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4 So I again considered all the oppression that continually occurs on earth.
This is what I saw:
The oppressed were in tears, but no one was comforting them;
no one delivers them from the power of their oppressors.
2 So I considered those who are dead and gone
more fortunate than those who are still alive.
3 But better than both is the one who has not been born
and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth.
4 Then I considered all the skillful work that is done:
Surely it is nothing more than competition between one person and another.
This also is profitless—like chasing the wind.
5 The fool folds his hands and does no work,
so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh.
6 Better is one handful with some rest
than two hands full of toil and chasing the wind.
7 So I again considered another futile thing on earth:
8 A man who is all alone with no companion,
he has no children nor siblings;
yet there is no end to all his toil,
and he is never satisfied with riches.
He laments, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?”
This also is futile and a burdensome task!
9 Two people are better than one,
because they can reap more benefit from their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will help his companion up,
but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.
11 Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm,
but how can one person keep warm by himself?
12 Although an assailant may overpower one person,
two can withstand him.
Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken.
13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king
who no longer knows how to receive advice.
14 For he came out of prison to become king,
even though he had been born poor in what would become his kingdom.
15 I considered all the living who walk on earth,
as well as the successor who would arise in his place.
16 There is no end to all the people nor to the past generations,
yet future generations will not rejoice in him.
This also is profitless and like chasing the wind.
5 (4:17) Be careful what you do when you go to the temple of God;
draw near to listen rather than to offer a sacrifice like fools,
for they do not realize that they are doing wrong.
2 (5:1) Do not be rash with your mouth or hasty in your heart to bring up a matter before God,
for God is in heaven and you are on earth!
Therefore, let your words be few.
3 Just as dreams come when there are many cares,
so the rash vow of a fool occurs when there are many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in paying it.
For God takes no pleasure in fools:
Pay what you vow!
5 It is better for you not to vow
than to vow and not pay it.
6 Do not let your mouth cause you to sin,
and do not tell the priest, “It was a mistake!”
Why make God angry at you
so that he would destroy the work of your hands?”
7 Just as there is futility in many dreams,
so also in many words.
Therefore, fear God!
8 If you see the extortion of the poor,
or the perversion of justice and fairness in the government,
do not be astonished by the matter.
For the high official is watched by a higher official,
and there are higher ones over them!
9 The produce of the land is seized by all of them,
even the king is served by the fields.
10 The one who loves money will never be satisfied with money,
he who loves wealth will never be satisfied with his income.
This also is futile.
11 When someone’s prosperity increases, those who consume it also increase;
so what does its owner gain, except that he gets to see it with his eyes?
12 The sleep of the laborer is pleasant—whether he eats little or much—
but the wealth of the rich will not allow him to sleep.
13 Here is a misfortune on earth that I have seen:
Wealth hoarded by its owner to his own misery.
14 Then that wealth was lost through bad luck;
although he fathered a son, he has nothing left to give him.
15 Just as he came forth from his mother’s womb, naked will he return as he came,
and he will take nothing in his hand that he may carry away from his toil.
16 This is another misfortune:
Just as he came, so will he go.
What did he gain from toiling for the wind?
17 Surely, he ate in darkness every day of his life,
and he suffered greatly with sickness and anger.
18 I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people:
to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth
during the few days of their life which God has given them,
for this is their reward.
19 To every man whom God has given wealth, and possessions,
he has also given him the ability
to eat from them, to receive his reward and to find enjoyment in his toil;
these things are the gift of God.
20 For he does not think much about the fleeting days of his life
because God keeps him preoccupied with the joy he derives from his activity.
6 Here is another misfortune that I have seen on earth,
and it weighs heavily on people:
2 God gives a man riches, property, and wealth
so that he lacks nothing that his heart desires,
yet God does not enable him to enjoy the fruit of his labor—
instead, someone else enjoys it!
This is fruitless and a grave misfortune.
3 Even if a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years—
even if he lives a long, long time, but cannot enjoy his prosperity—
even if he were to live forever—
I would say, “A stillborn child is better off than he is!”
4 Though the stillborn child came into the world for no reason and departed into darkness,
though its name is shrouded in darkness,
5 though it never saw the light of day nor knew anything,
yet it has more rest than that man—
6 if he should live a thousand years twice, yet does not enjoy his prosperity.
For both of them die!
7 All of man’s labor is for nothing more than to fill his stomach—
yet his appetite is never satisfied!
8 So what advantage does a wise man have over a fool?
And what advantage does a pauper gain by knowing how to survive?
9 It is better to be content with what the eyes can see
than for one’s heart always to crave more.
This continual longing is futile—like chasing the wind.
10 Whatever has happened was foreordained,
and what happens to a person was also foreknown.
It is useless for him to argue with God about his fate
because God is more powerful than he is.
11 The more one argues with words, the less he accomplishes.
How does that benefit him?
12 For no one knows what is best for a person during his life—
during the few days of his fleeting life—
for they pass away like a shadow.
Nor can anyone tell him what the future will hold for him on earth.
14 Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.
7 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, and thus accomplish holiness out of reverence for God. 2 Make room for us in your hearts; we have wronged no one, we have ruined no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I told you before that you are in our hearts so that we die together and live together with you.
4 I have great confidence in you; I take great pride on your behalf. I am filled with encouragement; I am overflowing with joy in the midst of all our suffering. 5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our body had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way—struggles from the outside, fears from within. 6 But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. 7 We were encouraged not only by his arrival, but also by the encouragement you gave him, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your deep concern for me, so that I rejoiced more than ever.
1 All you nations, clap your hands!
Shout out to God in celebration!
2 For the sovereign Lord is awe-inspiring;
he is the great king who rules the whole earth!
3 He subdued nations beneath us
and countries under our feet.
4 He picked out for us a special land
to be a source of pride for Jacob, whom he loves. (Selah)
5 God has ascended his throne amid loud shouts;
the Lord has ascended his throne amid the blaring of ram’s horns.
6 Sing to God! Sing!
Sing to our king! Sing!
7 For God is king of the whole earth!
Sing a well-written song!
8 God reigns over the nations!
God sits on his holy throne!
9 The nobles of the nations assemble,
along with the people of the God of Abraham,
for God has authority over the rulers of the earth.
He is highly exalted!
16 The one who oppresses the poor to increase his own gain
and the one who gives to the rich—both end up only in poverty.