The Vanity of Self-Indulgence
2 I xsaid in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.1 2 I ysaid of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I zsearched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on afolly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I bbuilt houses and planted cvineyards for myself. 5 I made myself dgardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had eslaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of fherds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and ggold and the treasure of hkings and iprovinces. I got jsingers, both men and women, and many kconcubines,2 the delight of the sons of man.
9 So I became great and lsurpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my lwisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart mfound pleasure in all my toil, and this was my nreward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was ovanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing pto be gained under the sun.
The Vanity of Living Wisely
12 qSo I turned to consider rwisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only swhat has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 tThe wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the usame event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, v“What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is wno enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. xHow the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for oall is vanity and a striving after wind.
The Vanity of Toil
18 I hated yall my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must zleave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I aturned about and gave my heart up to despair bover all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from call the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For dall his days are full of sorrow, and his ework is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
24 fThere is nothing better for a person than that he should geat and drink and find enjoyment3 in his toil. This also, I saw, is hfrom the hand of God, 25 for apart from him4 who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him iGod has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given ethe business of gathering and collecting, jonly to give to one who pleases God. kThis also is vanity and a striving after wind.
Zion, the City of Our God
A Song. A Psalm of kthe Sons of Korah.
48 lGreat is the Lord and greatly to be praised
in mthe city of our God!
is pthe joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north,
qthe city of the great King.
3 Within her citadels God
has made himself known as a fortress.
4 For behold, rthe kings assembled;
they came on together.
5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic; they took to flight.
6 sTrembling took hold of them there,
anguish tas of a woman in labor.
the ships of wTarshish.
8 As we have heard, so have we seen
in the city of the Lord of hosts,
in mthe city of our God,
which God will xestablish forever. Selah
9 We have thought on your ysteadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 As your zname, O God,
so your praise reaches to athe ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Let Mount bZion be glad!
Let bthe daughters of Judah rejoice
because of your judgments!
12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
13 consider well her cramparts,
go through her citadels,
dthat you may tell the next generation
14 that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
Nehemiah Stops Oppression of the Poor
5 Now there arose fa great outcry of the people and of their wives gagainst their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.” 3 There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” 4 And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for hthe king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 Now iour flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet jwe are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.”
6 I was very angry when I heard ftheir outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, k“You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them 8 and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, lhave bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say. 9 So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk min the fear of our God nto prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? 10 Moreover, I and my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us abandon this exacting of interest. 11 Return to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive orchards, and their houses, and the percentage of money, grain, wine, and oil that you have been exacting from them.” 12 Then they said, “We will restore these and orequire nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and pmade them swear qto do as they had promised. 13 rI also shook out the fold1 of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” sAnd all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from tthe twentieth year to uthe thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, vneither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration2 forty shekels3 of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, wbecause of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were xat my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 yNow what was prepared at my expense4 for each day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this vI did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 zRemember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.
The Command to Rebuild the Temple
1 aIn the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to bZerubbabel the son of cShealtiel, governor of Judah, and to dJoshua the son of eJehozadak, the high priest: 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came fby the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 g“Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while hthis house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: iConsider your ways. 6 jYou have sown much, and harvested little. kYou eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who learns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: iConsider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that mI may take pleasure in it and that nI may be glorified, says the Lord. 9 jYou looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, oI blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house hthat lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore pthe heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And qI have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on rthe grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and son all their labors.”
The People Obey the Lord
12 tThen uZerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and uJoshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all vthe remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, w“I am with you, declares the Lord.” 14 And xthe Lord stirred up the spirit of uZerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of yJoshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all zthe remnant of the people. And they came and aworked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 bon the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
The Word of Life
1 aThat which was bfrom the beginning, cwhich we have heard, dwhich we have seen with our eyes, ewhich we looked upon and fhave touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 gthe life hwas made manifest, and we have seen it, and itestify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, awhich was with the Father and hwas made manifest to us— 3 cthat which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed jour fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so kthat our1 joy may be complete.
Walking in the Light
5 lThis is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that mGod is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 nIf we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and odo not practice the truth. 7 But pif we walk in the light, qas he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and rthe blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 sIf we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and tthe truth is not in us. 9 uIf we confess our sins, he is vfaithful and just to forgive us our sins and rto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, wwe make him a liar, and xhis word is not in us.