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.