Ecclesiastes Chapter 7 to 9 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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A Collection Of Wise Teachings

7 It is better to have a good name (respect) than good perfume.* The day a person dies is even better than the day he is born. 2It is even better to go to a funeral than to a party. Why? Because all people must die, and every person alive should accept this. 3Sorrow is even better than laughter. Why? Because when our face is sad, our heart becomes good. 4A wise person thinks about death, but a foolish person thinks only about having a good time. 5It is better to be criticized by a wise man than to be praised by a foolish person. 6The laughter of fools is such a waste. It is like thorns burning under a pot. {The thorns burn up so fast, that the pot does not get hot.}* 7Even a wise man will forget his wisdom, if someone pays him enough money. That money destroys his understanding. 8It is better to finish something than to start it. It is better to be gentle and patient than to be proud and impatient. 9Don’t become angry quickly. Why? Because being angry is foolish. 10Don’t say, “Life was better in the ‘good old days.’ What happened?” Wisdom doesn’t lead us to ask that question. 11Wisdom is better if you also have property. Really, wise people* will get more than enough wealth. 12Wisdom and money can protect you. But knowledge gained through wisdom is even better—it can save your life! 13Look at the things God has made. You can’t change a thing, even if you think it is wrong! 14When life is good, enjoy it. But when life is hard, remember that God gives us good times and hard times. And no one knows what will happen in the future.

People Can’t Be Truly Good

15In my short life, I have seen everything. I have seen good men die young. And I have seen evil men living long lives. 16–17So why kill yourself? Don’t be too good or too bad. And don’t be too wise or too foolish. Why should you die before your time? 18Try to be a little of this and a little of that.* Even God’s followers will do some good things and some bad things. 19–20Surely there is not a good man on earth that always does good and never sins. Wisdom gives a person strength. One wise man is stronger than ten {foolish} leaders in a city. 21Don’t listen to all the things people say. You might hear your own servant saying bad things about you. 22And you know that many times you too have said bad things about other people. 23I used my wisdom and thought about all these things. I wanted to be truly wise. But it was impossible. 24I can’t understand why things are like they are. It is too hard for anyone to understand. 25I studied and I tried very hard to find true wisdom. I tried to find a reason for everything. {What did I learn?} I learned that it is foolish to be evil, and it is crazy to act like a foolish person. 26I also found that {some women are dangerous like traps}. Their hearts are like nets, and their arms are like chains. It is worse than death to be caught by those women. A person that follows God will run away from those women. But a sinner will be caught by them. 27–28The Teacher says, “I added all these things together to see what answer I could find. I am still looking for answers. But I did find this: I found one {good} man in a thousand. But I did not find even one {good} woman. 29“There is one other thing I have learned: God made people good. But people found many ways to be bad.”

good name ... perfume This is a word play in Hebrew: the word for “name” and the word for “perfume” sound the same. The laughter ... get hot Or, “The cackling of fools like the crackling of thorns under a pot is senseless.” wise people Literally, “People that see the sun.” This means wise people can see and plan what they should do. Try to be a little of this and a little of that Or, “Hold onto this, but don’t let go of that.”

Wisdom and Power

8 No one can understand and explain things the way a wise man can. His wisdom makes him happy. It changes a sad face into a happy one. 2I say you should always obey the king’s command. Do this because you made a promise to God. 3Don’t be afraid to give suggestions to the king. And don’t support something that is wrong. But remember, the king gives the commands that please him. 4The king has the authority to give commands. And no one can tell him what to do. 5A person will be safe if he obeys the king’s command. But a wise man knows the right time to do this, and he also knows when to do the right thing. 6There is a right time and a right way for a person to do everything. {And each person must take a chance and decide what he should do.} He must do this even when he has many troubles 7and he isn’t sure what will happen. Why? Because no one can tell him what will happen in the future. 8No person has the power to keep his spirit from leaving. No person has the power to stop his death. During war, a soldier does not have the freedom to go any place he wants to go. In the same way, if a person does evil, that evil won’t allow him to be free. 9I saw all those things. I thought very hard about the things that happen in this world. And I saw that people always struggle for the power to rule other people. And this is bad for them. 10I also saw great and beautiful funerals for evil people. While the people were going home after the funeral services, they said good things about the evil people that had died. This happened even in the same towns where the evil people had done many, many bad things. That is senseless.

