Ecclesiastes 5:1-6:12

5:1 (4:17) Be careful what you do when you go to the temple of God;

draw near to listen rather than to offer a sacrifice like fools,

for they do not realize that they are doing wrong.

2 (5:1) Do not be rash with your mouth or hasty in your heart to bring up a matter before God,

for God is in heaven and you are on earth!

Therefore, let your words be few.

3 Just as dreams come when there are many cares,

so the rash vow of a fool occurs when there are many words.

4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in paying it.

For God takes no pleasure in fools:

Pay what you vow!

5 It is better for you not to vow

than to vow and not pay it.

6 Do not let your mouth cause you to sin,

and do not tell the priest, “It was a mistake!”

Why make God angry at you

so that he would destroy the work of your hands?

7 Just as there is futility in many dreams,

so also in many words.

Therefore, fear God.

8 If you see the extortion of the poor,

or the perversion of justice and fairness in the government,

do not be astonished by the matter.

For the high official is watched by a higher official,

and there are higher ones over them!

9 The produce of the land is seized by all of them,

even the king is served by the fields.

10 The one who loves money will never be satisfied with money;

he who loves wealth will never be satisfied with his income.

This also is futile.

11 When someone’s prosperity increases, those who consume it also increase;

so what does its owner gain, except that he gets to see it with his eyes?

12 The sleep of the laborer is pleasant—whether he eats little or much—

but the wealth of the rich will not allow him to sleep.

13 Here is a misfortune on earth that I have seen:

Wealth hoarded by its owner to his own misery.

14 Then that wealth was lost through bad luck;

although he fathered a son, he has nothing left to give him.

15 Just as he came forth from his mother’s womb, naked will he return as he came,

and he will take nothing in his hand that he may carry away from his toil.

16 This is another misfortune:

Just as he came, so will he go.

What did he gain from toiling for the wind?

17 Surely, he ate in darkness every day of his life,

and he suffered greatly with sickness and anger.

18 I have seen personally what is the only beneficial and appropriate course of action for people:

to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all their hard work on earth

during the few days of their life that God has given them,

for this is their reward.

19 To every man whom God has given wealth and possessions,

he has also given him the ability

to eat from them, to receive his reward, and to find enjoyment in his toil;

these things are the gift of God.

20 For he does not think much about the fleeting days of his life

because God keeps him preoccupied with the joy he derives from his activity.

6:1 Here is another misfortune that I have seen on earth,

and it weighs heavily on people:

2 God gives a man riches, property, and wealth

so that he lacks nothing that his heart desires,

yet God does not enable him to enjoy the fruit of his labor—

instead, someone else enjoys it!

This is fruitless and a grave misfortune.

3 Even if a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years,

even if he lives a long, long time, but cannot enjoy his prosperity—

even if he were to live forever—

I would say, “A stillborn child is better off than he is.”

4 Though the stillborn child came into the world for no reason and departed into darkness,

though its name is shrouded in darkness,

5 though it never saw the light of day nor knew anything,

yet it has more rest than that man—

6 if he should live a thousand years twice, yet does not enjoy his prosperity.

For both of them die!

7 All man’s labor is for nothing more than to fill his stomach—

yet his appetite is never satisfied!

8 So what advantage does a wise man have over a fool?

And what advantage does a pauper gain by knowing how to survive?

9 It is better to be content with what the eyes can see

than for one’s heart always to crave more.

This continual longing is futile—like chasing the wind.

10 Whatever has happened was foreordained,

and what happens to a person was also foreknown.

It is useless for him to argue with God about his fate

because God is more powerful than he is.

11 The more one argues with words, the less he accomplishes.

How does that benefit him?

12 For no one knows what is best for a person during his life—

during the few days of his fleeting life—

for they pass away like a shadow.

Nor can anyone tell him what the future will hold for him on earth.