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Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18; 2 Corinthians 7:8-16; Psalms 48:1-14; Proverbs 22:17-19 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Ecclesiastes 7-9

Wise Sayings

A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
since that is the end of all mankind,
and the living should take it to heart.
Grief is better than laughter,
for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad.
The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure.
It is better to listen to rebuke from a wise person
than to listen to the song of fools,
for like the crackling of burning thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of the fool.
This too is futile.
Surely, the practice of extortion turns a wise person into a fool,
and a bribe destroys the mind.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit.
Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry,
for anger abides in the heart of fools.
10 Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?”
since it is not wise of you to ask this.
11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance
and an advantage to those who see the sun,
12 because wisdom is protection as money is protection,
and the advantage of knowledge
is that wisdom preserves the life of its owner.
13 Consider the work of God,
for who can straighten out
what He has made crooked?

14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man cannot discover anything that will come after him.

Avoiding Extremes

15 In my futile life[a] I have seen everything: there is a righteous man who perishes in spite of his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in spite of his evil. 16 Don’t be excessively righteous, and don’t be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Don’t be excessively wicked, and don’t be foolish. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp the one and do not let the other slip from your hand. For the one who fears God will end up with both of them.

19 Wisdom makes the wise man stronger
than ten rulers of a city.
20 There is certainly no righteous man on the earth
who does good and never sins.

21 Don’t pay attention[b] to everything people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you, 22 for you know that many times you yourself have cursed others.

What the Teacher Found

23 I have tested all this by wisdom. I resolved, “I will be wise,” but it was beyond me. 24 What exists is beyond reach and very deep. Who can discover it? 25 I turned my thoughts to know, explore, and seek wisdom and an explanation for things, and to know that wickedness is stupidity and folly is madness. 26 And I find more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, her heart a net, and her hands chains. The one who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner will be captured by her. 27 “Look,” says the Teacher, “I have discovered this by adding one thing to another to find out the explanation, 28 which my soul continually searches for but does not find: among a thousand people I have found one true man, but among all these I have not found a true woman. 29 Only see this: I have discovered that God made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.”

Wisdom, Authorities, and Inequities

Who is like the wise person, and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom brightens his face, and the sternness of his face is changed.

Keep[c] the king’s command because of your oath made before God. Do not be in a hurry; leave his presence, and don’t persist in a bad cause, since he will do whatever he wants. For the king’s word is authoritative, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?” The one who keeps a command will not experience anything harmful, and a wise heart knows the right time and procedure. For every activity there is a right time and procedure, even though man’s troubles are heavy on him. Yet no one knows what will happen because who can tell him what will happen? No one has authority over the wind[d] to restrain it, and there is no authority over the day of death; there is no furlough in battle, and wickedness will not allow those who practice it to escape. All this I have seen, applying my mind to all the work that is done under the sun, at a time when one man has authority over another to his harm.

10 In such circumstances, I saw the wicked buried. They came and went from the holy place, and they were praised[e] in the city where they did so. This too is futile. 11 Because the sentence against a criminal act is not carried out quickly, the heart of people is filled with the desire to commit crime. 12 Although a sinner commits crime a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I also know that it will go well with God-fearing people, for they are reverent before Him. 13 However, it will not go well with the wicked, and they will not lengthen their days like a shadow, for they are not reverent before God.

14 There is a futility that is done on the earth: there are righteous people who get what the actions of the wicked deserve, and there are wicked people who get what the actions of the righteous deserve. I say that this too is futile. 15 So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life that God gives him under the sun.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the activity that is done on the earth (even though one’s eyes do not close in sleep day or night), 17 I observed all the work of God and concluded that man is unable to discover the work that is done under the sun. Even though a man labors hard to explore it, he cannot find it; even if the wise man claims to know it, he is unable to discover it.

