Ecclesiastes 3:1-4:16

3:1 For everything there is an appointed time,

and an appropriate time for every activity on earth:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

5 A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to search, and a time to give something up as lost;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

7 a time to rip, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.

8 A time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

9 What benefit can a worker gain from his toil?

10 I have observed the burden

that God has given to people to keep them occupied.

11 God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time,

but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart

so that people cannot discover what God has ordained,

from the beginning to the end of their lives.

12 I have concluded that there is nothing better for people

than to be happy and to enjoy

themselves as long as they live,

13 and also that everyone should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil,

for these things are a gift from God.

14 I also know that whatever God does will endure forever;

nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken away from it.

God has made it this way, so that men will fear him.

15 Whatever exists now has already been, and whatever will be has already been;

for God will seek to do again what has occurred in the past.

16 I saw something else on earth:

In the place of justice, there was wickedness,

and in the place of fairness, there was wickedness.

17 I thought to myself, “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked;

for there is an appropriate time for every activity,

and there is a time of judgment for every deed.”

18 I also thought to myself, “It is for the sake of people,

so God can clearly show them that they are like animals.

19 For the fate of humans and the fate of animals are the same:

As one dies, so dies the other; both have the same breath.

There is no advantage for humans over animals,

for both are fleeting.

20 Both go to the same place;

both come from the dust,

and to dust both return.

21 Who really knows if the human spirit ascends upward,

and the animal’s spirit descends into the earth?”

22 So I perceived there is nothing better than for people to enjoy their work

because that is their reward;

for who can show them what the future holds?

4:1 So I again considered all the oppression that continually occurs on earth.

This is what I saw:

The oppressed were in tears, but no one was comforting them;

no one delivers them from the power of their oppressors.

2 So I considered those who are dead and gone

more fortunate than those who are still alive.

3 But better than both is the one who has not been born

and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth.

4 Then I considered all the skillful work that is done:

Surely it is nothing more than competition between one person and another.

This also is profitless—like chasing the wind.

5 The fool folds his hands and does no work,

so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh.

6 Better is one handful with some rest

than two hands full of toil and chasing the wind.

7 So I again considered another futile thing on earth:

8 A man who is all alone with no companion—

he has no children nor siblings;

yet there is no end to all his toil,

and he is never satisfied with riches.

He laments, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?”

This also is futile and a burdensome task!

9 Two people are better than one

because they can reap more benefit from their labor.

10 For if they fall, one will help his companion up,

but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up.

11 Furthermore, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm,

but how can one person keep warm by himself?

12 Although an assailant may overpower one person,

two can withstand him.

Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken.

13 A poor but wise youth is better than an old and foolish king

who no longer knows how to receive advice.

14 For he came out of prison to become king,

even though he had been born poor in what would become his kingdom.

15 I considered all the living who walk on earth,

as well as the successor who would arise in his place.

16 There is no end to all the people nor to the past generations,

yet future generations will not rejoice in him.

This also is profitless and like chasing the wind.