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Ecclesiastes 10-12

10 Dead flies can make a whole bottle of perfume stink, and a little stupidity can cancel out the greatest wisdom.

It is natural for the wise to do the right thing and for fools to do the wrong thing. Their stupidity will be evident even to strangers they meet along the way; they let everyone know that they are fools.

If your ruler becomes angry with you, do not hand in your resignation; serious wrongs may be pardoned if you keep calm.[a]

Here is an injustice I have seen in the world—an injustice caused by rulers. Stupid people are given positions of authority while the rich are ignored. I have seen slaves on horseback while noblemen go on foot like slaves.

If you dig a pit, you fall in it; if you break through a wall, a snake bites you. If you work in a stone quarry, you get hurt by stones. If you split wood, you get hurt doing it. 10 If your ax is dull and you don't sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead. 11 Knowing how to charm a snake is of no use if you let the snake bite first. 12 What the wise say brings them honor, but fools are destroyed by their own words. 13 They start out with silly talk and end up with pure madness. 14 A fool talks on and on.

No one knows what is going to happen next, and no one can tell us what will happen after we die.

15 Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.

16 A country is in trouble when its king is a youth and its leaders feast all night long. 17 But a country is fortunate to have a king who makes his own decisions and leaders who eat at the proper time, who control themselves and don't get drunk.

18 When you are too lazy to repair your roof, it will leak, and the house will fall in.

19 Feasting makes you happy and wine cheers you up, but you can't have either without money.

20 Don't criticize the king, even silently, and don't criticize the rich, even in the privacy of your bedroom. A bird might carry the message and tell them what you said.

What a Wise Person Does

11 Invest your money in foreign trade, and one of these days you will make a profit. Put your investments in several places—many places even—because you never know what kind of bad luck you are going to have in this world.

No matter which direction a tree falls, it will lie where it fell. When the clouds are full, it rains. If you wait until the wind and the weather are just right, you will never plant anything and never harvest anything. God made everything, and you can no more understand what he does than you understand how new life begins in the womb of a pregnant woman. Do your planting in the morning and in the evening, too. You never know whether it will all grow well or whether one planting will do better than the other.

It is good to be able to enjoy the pleasant light of day. Be grateful for every year you live. No matter how long you live, remember that you will be dead much longer. There is nothing at all to look forward to.

Advice to Young People

Young people, enjoy your youth. Be happy while you are still young. Do what you want to do, and follow your heart's desire. But remember that God is going to judge you for whatever you do.

10 Don't let anything worry you or cause you pain. You aren't going to be young very long.

12 So remember your Creator[b] while you are still young, before those dismal days and years come when you will say, “I don't enjoy life.” That is when the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars will grow dim for you, and the rain clouds will never pass away. Then your arms, that have protected you, will tremble, and your legs, now strong, will grow weak. Your teeth will be too few to chew your food, and your eyes too dim to see clearly. Your ears will be deaf to the noise of the street. You will barely be able to hear the mill as it grinds or music as it plays, but even the song of a bird will wake you from sleep. You will be afraid of high places, and walking will be dangerous. Your hair will turn white; you will hardly be able to drag yourself along, and all desire will be gone.

We are going to our final resting place, and then there will be mourning in the streets. The silver chain will snap, and the golden lamp will fall and break; the rope at the well will break, and the water jar will be shattered. Our bodies will return to the dust of the earth, and the breath of life will go back to God, who gave it to us.

Useless, useless, said the Philosopher. It is all useless.

The Summing Up

But because the Philosopher was wise, he kept on teaching the people what he knew. He studied proverbs and honestly tested their truth. 10 The Philosopher tried to find comforting words, but the words he wrote were honest. 11 The sayings of the wise are like the sharp sticks that shepherds use to guide sheep, and collected proverbs are as lasting as firmly driven nails. They have been given by God, the one Shepherd of us all.

12 My child, there is something else to watch out for. There is no end to the writing of books, and too much study will wear you out.