Enjoy Life Despite Death

Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: the righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.People don’t know whether to expect love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. Everything is the same for everyone: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad,[f] for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner; as for the one who takes an oath, so for the one who fears an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: there is one fate for everyone. In addition, the hearts of people are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live—after that they go to the dead. But there is hope for whoever is joined[g] with all the living, since a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything. There is no longer a reward for them because the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate, and their envy have already disappeared, and there is no longer a portion for them in all that is done under the sun.

Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting[h] life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun. 10 Whatever your hands find to do, do with all your strength, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.

The Limitations of Wisdom

11 Again I saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, or bread to the wise, or riches to the discerning, or favor to the skillful; rather, time and chance happen to all of them. 12 For man certainly does not know his time: like fish caught in a cruel net or like birds caught in a trap, so people are trapped in an evil time as it suddenly falls on them.

13 I have observed that this also is wisdom under the sun, and it is significant to me: 14 There was a small city with few men in it. A great king came against it, surrounded it, and built large siege works against it. 15 Now a poor wise man was found in the city, and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 And I said, “Wisdom is better than strength, but the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are not heeded.”

17 The calm words of the wise are heeded
more than the shouts of a ruler over fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner can destroy much good.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 7:15 Lit days
  2. Ecclesiastes 7:21 Lit Don’t give your heart
  3. Ecclesiastes 8:2 Some Hb mss, LXX, Vg, Tg, Syr; other Hb mss read I, keep
  4. Ecclesiastes 8:8 Or life-breath
  5. Ecclesiastes 8:10 Some Hb mss, LXX, Aq, Theod, Sym; other Hb mss read forgotten
  6. Ecclesiastes 9:2 LXX, Aq, Syr, Vg; MT omits and the bad
  7. Ecclesiastes 9:4 Alt Hb tradition reads chosen
  8. Ecclesiastes 9:9 Or futile
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2 Corinthians 7:8-16

For even if I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it—even though I did regret it since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a little while. Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death. 11 For consider how much diligence this very thing—this grieving as God wills—has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was not because of the one who did wrong, or because of the one who was wronged, but in order that your diligence for us might be made plain to you in the sight of God. 13 For this reason we have been comforted.

In addition to our comfort, we rejoiced even more over the joy Titus had,[a] because his spirit was refreshed by all of you. 14 For if I have made any boast to him about you, I have not been embarrassed; but as I have spoken everything to you in truth, so our boasting to Titus has also turned out to be the truth. 15 And his affection toward you is even greater as he remembers the obedience of all of you, and how you received him with fear and trembling. 16 I rejoice that I have complete confidence in you.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Corinthians 7:13 Lit the joy of Titus
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Psalm 48

Psalm 48

Zion Exalted

A song. A psalm of the sons of Korah.

The Lord is great and highly praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, rising splendidly,
is the joy of the whole earth.
Mount Zion on the slopes of the north
is the city of the great King.
God is known as a stronghold
in its citadels.

Look! The kings assembled;
they advanced together.
They looked and froze with fear;
they fled in terror.
Trembling seized them there,
agony like that of a woman in labor,
as You wrecked the ships of Tarshish
with the east wind.

Just as we heard, so we have seen
in the city of Yahweh of Hosts,
in the city of our God;
God will establish it forever.Selah

God, within Your temple,
we contemplate Your faithful love.
10 Your name, God, like Your praise,
reaches to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is filled with justice.
11 Mount Zion is glad.
The towns[a] of Judah rejoice
because of Your judgments.

12 Go around Zion, encircle it;
count its towers,
13 note its ramparts; tour its citadels
so that you can tell a future generation:
14 “This God, our God forever and ever—
He will always lead us.”[b]

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 48:11 Lit daughters
  2. Psalm 48:14 Some Hb mss, LXX; other Hb mss read over death
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Proverbs 22:17-19

Words of the Wise

17 Listen closely,[a] pay attention to the words of the wise,
and apply your mind to my knowledge.
18 For it is pleasing if you keep them within you
and if[b] they are constantly on your lips.
19 I have instructed you today—even you—
so that your confidence may be in the Lord.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 22:17 Lit Stretch out your ear
  2. Proverbs 22:18 Or you; let them be, or you, so that
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