A Disillusioned View of Life
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 everyone,
and the living will lay it to heart.
3Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of countenance 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 to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools.
6For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of fools;
this also is vanity.
7Surely oppression makes the wise foolish,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8Better is the end of a thing than its beginning;
the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.
9Do not be quick to anger,
for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.
10Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
11Wisdom is as good as 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 gives life to the one who possesses it.
13Consider the work of God;
who can make straight what he has made crooked?
14On the day of prosperity be joyful, and on the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them.
The Riddles of Life
15In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing. 16Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? 17Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? 18It is good that you should take hold of the one, without letting go of the other; for the one who fears God shall succeed with both.
19Wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten rulers that are in a city.
20Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.
21Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; 22your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.
23All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, ‘I will be wise’, but it was far from me. 24That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? 25I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness. 26I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters; one who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. 27See, this is what I found, says the Teacher,7.27 Qoheleth, traditionally rendered Preacher adding one thing to another to find the sum, 28which my mind 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 human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.