Ecclesiastes 7-12 World English Bible

Wisdom and Folly Compared

7 1  A good name is better than fine perfume; and the day of death better than the day of one’s birth. 2  It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men, and the living should take this to heart. 3  Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the face the heart is made good. 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 to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. 6  For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This also is vanity.

7  Surely extortion makes the wise man foolish; and a bribe destroys the understanding. 8  Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.

The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 9  Don’t be hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools. 10  Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For you do not ask wisely about this.

11  Wisdom is as good as an inheritance. Yes, it is more excellent for those who see the sun. 12  For wisdom is a defense, even as money is a defense; but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. 13  Consider the work of God, for who can make that straight, which he has made crooked? 14  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; yes, God has made the one side by side with the other, to the end that man should not find out anything after him. 15  All this have I seen in my days of vanity: there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in his evildoing. 16  Don’t be overly righteous, neither make yourself overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17  Don’t be too wicked, neither be foolish. Why should you die before your time? 18  It is good that you should take hold of this. Yes, also from that don’t withdraw your hand; for he who fears God will come forth from them all. 19  Wisdom is a strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20  Surely there is not a righteous man on earth, who does good and doesn’t sin. 21  Also don’t take heed to all words that are spoken, lest you hear your servant curse you; 22  for often your own heart knows that you yourself have likewise cursed others.

23  All this have I proved in wisdom. I said, “I will be wise;” but it was far from me. 24  That which is, is far off and exceedingly deep. Who can find it out? 25  I turned around, and my heart sought to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know that wickedness is stupidity, and that foolishness is madness. 26  I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and traps, whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God shall escape from her; but the sinner will be ensnared by her. 27  Behold, this have I found, says the Preacher, one to another, to find out the scheme; 28  which my soul still seeks; but I have not found: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found. 29  Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they search for many schemes.

8 1  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 face is changed. 2  I say, “Keep the king’s command!” because of the oath to God. 3  Don’t be hasty to go out of his presence. Don’t persist in an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him, 4  for the king’s word is supreme. Who can say to him, “What are you doing?” 5  Whoever keeps the commandment shall not come to harm, and his wise heart will know the time and procedure.

6  For there is a time and procedure for every purpose, although the misery of man is heavy on him. 7  For he doesn’t know that which will be; for who can tell him how it will be? 8  There is no man who has power over the spirit to contain the spirit; neither does he have power over the day of death. There is no discharge in war; neither shall wickedness deliver those who practice it.

9  All this have I seen, and applied my mind to every work that is done under the sun. There is a time in which one man has power over another to his hurt.

The Inequalities of Life

10  So I saw the wicked buried. Indeed they came also from holiness. They went and were forgotten in the city where they did this. This also is vanity. 11  Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12  Though a sinner commits crimes a hundred times, and lives long, yet surely I know that it will be better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. 13  But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he lengthen days like a shadow; because he doesn’t fear God.

14  There is a vanity which is done on the earth, that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked. Again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15  Then I commended mirth, because a man has no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be joyful: for that will accompany him in his labor all the days of his life which God has given him under the sun. 16  When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on the earth (for also there is that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes), 17  then I saw all the work of God, that man can’t find out the work that is done under the sun, because however much a man labors to seek it out, yet he won’t find it. Yes even though a wise man thinks he can comprehend it, he won’t be able to find it.

9 1  For all this I laid to my heart, even to explore all this: that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God; whether it is love or hatred, man doesn’t know it; all is before them. 2  All things come alike to all. There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good, to the clean, to the unclean, to him who sacrifices, and to him who doesn’t sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; he who takes an oath, as he who fears an oath. 3  This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event to all: yes also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

4  For to him who is joined with all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5  For the living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything, neither do they have any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6  Also their love, their hatred, and their envy has perished long ago; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun. 7  Go your way—eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. 8  Let your garments be always white, and don’t let your head lack oil. 9  Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your life of vanity, which he has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity: for that is your portion in life, and in your labor in which you labor under the sun. 10  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, where you are going.

