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25 I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I was determined to prove to myself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness.
26 I discovered that a seductive woman is more bitter than death. Her passion is a trap, and her soft hands will bind you. Those who please God will escape from her, but sinners will be caught in her snare.
27 "This is my conclusion," says the Teacher. "I came to this result after looking into the matter from every possible angle.
28 Just one out of every thousand men I interviewed can be said to be upright, but not one woman!
29 I discovered that God created people to be upright, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path."



Ecclesiastes 8



8:1 How wonderful to be wise, to be able to analyze and interpret things. Wisdom lights up a person's face, softening its hardness.



Obedience to the King



2 Obey the king because you have vowed before God to do this.
3 Don't try to avoid doing your duty, and don't take a stand with those who plot evil. For the king will punish those who disobey him.
4 The king's command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it.
5 Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right.
6 Yes, there is a time and a way for everything, even as people's troubles lie heavily upon them.
7 Indeed, how can people avoid what they don't know is going to happen?
8 None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle. And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue those who practice it.


The Wicked and the Righteous



9 I have thought deeply about all that goes on here in the world, where people have the power to hurt each other.
10 I have seen wicked people buried with honor. How strange that they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are praised in the very city where they committed their crimes!
11 When a crime is not punished, people feel it is safe to do wrong.
12 But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off.
13 The wicked will never live long, good lives, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows.
14 And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!
15 So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them.
16 In my search for wisdom, I tried to observe everything that goes on all across the earth. I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night.
17 This reminded me that no one can discover everything God has created in our world, no matter how hard they work at it. Not even the wisest people know everything, even if they say they do.



Ecclesiastes 9



9:1 Death Comes to All



This, too, I carefully explored: Even though the actions of godly and wise people are in God's hands, no one knows whether or not God will show them favor in this life.
2 The same destiny ultimately awaits everyone, whether they are righteous or wicked, good or bad, ceremonially clean or unclean, religious or irreligious. Good people receive the same treatment as sinners, and people who take oaths are treated like people who don't.
3 It seems so tragic that one fate comes to all. That is why people are not more careful to be good. Instead, they choose their own mad course, for they have no hope. There is nothing ahead but death anyway.
4 There is hope only for the living. For as they say, "It is better to be a live dog than a dead lion!"
5 The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered.
6 Whatever they did in their lifetime loving, hating, envying is all long gone. They no longer have a part in anything here on earth.
7 So go ahead. Eat your food and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!
8 Wear fine clothes, with a dash of cologne!
9 Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you in this world. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.
10 Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.
11 I have observed something else in this world of ours. The fastest runner doesn't always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn't always win the battle. The wise are often poor, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don't always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being at the right place at the right time.
12 People can never predict when hard times might come. Like fish in a net or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy.


Thoughts on Wisdom and Folly



13 Here is another bit of wisdom that has impressed me as I have watched the way our world works.
14 There was a small town with only a few people living in it, and a great king came with his army and besieged it.
15 There was a poor, wise man living there who knew how to save the town, and so it was rescued. But afterward no one thought any more about him.
16 Then I realized that though wisdom is better than strength, those who are wise will be despised if they are poor. What they say will not be appreciated for long.
17 But even so, the quiet words of a wise person are better than the shouts of a foolish king.
18 A wise person can overcome weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good.



Ecclesiastes 10



10:1 Dead flies will cause even a bottle of perfume to stink! Yes, an ounce of foolishness can outweigh a pound of wisdom and honor.
2 The hearts of the wise lead them to do right, and the hearts of the foolish lead them to do evil.
3 You can identify fools just by the way they walk down the street!
4 If your boss is angry with you, don't quit! A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes.
5 There is another evil I have seen as I have watched the world go by. Kings and rulers make a grave mistake
6 if they give foolish people great authority, and if they fail to give people of proven worth their rightful place of dignity.
7 I have even seen servants riding like princes and princes walking like servants.
8 When you dig a well, you may fall in. When you demolish an old wall, you could be bitten by a snake.
9 When you work in a quarry, stones might fall and crush you! When you chop wood, there is danger with each stroke of your ax! Such are the risks of life.
10 Since a dull ax requires great strength, sharpen the blade. That's the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.
11 It does no good to charm a snake after it has bitten you.
12 It is pleasant to listen to wise words, but the speech of fools brings them to ruin.
13 Since fools base their thoughts on foolish premises, their conclusions will be wicked madness.
14 Foolish people claim to know all about the future and tell everyone the details! But who can really know what is going to happen?
15 Fools are so exhausted by a little work that they have no strength for even the simplest tasks.
16 Destruction is certain for the land whose king is a child and whose leaders feast in the morning.
17 Happy is the land whose king is a nobleman and whose leaders feast only to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk.
18 Laziness lets the roof leak, and soon the rafters begin to rot.
19 A party gives laughter, and wine gives happiness, and money gives everything!
20 Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts. And don't make fun of a rich man, either. A little bird may tell them what you have said.



Ecclesiastes 11



11:1 Generosity and Diligence



Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.
2 Divide your gifts among many, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.
3 When the clouds are heavy, the rains come down.
When a tree falls, whether south or north, there it lies.
4 If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.
5 God's ways are as hard to discern as the pathways of the wind, and as mysterious as a tiny baby being formed in a mother's womb.
6 Be sure to stay busy and plant a variety of crops, for you never know which will grow perhaps they all will.


Advice for Old and Young



7 Light is sweet; it's wonderful to see the sun!
8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember that the dark days will be many. Everything still to come is meaningless.



































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