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Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18; 2 Corinthians 7:8-16; Psalms 48:1-14; Proverbs 22:17-19 (GOD’S WORD Translation)

Ecclesiastes 7-9

Proverbs about Life

A good name is better than expensive perfume, and the day you die is better than the day you’re born. It is better to go to a funeral than to a banquet because that is where everyone will end up. Everyone who is alive should take this to heart! Sorrow is better than laughter because, in spite of a sad face, the heart can be joyful. The minds of wise people think about funerals, but the minds of fools think about banquets.

It is better to listen to wise people who reprimand you than to fools who sing your praises. The laughter of a fool is like the crackling of thorns burning under a pot. Even this is pointless.

Oppression can turn a wise person into a fool, and a bribe can corrupt the mind.

The end of something is better than its beginning. It is better to be patient than arrogant.

Don’t be quick to get angry, because anger is typical of fools. 10 Don’t ask, “Why were things better in the old days than they are now?” It isn’t wisdom that leads you to ask this!

Wisdom Gives Life

11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance. It is an advantage to everyone who sees the sun. 12 Wisdom protects us just as money protects us, but the advantage of wisdom is that it gives life to those who have it.

13 Consider what God has done! Who can straighten what God has bent?

A Truth for Every Situation

14 When times are good, be happy. But when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one time as well as the other so that mortals cannot predict their future.

Mortals Don’t Get What They Deserve

15 I have seen it all in my pointless life:

Righteous people die in spite of being righteous.
Wicked people go on living in spite of being wicked.

16 Don’t be too virtuous, and don’t be too wise. Why make yourself miserable? 17 Don’t be too wicked, and don’t be a fool. Why should you die before your time is up? 18 It’s good to hold on to the one and not let go of the other, because the one who fears God will be able to avoid both extremes.

The Advantages of Wisdom

19 Wisdom will help a wise person more than ten rulers can help a city. 20 Certainly, there is no one so righteous on earth that he always does what is good and never sins.

21 Don’t take everything that people say to heart, or you may hear your own servant cursing you. 22 Your conscience knows that you have cursed others many times.

23 I used wisdom to test all of this. I said, “I want to be wise, but it is out of my reach.” 24 Whatever wisdom may be, it is out of reach. It is deep, very deep. Who can find out what it is? 25 I turned my attention to study, to explore, and to seek out wisdom and the reason for things. I learned that wickedness is stupid and foolishness is madness.

26 I find that a woman whose thoughts are like traps and snares is more bitter than death itself. Even her hands are like chains. Whoever pleases God will escape her, but she will catch whoever continues to sin.

27 The spokesman said, “This is what I’ve found: I added one thing to another in order to find a reason for things. 28 I am still seeking a reason for things, but have not found any. I found one man out of a thousand who had it, but out of all these I didn’t find one woman. 29 I have found only this: God made people decent, but they looked for many ways to avoid being decent.”[a]

Who is really wise? Who knows how to explain things? Wisdom makes one’s face shine, and it changes one’s grim look.

The Power of Kings Versus the Power of Death

I advise you to obey the king’s commands because of the oath you took in God’s presence. Don’t be in a hurry to leave the king’s service. Don’t take part in something evil, because he can do whatever he pleases. Since a king’s word has such power, no one can ask him what he is doing. Whoever obeys his commands will avoid trouble. The mind of a wise person will know the right time and the right way to act. There is a right time and a right way to act in every situation. Yet, a terrible human tragedy hangs over people.

They don’t know what the future will bring. So who can tell them how things will turn out? No one has the power to prevent the spirit[b] of life from leaving. No one has control over the day of his own death. There is no way to avoid the war against death. Wickedness will not save wicked people from dying.

Life Is Unfair

I have seen all of this, and I have carefully considered all that is done under the sun whenever one person has authority to hurt others. 10 Then I saw wicked people given an honorable burial. They used to go in and out of the holy place. They were praised in the city for doing such things. Even this is pointless.

The Need for Swift Justice

11 When a sentence against a crime isn’t carried out quickly, people are encouraged to commit crimes. 12 A sinner may commit a hundred crimes and yet live a long life. Still, I know with certainty that it will go well for those who fear God, because they fear him. 13 But it will not go well for the wicked. They will not live any longer. Their lives are like shadows, because they don’t fear God.

Enjoy Life

14 There is something being done on earth that is pointless. Righteous people suffer for what the wicked do, and wicked people get what the righteous deserve. I say that even this is pointless.

15 So I recommend the enjoyment of life. People have nothing better to do under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy themselves. This joy will stay with them while they work hard during their brief lives which God has given them under the sun.

16 When I carefully considered how to study wisdom and how to look at the work that is done on earth (even going without sleep day and night), 17 then I saw everything that God has done. No one is able to grasp the work that is done under the sun. However hard a person may search for it, he will not find its meaning. Even though a wise person claims to know, he is not able to grasp it.

