Ecclesiastes 7–9; 2 Corinthians 13

The Contrast of Wisdom and Folly

hA good name is better than precious ointment,

and ithe day of death than the day of birth.

It is better to go to the house of mourning

than to go to the house of feasting,

for this is the end of all mankind,

and the living will jlay it to heart.

Sorrow is better than laughter,

kfor by sadness of face the heart is made glad.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,

but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

It is lbetter for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise

than to hear the song of fools.

mFor as the crackling of nthorns under a pot,

so is the laughter of the fools;

this also is vanity.1

Surely ooppression drives the wise into madness,

and pa bribe corrupts the heart.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,

and qthe patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

rBe not quick in your spirit to become angry,

sfor anger lodges in the heart2 of fools.

10  Say not, Why were the former days better than these?

For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

11  Wisdom is good with an inheritance,

an advantage to those who tsee the sun.

12  For the protection of wisdom is like uthe protection of money,

and the advantage of knowledge is that vwisdom preserves the life of him who has it.

13  Consider wthe work of God:

xwho can make straight what he has made crooked?

14 yIn the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, zso that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

15 In my avain3 life I have seen everything. There is ba righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who cprolongs his life in his evildoing. 16 Be not overly righteous, and do not dmake yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. eWhy should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should take hold of fthis, and from gthat hwithhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.

19 iWisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

20 Surely jthere is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

21 Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear kyour servant cursing you. 22 Your heart knows that lmany times you yourself have cursed others.

23 All this I have tested by wisdom. mI said, I will be wise, but it was far from me. 24 That which has been is far off, and ndeep, very deep; owho can find it out?

25 pI turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. 26 And I find something more qbitter than death: rthe woman whose heart is ssnares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but tthe sinner is taken by her. 27 Behold, this is what I found, says uthe Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things 28 which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. vOne man among a thousand I found, but wa woman among all these I have not found. 29 See, this alone I found, that xGod made man upright, but ythey have sought out many schemes.

Keep the King’s Command

Who is like the wise?

And who knows the interpretation of a thing?

zA man’s wisdom makes his face shine,

and athe hardness of his face is changed.

I say:4 Keep the king’s command, because of bGod’s oath to him.5 Be not hasty to cgo from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is supreme, and dwho may say to him, What are you doing? Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way.6 For there is a time and a way efor everything, although man’s trouble7 lies heavy on him. For he fdoes not know what is to be, for gwho can tell him how it will be? No man has power to hretain the spirit, ior power over the day of death. There is no jdischarge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it. kAll this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had power over man to his hurt.

Those Who Fear God Will Do Well

10 Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of lthe holy place and were mpraised8 in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity.9 11 Because nthe sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, othe heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and pprolongs his life, yet I know that qit will be well with rthose who fear God, because they fear before him. 13 But it will snot be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like ta shadow, because he does not fear before God.

Man Cannot Know God’s Ways

14 There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people uto whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people vto whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15 And I commend joy, for man whas nothing better under the sun but to xeat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see ythe business that is done on earth, how neither zday nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that aman cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, bhe cannot find it out.

Death Comes to All

But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, chow the righteous and the wise and their deeds are din the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. eIt is the same for all, since fthe same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil,10 to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who gswears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that ethe same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and hmadness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but ithe dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for jthe memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

Enjoy Life with the One You Love

Go, keat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

lLet your garments be always white. Let not moil be lacking on your head.

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your nvain11 life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your oportion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, pdo it with your might,12 qfor there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

11 rAgain I saw that under the sun sthe race is not to the swift, nor tthe battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and uchance vhappen to them all. 12 For man wdoes not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and xlike birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are ysnared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 But there was found in it za poor, wise man, and he by his awisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 But I say that bwisdom is better than might, though cthe poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.

17 The words of the wise heard in dquiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 eWisdom is better than weapons of war, but fone sinner destroys much good.


Final Warnings

13 kThis is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established lby the evidence of two or three witnesses. mI warned nthose who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that oif I come again I will not spare them since you seek proof that Christ pis speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but qis powerful among you. For rhe was crucified in weakness, but slives by the power of God. For twe also are weak in him, but in dealing with you uwe will live with him by the power of God.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. vTest yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that wJesus Christ is in you?unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrongnot that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when xwe are weak and you are strong. Your yrestoration is what we pray for. 10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come zI may not have to be asevere in my use of bthe authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.

Final Greetings

11 Finally, brothers,1 rejoice. cAim for restoration, comfort one another,2 dagree with one another, elive in peace; and the God of love and fpeace will be with you. 12 gGreet one another with a holy kiss. 13 hAll the saints greet you.

14 iThe grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and jthe love of God and kthe fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.