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Who is wise? And who knows the meaning of anything?
    A person’s wisdom brightens the expression;
        it changes the hardness of someone’s face.

Watch out for power

Keep[a] the king’s command
    as you would keep a solemn pledge.
Don’t be dismayed; leave his presence.
    Don’t linger in a harmful situation
    because he can do whatever he wants!
Because the king’s word has authority,
    no one can say to him, “What are you doing?”

Whoever keeps a command will meet no harm, and the wise heart knows the right time and the right way because there’s a right time and right way for every matter. But human misfortunes are overwhelming because no one knows what will happen, and no one can say when something might happen. No one has control over the life-breath,[b] to retain it, and there’s no control over the day of death. There’s no release from war, and wickedness won’t deliver those who practice it.

I observed all of this as I paid attention to all that happens under the sun. Sometimes people exercise power over each other to their detriment. 10 Then I saw the wicked brought to their graves, with people processing from a holy place,[c] while those who had lived honestly were neglected in the city. This too is pointless.

11 The condemnation for wicked acts isn’t carried out quickly; that’s why people dare to do evil. 12 Wrongdoers may commit a hundred crimes but still live long lives. But I also know that it will go well for those who fear God, for those who are reverent before God. 13 But it will not go well for the wicked; they won’t live long at all because they aren’t reverent before God. 14 Here’s another thing that happens on earth that is pointless: the righteous get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked get what the righteous deserve. I say that this too is pointless.

Enjoy life

15 So I commend enjoyment because there’s nothing better for people to do under the sun but to eat, drink, and be glad. This is what will accompany them in their hard work, during the lifetime that God gives under the sun.

16 Then I set my mind to know wisdom and to observe the business that happens on earth, even going without sleep day and night 17 I observed all the work of God—that no one can grasp what happens under the sun. Those who strive to know can’t grasp it. Even the wise who are set on knowing are unable to grasp it.


  1. Ecclesiastes 8:2 Correction; Heb I (say?) keep
  2. Ecclesiastes 8:8 Or wind
  3. Ecclesiastes 8:10 Or temple

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