Ecclesiastes 5-8 Revised Standard Version

The Folly of Rash Vows

5 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2  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 upon earth; therefore let your words be few. 3  For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.

4  When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5  It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6  Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? 7  For when dreams increase, empty words grow many: but do you fear God.

The Vanity of Life

8  If you see in a province the poor oppressed and justice and right violently taken away, do not be amazed at the matter; for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.

9  But in all, a king is an advantage to a land with cultivated fields. 10  He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity. 11  When goods increase, they increase who eat them; and what gain 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 surfeit of the rich will not let him sleep. 13  There is a grievous evil which 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  As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil, which he may carry away in his hand. 16  This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go; and what gain has he that he toiled for the wind, 17  and spent all his days in darkness and grief, in much vexation and sickness and resentment?

18  Behold, what I have seen to be good and to be fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life which God has given him, for this is his lot. 19  Every man also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and find enjoyment in his toil--this is the 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.

6 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon men: 2  a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them; this is vanity; it is a sore affliction. 3  If a man begets a hundred children, and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but he does not enjoy life's good things, and also has no burial, I say that an untimely birth is better off than he. 4  For it comes into vanity and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is covered; 5  moreover it has not seen the sun or known anything; yet it finds rest rather than he. 6  Even though he should live a thousand years twice told, yet enjoy no good--do not all go to the one place?

7  All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied. 8  For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? 9  Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire; this also is vanity and a striving after wind. 10  Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he.

11  The more words, the more vanity, and what is man the better? 12  For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

Wisdom and Folly Compared

7 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death, than the day of birth. 2  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 men, and the living will lay it to heart. 3  Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad. 4  The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. 5  It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. 6  For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.

7  Surely oppression makes the wise man foolish, and a bribe corrupts the mind. 8  Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9  Be not quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom 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 see the sun. 12  For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money; and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. 13  Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. 15  In my vain life I have seen everything; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evil-doing. 16  Be not righteous overmuch, and do not make yourself overwise; why should you destroy yourself? 17  Be not wicked overmuch, neither be a fool; why should you die before your time? 18  It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand; for he who fears God shall come forth from them all. 19  Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers that are in a city. 20  Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. 21  Do not give heed to all the things that men say, lest you hear your servant cursing you; 22  your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.

23  All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, "I will be wise"; but it was far from me. 24  That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? 25  I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness which is madness. 26  And I found more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters; he who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. 27  Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, adding one thing to another to find the sum, 28  which my mind has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. 29  Behold, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many devices.

8 Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his countenance is changed. 2  Keep the king's command, and because of your sacred oath be not dismayed; 3  go from his presence, do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does whatever he pleases. 4  For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, "What are you doing?" 5  He who obeys a command will meet no harm, and the mind of a wise man will know the time and way.

6  For every matter has its time and way, although man's trouble lies heavy upon him. 7  For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be? 8  No man has power to retain the spirit, or authority over the day of death; there is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it.

9  All this I observed while applying my mind to all that is done under the sun, while man lords it over man to his hurt.

The Inequalities of Life

10  Then I saw the wicked buried; they used to go in and out of the holy place, and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. 11  Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil. 12  Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him; 13  but it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

14  There is a vanity which takes place on earth, that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15  And I commend enjoyment, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink, and enjoy himself, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of life which God gives him under the sun. 16  When I applied my mind to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night one's eyes see sleep; 17  then I saw all the work of God, that man 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, he cannot find it out.

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