Ecclesiastes 5-6 Common English Bible (CEB)
Listen and speak carefully
5 Watch[a] your steps when you go to God’s house. It’s more acceptable to listen than to offer the fools’ sacrifice—they have no idea that they’re acting wrongly. 2 Don’t[b] be quick with your mouth or say anything hastily before God, because God is in heaven, but you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.
4 When you make a promise to God, fulfill it without delay because God has no pleasure in fools. Fulfill what you promise. 5 Better not to make a promise than to make a promise without fulfilling it. 6 Don’t let your mouth make a sinner of you, and don’t say to the messenger: “It was a mistake!” Otherwise, God may become angry at such talk and destroy what you have accomplished.
8 If you witness the poor being oppressed or the violation of what is just and right in some territory, don’t be surprised because a high official watches over another, and yet others stand over them. 9 But the land’s yield should be for everyone if the field is cultivated.[c] 10 The money lover isn’t satisfied with money; neither is the lover of wealth satisfied with income. This too is pointless. 11 When good things flow, so do those who consume them. But what do owners benefit from such goods, except to feast their eyes on them? 12 Sweet is the worker’s sleep, whether there’s a lot or little to eat; but the excess of the wealthy won’t let them sleep.
13 I have seen a sickening tragedy under the sun: people hoard their wealth to their own detriment. 14 Then that wealth is lost in a bad business venture so that when they have children, they are left with nothing. 15 Just as they came from their mother’s womb naked, naked they’ll return, ending up just like they started. All their hard work produces nothing—nothing they can take with them. 16 This too is a sickening tragedy: they must pass on just as they arrived. What then do they gain from working so hard for wind? 17 What’s more, they constantly eat in darkness, with much aggravation, grief, and anger.
18 This is the one good thing I’ve seen: it’s appropriate for people to eat, drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work under the sun during the brief lifetime that God gives them because that’s their lot in life. 19 Also, whenever God gives people wealth and riches and enables them to enjoy it, to accept their place in the world[d] and to find pleasure in their hard work—all this is God’s gift. 20 Indeed, people shouldn’t brood too much over the days of their lives because God gives an answer in their hearts’ joy.
6 I saw a tragedy under the sun, and it weighs heavily upon humanity. 2 God may give some people plenty of wealth, riches, and glory so that they lack nothing they desire. But God doesn’t enable them to enjoy it; instead, a stranger enjoys it. This is pointless and a sickening tragedy. 3 Some people may have one hundred children and live a long life. But no matter how long they live, if they aren’t content with life’s good things, I say that even a stillborn child with no grave is better off than they are.[e] 4 Because that child arrives pointlessly, then passes away in darkness. Darkness covers its name. 5 It hasn’t seen the sun or experienced anything. But it has more peace than those 6 who live a thousand years twice over but don’t enjoy life’s good things. Isn’t everyone heading to the same destination? 7 All the hard work of humans is for the mouth, but the appetite is never full. 8 What advantage do the wise have over the foolish? Or what do the poor gain by knowing how to conduct themselves before the living? 9 It’s better to enjoy what’s at hand than to have an insatiable appetite. This too is pointless, just wind chasing.
10 Whatever happens has already been designated, and human beings are fully known. They can’t contend with the one who is stronger than they are. 11 Because the more words increase, the more everything is pointless. What do people gain by it? 12 Because who knows what’s good for human beings during life, during their brief pointless life, which will pass away like a shadow? Who can say what the future holds for people under the sun?