Ecclesiastes 4–6; Psalm 79

Evil Under the Sun

uAgain I vsaw all wthe oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had xno one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I ythought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But zbetter than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is avanity1 and a striving after wind.

The fool bfolds his hands and ceats his own flesh.

dBetter is a handful of equietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.

uAgain, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his feyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, gFor whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure? This also is vanity and an unhappy hbusiness.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, ibut how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand hima threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13 Better was ja poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how kto take advice. 14 For he went lfrom prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that2 youth who was to stand in the king’s3 place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is mvanity and a striving after wind.

4

Fear God

nGuard your steps when you go to othe house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to poffer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 5 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore qlet your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with rmany words.

When syou vow a vow to God, tdo not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. uPay what you vow. vIt is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you6 into sin, and do not say before wthe messenger7 that it was xa mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity;8 but9 yGod is the one you must fear.

The Vanity of Wealth and Honor

zIf you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, ado not be amazed at the matter, bfor the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.10

10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

13 cThere is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 dAs he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what egain is there to him who ftoils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he geats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

18 Behold, what I have seen to be hgood and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment11 in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his ilot. 19 Everyone also to whom jGod has given kwealth and possessions land power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toilthis is mthe gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

nThere is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man oto whom pGod gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he qlacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God rdoes not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity;12 it is a grievous evil. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that sthe days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s tgood things, and he also has no uburial, I say that va stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not wseen the sun or known anything, yet it finds xrest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy13 no gooddo not all go to the one place?

yAll the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.14 For what advantage has the wise man zover the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? Better ais the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is bvanity and a striving after wind.

10 Whatever has come to be has calready been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to ddispute with one stronger than he. 11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his evain15 life, which he passes like fa shadow? For who can tell man what will be gafter him under the sun?


How Long, O Lord?

A Psalm of yAsaph.

79  O God, zthe nations have come into your ainheritance;

they have defiled your bholy temple;

they have claid Jerusalem in ruins.

They have given dthe bodies of your servants

to the birds of the heavens for food,

the flesh of your efaithful to fthe beasts of the earth.

They have poured out their blood like water

all around Jerusalem,

and there was gno one to bury them.

We have become ha taunt to our neighbors,

hmocked and derided by those around us.

iHow long, O Lord? Will you be angry jforever?

Will your kjealousy lburn like fire?

mPour out your anger on the nations

that ndo not know you,

and on the kingdoms

that odo not call upon your name!

For they have devoured Jacob

and laid waste his habitation.

pDo not remember against us qour former iniquities;1

let your compassion come speedily to meet us,

for we are rbrought very low.

sHelp us, O God of our salvation,

for the glory of your name;

deliver us, and tatone for our sins,

for your uname’s sake!

10  vWhy should the nations say,

Where is their God?

Let wthe avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants

be known among the nations before our eyes!

11  Let xthe groans of the prisoners come before you;

according to your great power, preserve those ydoomed to die!

12  Return zsevenfold into the alap of our neighbors

the btaunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!

13  But we your people, the csheep of your pasture,

will dgive thanks to you forever;

from generation to generation we will recount your praise.