Ecclesiastes 7International Standard Version (ISV)
Lessons for Life
7 A good name exceeds the value of fine perfume, and the day of someone’s death exceeds the value of[a] the day of his birth. 2 It’s better to attend a funeral[b] than to attend a banquet,[c] for everyone dies eventually, and the living will take this to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, because the heart is made better through trouble. 4 For the wise person thinks carefully when in mourning, but fools focus their thoughts on pleasure. 5 It is better to listen to a wise person’s rebuke than to listen to the praise[d] of fools. 6 For as thorns burn to heat a pot, so also is the laughter of the fool— even this is pointless.
Avoiding the Evils of Life
7 Unjust gain makes the wise foolish, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 8 The conclusion of something is better than its beginning, and a patient attitude[e] is more valuable than a proud one.[f] 9 Never be in a hurry to become internally angry, since anger settles down in the lap of fools. 10 Never ask “Why does the past[g] seem so much better than now?”[h] because this question does not come from wisdom. 11 Wise use of possessions is good; it brings benefit to the living.[i] 12 Indeed, wisdom gives protection,[j] just like money does, but it’s better to know that wisdom gives life, to those who have mastered[k] it.
The Works of God
13 Consider the work of God:
Who is able to straighten what he has bent? 14 When times are good, be joyful; when times are bad, consider this: God made the one as well as the other, so people won’t seek anything outside of his best.
15 I have seen it all[l] during my pointless life:
both a righteous person who dies while he is righteous, and a wicked person who lives to an old age, while remaining wicked.[m]
16 Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise. Why be self-destructive? 17 Do not excel at wickedness, nor be a fool. Why die before your time? 18 It is good for you to grab hold of this and not let go, because whoever fears God will escape all of these extremes.[n] 19 Wisdom given as strength to a wise person is better than having ten powerful men in the city. 20 For there is not a single righteous man on earth who practices good and does not sin.
21 Don’t listen to everything that is spoken— you may hear your servant cursing you, 22 since you also know how often you have cursed others.
23 I used my wisdom to test all of this.
I said, “I want to be wise,” but it was beyond me. 24 Whatever it is, it’s far off and most profound. Who can attain it? 25 I committed myself to understand, to learn, to search for wisdom and explanations, and to understand both the evil that is foolishness and the stupidity that is delusion.
26 I discovered for myself a bitterness that surpasses that of death: the woman whose heart is full of[o] snares and nets, whose hands are chains of bondage. Whoever pleases God will escape from her, but the transgressor will be trapped by her.
27 “Look at this,” says the Teacher. “Linking one thing to another, I reached this conclusion:
28 Among the things I seek but have not found: one man among a thousand I did find, but I have not found one woman to be wise[p] among all these. 29 I have discovered only this: God made human beings for righteousness, but they seek many alternatives.”
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