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Ecclesiastes 7-9

Wisdom and Folly Contrasted

A good name is better than precious perfume,
And the day of one’s death better than the day of one’s birth.

It is better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,
For that [day of death] is the end of every man,
And the living will take it to heart and solemnly ponder its meaning.

Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad (deep in thought) the heart may be happy [because it is growing in wisdom].

The heart of the wise [learns when it] is in the house of mourning,
But the heart of fools is [senseless] in the house of pleasure.

It is better to listen to the rebuke of the wise man and pursue wisdom
Than for one to listen to the song of fools and pursue stupidity.

For like the crackling of [burning] thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is vanity (futility).

For oppression makes a wise man foolish,
And a bribe corrupts the [good judgment of the] heart.

The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit (pride).

Do not be eager in your heart to be angry,
For anger dwells in the heart of fools.
10 
Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.
11 
Wisdom along with an inheritance is good
And an [excellent] advantage for those who see the sun.
12 
For wisdom is a protection even as money is a protection,
But the [excellent] advantage of knowledge is that wisdom shields and preserves the lives of its possessors.
13 
Consider the work of God:
Who can make straight what He has bent?
14 
In the day of prosperity be joyful,
But in the day of adversity consider that
God has made the one as well as the other,
So that man will not find out anything that will be after him.

15 I have seen everything during my [fleeting] days of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in [spite of] his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who [a]lives a long life in [spite of] his wickedness. 16 Do not be excessively righteous [like those given to self-conceit], and do not be overly wise (pretentious)—why should you bring yourself to ruin? 17 Do not be excessively or willfully wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you take hold of one thing (righteousness) and also not let go of the other (wisdom); for the one who fears and worships God [with awe-filled reverence] will come forth with both of them.

19 Wisdom strengthens the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who always does good and who never sins. 21 Also, do not take seriously everything that is said, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you, 22 for you also know that you too have cursed others many times.

23 I have tested all this with wisdom. I said, “I will be wise [independently of God],” but true wisdom was far from me. 24 Whatever has been is far off, deeply remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it [for it is beyond the grasp of man]? 25 I turned around and directed my heart to know, to investigate and to seek [skillful and godly] wisdom and the reason for things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness [leading to stupidity and recklessness]. 26 And I discovered that [of all irrational sins none has been so destructive in beguiling one away from God as immoral women for] more bitter than death is the woman whose heart is [composed of] snares and nets, and whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God will escape from her, but the sinner will be taken captive by her [evil].

27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “while adding one thing to another to find an explanation, 28 which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one [b]man among a thousand [who pleases God], but I have not found [such] a woman among all these [a thousand in my harem]. 29 Behold, I have found only this [as a reason]: God made man upright and uncorrupted, but they [both men and women] have sought out many devices [for evil].”

Obey Rulers

Who is like the wise man?
And who knows the interpretation of a matter?
A man’s wisdom illumines his face,
And causes his stern face to beam.

I counsel you to keep the command of the king because of the oath before God [by which you swore loyalty to him]. Do not be in a hurry to get out of his presence. Do not join in a malevolent matter, for the king will do whatever he pleases.


For the word of a king is authoritative and powerful,
And who will say to him, “What are you doing?”

Whoever keeps and observes a royal command will experience neither trouble nor misery;
For a wise heart will know the [c]proper time and [appropriate] procedure.

For there is a [d]proper time and [appropriate] procedure for every delight,
Though mankind’s misery and trouble lies heavily upon him [who rebels against the king].

For no one knows what will happen;
So who can tell him how and when it will happen?

There is no man who has power and authority over the wind to restrain the wind,
Nor does he have authority over the day of death;
There is no discharge [from service] during time of war,
And evil will not rescue those who [actively seek to] practice it.

All this I have seen while applying my mind to every deed that is done under the sun. There is a time in which one man has exercised power over others to their detriment.

10 So then, I have seen the wicked buried, those who used to go in and out of the holy place [but did not thereby escape their doom], and they are [praised in spite of their evil and] soon forgotten in the city where they did such things. This too is futility (vanity, emptiness). 11 Because the sentence against an evil act is not executed quickly, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his life [seemingly] is prolonged [in spite of his wickedness], still I know that it will be well with those who [reverently] fear God, who fear and worship Him openly [realizing His omnipresence and His power]. 13 But it will not be well for the evil man, nor will he lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.

