The Vanity of Wealth and Honor
8If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. 9But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.5
10He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.
13There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15As 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. 16This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.
18Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment6 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 lot. 19Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
1There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: 2a 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;1 it is a grievous evil. 3If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life's good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. 4For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. 5Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. 6Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy2 no good—do not all go to the one place?
7All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.3 8For 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? 9Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
10Whatever 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. 11The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain4 life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?
The Contrast of Wisdom and Folly
1A good name is better than precious ointment,
and the day of death than the day of birth.
2It 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 lay it to heart.
3Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
6For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fools;
this also is vanity.1
7Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the heart2 of fools.
10Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
an advantage to those who see the sun.
12For 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.
13Consider the work of God:
who can make straight what he has made crooked?
14In 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.
15In my vain3 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 evildoing. 16Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.
19Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.
20Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.
21Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. 22Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
23All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?
25I 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. 26And I find something 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. 27Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— 28which my soul 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. 29See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.
Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.