13 After all this, there is only one thing to say: Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that we were created for. 14 God is going to judge everything we do, whether good or bad, even things done in secret.


  1. Ecclesiastes 10:4 keep calm; or submit to him.
  2. Ecclesiastes 12:1 The Hebrew expression for your Creator sounds like the Hebrew for your grave.
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2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Christian Giving

Our friends, we want you to know what God's grace has accomplished in the churches in Macedonia. They have been severely tested by the troubles they went through; but their joy was so great that they were extremely generous in their giving, even though they are very poor. I can assure you that they gave as much as they could, and even more than they could. Of their own free will they begged us and pleaded for the privilege of having a part in helping God's people in Judea. It was more than we could have hoped for! First they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God's will they gave themselves to us as well. So we urged Titus, who began this work, to continue it and help you complete this special service of love. You are so rich in all you have: in faith, speech, and knowledge, in your eagerness to help and in your love for us.[a] And so we want you to be generous also in this service of love.

I am not laying down any rules. But by showing how eager others are to help, I am trying to find out how real your own love is. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; rich as he was, he made himself poor for your sake, in order to make you rich by means of his poverty.

10 My opinion is that it is better for you to finish now what you began last year. You were the first, not only to act, but also to be willing to act. 11 On with it, then, and finish the job! Be as eager to finish it as you were to plan it, and do it with what you now have. 12 If you are eager to give, God will accept your gift on the basis of what you have to give, not on what you don't have.

13-14 I am not trying to relieve others by putting a burden on you; but since you have plenty at this time, it is only fair that you should help those who are in need. Then, when you are in need and they have plenty, they will help you. In this way both are treated equally. 15 As the scripture says, “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”


  1. 2 Corinthians 8:7 your love for us; some manuscripts have our love for you.
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Psalm 49

The Foolishness of Trusting in Riches[a]

49 Hear this, everyone!
Listen, all people everywhere,
    great and small alike,
    rich and poor together.
My thoughts will be clear;
    I will speak words of wisdom.
I will turn my attention to proverbs
    and explain their meaning as I play the harp.

I am not afraid in times of danger
    when I am surrounded by enemies,
by evil people who trust in their riches
    and boast of their great wealth.
We can never redeem ourselves;
    we cannot pay God the price for our lives,
    because the payment for a human life is too great.
What we could pay would never be enough
    to keep us from the grave,
    to let us live forever.

10 Anyone can see that even the wise die,
    as well as the foolish and stupid.
    They all leave their riches to their descendants.
11 Their graves[b] are their homes forever;
    there they stay for all time,
    though they once had lands of their own.
12 Our greatness cannot keep us from death;
    we will still die like the animals.

13 See what happens to those who trust in themselves,
    the fate of those[c] who are satisfied with their wealth—
14 they are doomed to die like sheep,
    and Death will be their shepherd.
The righteous will triumph over them,
    as their bodies quickly decay
    in the world of the dead far from their homes.[d]
15 But God will rescue me;
    he will save me from the power of death.

16 Don't be upset when someone becomes rich,
    when his wealth grows even greater;
17 he cannot take it with him when he dies;
    his wealth will not go with him to the grave.
18 Even if someone is satisfied with this life
    and is praised because he is successful,
19 he will join all his ancestors in death,
    where the darkness lasts forever.
20 Our greatness cannot keep us from death;
    we will still die like the animals.


  1. Psalm 49:1 HEBREW TITLE: A psalm by the clan of Korah.
  2. Psalm 49:11 Some ancient translations graves; Hebrew inner thoughts.
  3. Psalm 49:13 One ancient translation the fate of those; Hebrew after them.
  4. Psalm 49:14 in … homes.; Hebrew unclear.
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Proverbs 22:20-21

20 I have written down thirty sayings for you. They contain knowledge and good advice, 21 and will teach you what the truth really is. Then when you are sent to find it out, you will bring back the right answer.

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