 It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. 6 Don’t let your mouth make you sin. And don’t defend yourself by telling the Temple messenger that the promise you made was a mistake. That would make God angry, and he might wipe out everything you have achieved.
7 Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.
The Futility of Wealth
8 Don’t be surprised if you see a poor person being oppressed by the powerful and if justice is being miscarried throughout the land. For every official is under orders from higher up, and matters of justice get lost in red tape and bureaucracy. 9 Even the king milks the land for his own profit![c]
10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!
12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.
13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14 Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry.
18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.