11  I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. 12  For man also doesn’t know his time. As the fish that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them.

13  I have also seen wisdom under the sun in this way, and it seemed great to me. 14  There was a little city, and few men within it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it. 15  Now a poor wise man was found in it, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. 16  Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. 17  The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the cry of him who rules among fools. 18  Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.

The Excellence of Wisdom

10 1  Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; so does a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor. 2  A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart at his left. 3  Yes also, when the fool walks by the way, his understanding fails him, and he says to everyone that he is a fool.

4  If the spirit of the ruler rises up against you, don’t leave your place; for gentleness lays great offenses to rest. 5  There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, the sort of error which proceeds from the ruler. 6  Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in a low place. 7  I have seen servants on horses, and princes walking like servants on the earth. 8  He who digs a pit may fall into it; and whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. 9  Whoever carves out stones may be injured by them. Whoever splits wood may be endangered thereby. 10  If the axe is blunt, and one doesn’t sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but skill brings success. 11  If the snake bites before it is charmed, then is there no profit for the charmer’s tongue.

12  The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but a fool is swallowed by his own lips. 13  The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. 14  A fool also multiplies words.

Man doesn’t know what will be; and that which will be after him, who can tell him? 15  The labor of fools wearies every one of them; for he doesn’t know how to go to the city.

16  Woe to you, land, when your king is a child,
and your princes eat in the morning! 17  Happy are you, land, when your king is the son of nobles,
and your princes eat in due season,
for strength, and not for drunkenness! 18  By slothfulness the roof sinks in;
and through idleness of the hands the house leaks. 19  A feast is made for laughter,
and wine makes the life glad;
and money is the answer for all things. 20  Don’t curse the king, no, not in your thoughts;
and don’t curse the rich in your bedchamber:
for a bird of the sky may carry your voice,
and that which has wings may tell the matter.

11 1  Cast your bread on the waters;
for you shall find it after many days. 2  Give a portion to seven, yes, even to eight;
for you don’t know what evil will be on the earth. 3  If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth;
and if a tree falls toward the south, or toward the north,
in the place where the tree falls, there shall it be. 4  He who observes the wind won’t sow;
and he who regards the clouds won’t reap. 5  As you don’t know what is the way of the wind,
nor how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child;
even so you don’t know the work of God who does all. 6  In the morning sow your seed,
and in the evening don’t withhold your hand;
for you don’t know which will prosper, whether this or that,
or whether they both will be equally good.

7  Truly the light is sweet,
and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to see the sun. 8  Yes, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all;
but let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many.
All that comes is vanity.

Advice to the Young

9  Rejoice, young man, in your youth,
and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth,
and walk in the ways of your heart,
and in the sight of your eyes;
but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. 10  Therefore remove sorrow from your heart,
and put away evil from your flesh;
for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

12 1  Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come, and the years draw near,
when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them;” 2  Before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkened,
and the clouds return after the rain; 3  in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble,
and the strong men shall bow themselves,
and the grinders cease because they are few,
and those who look out of the windows are darkened, 4  and the doors shall be shut in the street;
when the sound of the grinding is low,
and one shall rise up at the voice of a bird,
and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; 5  yes, they shall be afraid of heights,
and terrors will be in the way;
and the almond tree shall blossom,
and the grasshopper shall be a burden,
and desire shall fail;
because man goes to his everlasting home,
and the mourners go about the streets: 6  before the silver cord is severed,
or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is broken at the spring,
or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7  and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

8  Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher.
All is vanity!

The Whole Duty of Man

9  Further, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge. Yes, he pondered, sought out, and set in order many proverbs. 10  The Preacher sought to find out acceptable words, and that which was written blamelessly, words of truth. 11  The words of the wise are like goads; and like nails well fastened are words from the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. 12  Furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

13  This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. 14  For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.


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