Ecclesiastes 8:1-9:18

8:1 Who is a wise person? Who knows the solution to a problem?

A person’s wisdom brightens his appearance and softens his harsh countenance.

2 Obey the king’s command,

because you took an oath before God to be loyal to him.

3 Do not rush out of the king’s presence in haste—do not delay when the matter is unpleasant,

for he can do whatever he pleases.

4 Surely the king’s authority is absolute;

no one can say to him, “What are you doing?”

5 Whoever obeys his command will not experience harm,

and a wise person knows the proper time and procedure.

6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,

for the oppression of the king is severe upon his victim.

7 Surely no one knows the future,

and no one can tell another person what will happen.

8 Just as no one has power over the wind to restrain it,

so no one has power over the day of his death.

Just as no one can be discharged during the battle,

so wickedness cannot rescue the wicked.

9 While applying my mind to everything that happens in this world, I have seen all this:

Sometimes one person dominates other people to their harm.

10 Not only that, but I have seen the wicked approaching and entering the temple,

and as they left the holy temple, they

boasted in the city that they had done so.

This also is an enigma.

11 When a sentence is not executed at once against a crime,

the human heart is encouraged to do evil.

12 Even though a sinner might commit a hundred crimes and still live a long time,

yet I know that it will go well with God-fearing people—for they stand in fear before him.

13 But it will not go well with the wicked,

nor will they prolong their days like a shadow,

because they do not stand in fear before God.

14 Here is another enigma that occurs on earth:

Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve,

and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve.

I said, “This also is an enigma.”

15 So I recommend the enjoyment of life,

for there is nothing better on earth for a person to do except to eat, drink, and enjoy life.

So joy will accompany him in his toil

during the days of his life that God gives him on earth.

16 When I tried to gain wisdom

and to observe the activity on earth—

even though it prevents anyone from sleeping day or night—

17 then I discerned all that God has done:

No one really comprehends what happens on earth.

Despite all human efforts to discover it, no one can ever grasp it.

Even if a wise person claimed that he understood,

he would not really comprehend it.

9:1 So I reflected on all this, attempting to clear it all up.

I concluded that the righteous and the wise, as well as their works, are in the hand of God;

whether a person will be loved or hated—

no one knows what lies ahead.

2 Everyone shares the same fate—

the righteous and the wicked,

the good and the bad,

the ceremonially clean and unclean,

those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

What happens to the good person, also happens to the sinner;

what happens to those who make vows, also happens to those who are afraid to make vows.

3 This is the unfortunate fact about everything that happens on earth:

The same fate awaits everyone.

In addition to this, the hearts of all people are full of evil,

and there is folly in their hearts during their lives—then they die.

4 But whoever is among the living has hope;

a live dog is better than a dead lion.

5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything;

they have no further reward—and even the memory of them disappears.

6 What they loved, as well as what they hated and envied, perished long ago,

and they no longer have a part in anything that happens on earth.

7 Go, eat your food with joy,

and drink your wine with a happy heart,

because God has already approved your works.

8 Let your clothes always be white,

and do not spare precious ointment on your head.

9 Enjoy life with your beloved wife during all the days of your fleeting life

that God has given you on earth during all your fleeting days;

for that is your reward in life and in your burdensome work on earth.

10 Whatever you find to do with your hands,

do it with all your might,

because there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave,

the place where you will eventually go.

11 Again, I observed this on the earth:

The race is not always won by the swiftest,

the battle is not always won by the strongest;

prosperity does not always belong to those who are the wisest;

wealth does not always belong to those who are the most discerning,

nor does success always come to those with the most knowledge—

for time and chance may overcome them all.

12 Surely, no one knows his appointed time.

Like fish that are caught in a deadly net and like birds that are caught in a snare—

just like them, all people are ensnared at an unfortunate time that falls upon them suddenly.

13 This is what I also observed about wisdom on earth,

and it is a great burden to me:

14 There was once a small city with a few men in it,

and a mighty king attacked it, besieging it and building strong siege works against it.

15 However, a poor but wise man lived in the city,

and he could have delivered the city by his wisdom,

but no one listened to that poor man.

16 So I concluded that wisdom is better than might,

but a poor man’s wisdom is despised; no one ever listens to his advice.

17 The words of the wise are heard in quiet,

more than the shouting of a ruler is heard among fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,

but one sinner can destroy much that is good.