Everything Is in the Hands of God

Now, I have carefully thought about all this, and I explain it in this way: Righteous people and wise people, along with their accomplishments, are in God’s hands. No one knows whether there will be love or hatred. Everything turns out the same way for everyone. All people will share the same destiny, whether they are righteous, wicked, or good, clean or unclean,[c] whether they offer sacrifices or don’t offer sacrifices. Good people are treated like sinners. People who take oaths are treated like those who are afraid to take oaths.

Where There’s Life, There’s Hope

This is the tragedy of everything that happens under the sun: Everyone shares the same destiny. Moreover, the hearts of mortals are full of evil. Madness is in their hearts while they are still alive. After that, they join the dead. But all who are among the living have hope, because a living dog is better than a dead lion. The living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything. There is no more reward for the dead when the memory of them has faded. Their love, their hate, and their passions have already vanished. They will never again take part in anything that happens under the sun.

Enjoy Life with Your Wife

Go, enjoy eating your food, and drink your wine cheerfully, because God has already accepted what you’ve done. Always wear clean clothes, and never go without lotion on your head. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, during all your brief, pointless life. God has given you your pointless life under the sun. This is your lot in life and what you get for the hard work that you do under the sun.

Work with All Your Might

10 Whatever presents itself for you to do, do it with all your might, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or skill in the grave where you’re going.

Time and Unpredictable Events

11 I saw something else under the sun. The race isn’t won by fast runners, or the battle by heroes. Wise people don’t necessarily have food. Intelligent people don’t necessarily have riches, and skilled people don’t necessarily receive special treatment. But time and unpredictable events overtake all of them. 12 No one knows when his time will come. Like fish that are caught in a cruel net or birds caught in a snare, humans are trapped by a disaster when it suddenly strikes them.

Wisdom Is Despised

13 I also have seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it made a deep impression on me. 14 There was a small town with a few soldiers in it, and a powerful king came to attack it. He surrounded it and blockaded it. 15 A poor, wise person was found in that town. He saved the town using his wisdom. But no one remembered that poor person. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength,” even though that poor person’s wisdom was despised, and no one listened to what he said.

17 One should pay more attention to calm words from wise people than shouting from a ruler of fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 7:29 English equivalent difficult.
  2. Ecclesiastes 8:8 Or “breath.”
  3. Ecclesiastes 9:2 “Clean” refers to anything that Moses’ Teachings say is presentable to God. “Unclean” refers to anything that Moses’ Teachings say is not presentable to God.
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2 Corinthians 7:8-16

If my letter made you uncomfortable, I’m not sorry. But since my letter did make you uncomfortable for a while, I was sorry. But I’m happy now, not because I made you uncomfortable, but because the distress I caused you has led you to change the way you think and act. You were distressed in a godly way, so we haven’t done you any harm. 10 In fact, to be distressed in a godly way causes people to change the way they think and act and leads them to be saved. No one can regret that. But the distress that the world causes brings only death.

11 When you became distressed in a godly way, look at how much devotion it caused you to have. You were ready to clear yourselves of the charges against you. You were disgusted with the wrong that had been done. You were afraid. You wanted to see us. You wanted to show your concern for us. You were ready to punish the wrong that had been done. In every way you have demonstrated that you are people who are innocent in this matter. 12 So, when I wrote to you, I didn’t write because of the man who did the wrong or the man who was hurt by it. Rather, I wrote because I wanted you to show your devotion to us in God’s sight. 13 This is what has comforted us.

In addition to being comforted, we were especially pleased to see how happy Titus was. All of you had put his mind at ease. 14 I didn’t have to be ashamed of anything I had said to him when I bragged about you. Since everything we told you was true, our bragging to Titus has also proved to be true. 15 His deepest feelings go out to you even more as he remembers how obedient all of you were, and how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16 I’m pleased that I can be confident about you in every way.

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Psalm 48

Psalm 48

A song; a psalm by Korah’s descendants.

The Lord is great.
He should be highly praised.
    His holy mountain is in the city of our God.
        Its beautiful peak is the joy of the whole earth.
    Mount Zion is on the northern ridge.
        It is the city of the great king.
God is in its palaces.
He has proved that he is a stronghold.

The kings have gathered.
    They marched together.
        When they saw Mount Zion,
            they were astonished.
            They were terrified and ran away in fear.
            Trembling seized them
                like the trembling that a woman experiences during labor.
    With the east wind you smash the ships of Tarshish.

The things we had only heard about, we have now seen
    in the city of the Lord of Armies,
    in the city of our God.
        God makes Zion stand firm forever. Selah
Inside your temple we carefully reflect on your mercy, O God.
10 Like your name, O God,
    your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad
    and the cities of Judah rejoice
        because of your judgments.

12 Walk around Zion.
    Go around it.
        Count its towers.
13             Examine its embankments.
                Walk through its palaces.
Then you can tell the next generation,
14     “This God is our God forever and ever.
        He will lead us beyond death.”

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Proverbs 22:17-19

Listen to My Advice

17 Open your ears, and hear the words of wise people,
    and set your mind on the knowledge I give you.
18         It is pleasant if you keep them in mind
            so that they will be on the tip of your tongue,
19             so that your trust may be in the Lord.
Today I have made them known to you, especially to you.

Read More
GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Copyright © 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group

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