14 There is a meaningless and futile thing which is done on the earth: that is, there are righteous men whose gain is as though they were evil, and evil men whose gain is as though they were righteous. I say that this too is futility (meaningless, vain). 15 Then I commended pleasure and enjoyment, because a man [without God] has no better thing under the sun than to eat and to drink and to be merry, for this will stand by him in his toil through the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to see the activities [of mankind] that take place upon the earth—how some men seem to sleep neither day nor night— 17 and I saw all the work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work that is done under the sun. Even though man may labor in seeking, he will not discover; and [more than that], though a wise man thinks and claims he knows, he will not be able to find it out.

Men Are in the Hand of God

For I have taken all this to heart, exploring and examining it all, how the righteous (those in right standing with God) and the wise and their deeds are in the hands of God. No man knows whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.

It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man who offers sacrifices and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner; as he who swears an oath is, so is he who is afraid to swear an oath. This evil is in all that is done under the sun, that one fate comes to all. Also, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they go to the dead. [There is no exemption,] but whoever is joined with all the living, has hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they no longer have a reward [here], for the memory of them is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hatred and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share [in this age] in anything that is done under the sun.

Go your way, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a cheerful heart [if you are righteous, wise, and in the hands of God]; for God has already approved and accepted your works. Let your clothes always be white [with purity], and do not let the oil [of gladness] be lacking on your head. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given you under the sun—all the days of vanity and futility. For this is your reward in life and in your work in which you have labored under the sun.

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead) where you are going.

11 I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the strong, and neither is bread to the wise nor riches to those of intelligence and understanding nor favor to men of ability; but time and chance overtake them all. 12 For man also does not know his time [of death]; like fish caught in a treacherous net, and birds caught in the snare, so the sons of men are ensnared in an evil time when a dark cloud suddenly falls on them.

13 This [illustration of] wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and great it was to me: 14 There was a little city with few men in it and a great king came against it and besieged it and built great battlements against it. 15 But there was found in it a poor wise man, and by his wisdom he rescued the city. Yet no man [seriously] remembered that poor man. 16 But I say that wisdom is better than strength, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heeded. 17 The words of wise men heard in quietness are better than the shouting of one who rules among fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 7:15 Lit prolongs.
  2. Ecclesiastes 7:28 Or person.
  3. Ecclesiastes 8:5 Lit time and judgment.
  4. Ecclesiastes 8:6 Lit time and judgment.
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2 Corinthians 13

Examine Yourselves

13 This is the third time that I am visiting you. Every fact shall be sustained and confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I have already warned those who have sinned in the past and all the rest as well, and I warn them now even though I am absent [from you] as I did when I was with you the second time, that if I come back I will not spare anyone, since you seek [forensic] proof that Christ is speaking in and through me. He is not weak or ineffective in dealing with you, but powerful within you. For even though He was crucified in weakness [yielding Himself], yet He lives [resurrected] by the power of God [His Father]. For we too are weak in Him [as He was humanly weak], yet we are alive and well [in fellowship] with Him because of the power of God directed toward you.

Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as counterfeit? But I hope you will acknowledge that we do not fail the test nor are we to be rejected. But I pray to God that you may do nothing wrong. Not so that we [and our teaching] may appear to be approved, but that you may continue doing what is right, even though we [by comparison] may seem to have failed. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth [and the gospel—the good news of salvation]. We are glad when we are weak [since God’s power comes freely through us], but you [by comparison] are strong. We also pray for this, that you be made complete [fully restored, growing and maturing in godly character and spirit—pleasing your heavenly Father by the life you live]. 10 For this reason I am writing these things while absent from you, so that when I come, I will not need to deal severely [with you], in my use of the authority which the Lord has given me [to be used] for building you up and not for tearing you down.

11 Finally, believers, rejoice! Be made complete [be what you should be], be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace [enjoy the spiritual well-being experienced by believers who walk closely with God]; and the God of love and peace [the source of lovingkindness] will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a [a]holy kiss. 13 All [b]God’s people greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Corinthians 13:12 A traditional greeting in biblical times, much like today’s handshake and hug.
  2. 2 Corinthians 13:13 Lit the saints.
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Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

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