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Ecclesiastes 3:16-4 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

16 And I saw something else under the sun:

in the place of judgment – wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice – wickedness was there.

17 I said to myself,

‘God will bring into judgment
    both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.’

18 I also said to myself, ‘As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: as one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[a]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?’

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

Oppression, toil, friendlessness

Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed –
    and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors –
    and they have no comforter.
And I declared that the dead,
    who had already died,
are happier than the living,
    who are still alive.
But better than both
    is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
    that is done under the sun.

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Fools fold their hands
    and ruin themselves.
Better one handful with tranquillity
    than two handfuls with toil
    and chasing after the wind.

Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

there was a man all alone;
    he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
    yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked,
    ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’
This too is meaningless –
    a miserable business!

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labour:
10 if either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Advancement is meaningless

13 Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed a warning. 14 The youth may have come from prison to the kingship, or he may have been born in poverty within his kingdom. 15 I saw that all who lived and walked under the sun followed the youth, the king’s successor. 16 There was no end to all the people who were before them. But those who came later were not pleased with the successor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 3:19 Or spirit
New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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