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Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7; Psalms 47:1-9; Proverbs 22:16 (Common English Bible)

Ecclesiastes 4-6

Death is better than oppression

When I next observed all the oppressions that take place under the sun, I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no one to comfort them. Their oppressors wield power—but they have no one to comfort them. So I declare that the dead, who have already died, are more fortunate than the living, who are still alive. But happier than both are those who have never existed, who haven’t witnessed the terrible things that happen under the sun.

Envy and loneliness

I also observed that people work hard and become good at what they do only out of mutual envy. This too is pointless, just wind chasing.

Fools fold their hands and eat their own flesh.
    But better is resting with one handful
        than working hard for two fistfuls and chasing after wind.

Next, I saw under the sun something else that was pointless: There are people who are utterly alone, with no companions, not even a child or a sibling. Yet they work hard without end, never satisfied with their wealth. So for whom am I working so hard and depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is pointless and a terrible obsession.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their hard work. 10 If either should fall, one can pick up the other. But how miserable are those who fall and don’t have a companion to help them up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can stay warm. But how can anyone stay warm alone? 12 Also, one can be overpowered, but two together can put up resistance. A three-ply cord doesn’t easily snap.

13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king, who no longer listens to advice. 14 He emerged from prison to become king, even though during his rule a poor child[a] is born. 15 I saw all who live and walk under the sun following the next youth who would rise to take his place. 16 There was no counting the number of people he ruled, but those who came later aren’t happy with him. This too is pointless and a chasing after wind.

Listen and speak carefully

Watch[b] 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. Don’t[c] 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.

Remember:
Dreams come with many cares,
    and the voice of fools with many words.

When you make a promise to God, fulfill it without delay because God has no pleasure in fools. Fulfill what you promise. Better not to make a promise than to make a promise without fulfilling it. 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.

Remember:
    When dreams multiply,
        so do pointless thoughts and excessive speech.
        Therefore, fear God.

Hoarding wealth

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. But the land’s yield should be for everyone if the field is cultivated.[d] 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[e] 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.

Controlled appetite

I saw a tragedy under the sun, and it weighs heavily upon humanity. 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. 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.[f] Because that child arrives pointlessly, then passes away in darkness. Darkness covers its name. It hasn’t seen the sun or experienced anything. But it has more peace than those who live a thousand years twice over but don’t enjoy life’s good things. Isn’t everyone heading to the same destination? All the hard work of humans is for the mouth, but the appetite is never full. What advantage do the wise have over the foolish? Or what do the poor gain by knowing how to conduct themselves before the living? 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?

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 4:14 Possibly the youth of 4:13; or He emerged from prison to become king, even though he was born poor in the kingdom.
  2. Ecclesiastes 5:1 4:17 in Heb
  3. Ecclesiastes 5:2 5:1 in Heb
  4. Ecclesiastes 5:9 Correction; Heb uncertain; or The land's advantage in everything is this: a king for a plowed field.
  5. Ecclesiastes 5:19 Or portion in life, as in 5:18
  6. Ecclesiastes 6:3 Correction; Heb puts the lack of burial site with those who do not enjoy life's good things.
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2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7

14 Don’t be tied up as equal partners with people who don’t believe. What does righteousness share with that which is outside the Law? What relationship does light have with darkness? 15 What harmony does Christ have with Satan?[a] What does a believer have in common with someone who doesn’t believe? 16 What agreement can there be between God’s temple and idols? Because we are the temple of the living God. Just as God said, I live with them, and I will move among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.[b] 17 Therefore, come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord. Don’t touch what is unclean. Then I will welcome you.[c] 18 I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.[d] My dear friends, since we have these promises, let’s cleanse ourselves from anything that contaminates our body or spirit so that we make our holiness complete in the fear of God.

Make room in your hearts for us. We didn’t do anything wrong to anyone. We didn’t ruin anyone. We didn’t take advantage of anyone. I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty. I’ve already said that you are in our hearts so that we die and live together with you. I have every confidence in you. I’m terribly proud of you. I’m filled with encouragement. I’m overwhelmed with happiness while in the middle of our problems.

Titus’ good report

Even after we arrived in Macedonia, we couldn’t rest physically. We were surrounded by problems. There was external conflict, and there were internal fears. However, God comforts people who are discouraged, and he comforted us by Titus’ arrival. We weren’t comforted only by his arrival but also by the comfort he had received from you. He told us about your desire to see me, how you were sorry, and about your concern for me, so that I was even happier.

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Psalm 47

Psalm 47

For the music leader. A psalm of the Korahites.

47 Clap your hands, all you people!
    Shout joyfully to God with a joyous shout!
Because the Lord Most High is awesome,
    he is the great king of the whole world.
He subdues the nations under us,
    subdues all people beneath our feet.
He chooses our inheritance for us:
    the heights of Jacob, which he loves. Selah

God has gone up with a joyous shout—
    the Lord with the blast of the ram’s horn.
Sing praises to God! Sing praises!
    Sing praises to our king! Sing praises
    because God is king of the whole world!
    Sing praises with a song of instruction![a]

God is king over the nations.
    God sits on his holy throne.
The leaders of all people are gathered
    with the people of Abraham’s God
    because the earth’s guardians belong to God;
        God is exalted beyond all.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 47:7 Or Sing praises with understanding or wisely (cf LXX, Vulg); Heb maskil; see the note at Ps 32.
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Proverbs 22:16

16 Oppressing the poor to get rich
    and giving to the wealthy lead only to poverty.

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Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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