Justice, Rewards, and Punishment

11Sometimes people are not immediately punished for the bad things they do. Their punishment is slow to come. And that makes other people want to do bad things too. 12A sinner might do a hundred evil things. And he might have a long life. But I know that it is still better to obey and respect God. 13Evil people don’t respect God, so those people won’t really get good things. Those evil people won’t live long lives. Their lives won’t be like the shadows that become longer and longer {as the sun goes down}. 14There is something else that happens on earth that does not seem fair. Bad things should happen to bad people and good things should happen to good people. But sometimes bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. That is not fair. 15So I decided it was more important to enjoy life. Why? Because the best thing people can do in this life* is to eat, drink, and enjoy life. At least that will help people enjoy the hard work God gave them to do during their life on earth.

We Can’t Understand All God Does

16I carefully studied the things people do in this life. I saw how busy people are. They work day and night, and they almost never sleep. 17I also saw the many things that God does. And I saw that people can’t understand all the work that God does on earth. A person might try and try to understand, but he can’t. Even if a wise man says he understands the work God does, it is not true. No person can understand all those things.

in this life Literally, “under the sun.”

Is Death Fair?

9 I thought about all these things very carefully. I saw that God controls what happens to the good and wise people and the things they do. People don’t know if they will be loved or hated. And people don’t know what will happen in the future. 2But, there is one thing that happens to everyone—we all die! Death comes to good people and bad people. Death comes to people that are pure and to people that are not pure. Death comes to people that give sacrifices* and to people that do not give sacrifices. A good man will die just like a sinner. A person that makes special promises to God will die just like a person that is afraid to make those promises. 3Of all the things that happen in this life, the worst thing is that all people end the same way. But it is also very bad that people always think evil and foolish thoughts. And those thoughts lead to death. 4There is hope for any person that is still alive—it does not matter who he is. But this saying is true: A living dog is better than a dead lion. 5Living people know that they will die. But dead people don’t know anything. Dead people have no more reward. People will soon forget them. 6After a person is dead, his love, hate, and jealousy are all gone. And dead people will never again share in the things that happen on earth.

Enjoy Life While You Can

7So go and eat your food now and enjoy it. Drink your wine and be happy. It is all right with God if you do these things. 8Wear nice clothes and make yourself look good. 9Enjoy life with the wife you love. Enjoy every day of your short life. God has given you this short life on earth—and it is all you have. So, enjoy the work you have to do in this life. 10Every time you find work to do, do it the best you can. In the grave there is no work. There is no thinking, no knowledge, and there is no wisdom. And we are all going to that {place of death}.

Life Isn’t Fair

11I also saw other things in this life* that were not fair: The fastest runner does not always win the race; the strongest army does not always win the battle; the wisest man does not always get the food he earns; the smartest man does not always get the wealth; and an educated person does not always get the praise he deserves. When the time comes, bad things happen to everyone! 12A person never knows what will happen to him next. He is like a fish caught in a net—the fish does not know what will happen. He is like a bird caught in a trap—the bird does not know what will happen. In the same way, a person is trapped by the bad things that suddenly happen to him.

The Power of Wisdom

13I also saw a person doing a wise thing in this life. And it seemed very important to me. 14There was a small town with a few people in it. A great king fought against that town and put his armies all around it. 15But there was a wise man in that town. That wise man was poor, but he used his wisdom to save his town. After everything was finished, the people forgot about that poor man. 16But I still say that wisdom is better than strength. Those people forgot about the poor man’s wisdom, and the people stopped listening to what he said. {But I still believe that wisdom is better.} 17A few words quietly spoken by a wise man are much better than words shouted by a foolish ruler.* 18Wisdom is better than swords and spears in war. But one foolish person* can destroy much good.

sacrifices A gift to God. Sometimes it was a special kind of animal that was killed and burned on an altar. in this life Literally, “under the sun.” A few words … foolish ruler Or, “Words of a wise man quietly heard are better than the shouts of a ruler among foolish people.” foolish person Literally, “sinner.”

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