Ecclesiastes 7–9

1 A good name is better than precious ointment,

and the day of death than the day of birth.

2 It is better to go to a house of mourning

than to go to a house of feasting,

for this is the end of all mankind;

and the living will lay it to heart.

3 Grief is better than laughter,

for with a downcast face the heart considers the good.

4 The heart of those who are wise is in the house of mourning,

but the heart of those who are foolish in the house of feasting.

5 It is better to hear the rebuke from a wise man

than a man listen to the song of fools.

6 For like the crackling sound of thorns under a pot,

so is the mocking laughter of fools.

And this is also vanity.

7 For oppression brings confusion to the wise man,

and a bribe destroys a man’s heart.

8 The end of a matter is better than the beginning of it,

and the patient in spirit than the haughty in spirit.

9 Do not be quick in your spirit to be angry,

for irritation settles in the bosom of fools.

10 Do not say, “Why were the earlier days better than these days?”

For it is not from wisdom that you inquire this.

11 Wisdom is good with an inheritance,

and an advantage to those who see the sun.

12 For the protection of wisdom

is like the protection of money,

and the advantage of knowledge is

that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.

13 Consider the work of God:

Who is able to make straight

what He has made crooked?

14 In the day of prosperity be joyful,

but in the day of distress consider:

God has made the one

as well as the other.

For this reason man will not be able to understand

anything that comes after him.

15 I have seen everything in my days of vanity:

There is the righteous man who dies in his righteousness,

and there is the wicked man who extends his life of evil.

16 Do not be excessively righteous,

and do not be extremely wise;

why should you destroy yourself?

17 Do not be overly wicked,

and do not be a fool;

why should you die before your time?

18 It is good that you should take hold of this,

and from the other not withhold your hand;

for he who fears God will come out from them all.

19 Wisdom strengthens the wise man

more than ten rulers who are in the city.

20 For there is not a righteous man on earth

who only does good and refrains from sin.

21 Do not give heed to everything people say,

lest you hear your servant cursing you.

22 Your heart knows

that many times you have spoken a curse against others.

23 All this I have tested by wisdom. I said,

“I will be wise,”

but it was far from me.

24 That which is, is far off,

and exceedingly deep.

Who can find it out?

25 And I turned my heart to know,

and seek and search out wisdom in how things are

and to experience wicked folly,

even foolishness and madness.

26 I find more bitter than death

the woman whose heart is snares and nets,

and whose hands are fetters.

He who pleases God escapes her,

but the sinner is taken by her.

27 “See, this is what I found,” says the Preacher,

“adding one thing to another to find the sum,

28 which my soul still seeks

but I do not find:

One man among a thousand I have found,

but a woman among all these I have not found.

29 See, this only have I found:

that God made man upright,

but they have sought out many schemes.”

Chapter 8

1 Who is like a wise man?

And who knows the interpretation of a matter?

A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,

and the harshness of his face is softened.

2 I say, “Keep the king’s command, because of your oath to God. 3 Do not be hasty to leave his presence. Do not take a stand in an unpleasant matter, for he does whatever pleases him.” 4 For the word of the king is powerful, and who would say to him, “What are you doing?”

5 He who keeps his command will know no evil thing;

and a wise heart will know the appropriate time and just way.

6 For to every matter there is an appropriate time and just way,

though a man’s distress weighs heavily on him.

7 For he does not know what will happen;

for who can declare to him what will occur?

8 There is not a man with mastery over the wind to restrain it,

nor with power over the day of death.

And no one can discharge a battle,

nor can wickedness rescue the one possessing it.

9 All this I saw while applying my heart to every work that is done under the sun, when one man rules over another to the other’s hurt. 10 Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place, and they were praised in the city where they did works. This is also vanity.

11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed swiftly, the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil. 12 Since one who sins may do evil a hundred times and extend his life, I also have experienced that it will be good for those who fear God when they have reverence before Him. 13 But it will not be well for the wicked, and he will not prolong his days, like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

14 There is a vanity that takes place on the earth that there are righteous men who are treated according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked men who are treated according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15 And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun than to eat and drink and be joyful; for this will go with him in his labor all the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

16 When I set my heart to know wisdom and to experience the affairs that are done on earth, though day and night there is no sleep for one’s eyes, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot comprehend the work that is done under the sun. Inasmuch as a man labors to seek, he will not understand. Even if a wise man claims to know, he cannot grasp it.

Chapter 9

1 For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the deeds of the righteous and the wise are in the hand of God. No man knows whether love or hate awaits them; both are before him. 2 The same fate comes to all: There is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the evil, for the clean and the unclean, for him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice.

As is the good,

so is the sinner;

he who takes an oath

as he who fears an oath.

3 And this is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that the same event happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are filled with evil, and folly is in their hearts while they have life, and after that they go to the dead. 4 But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

5 The living know that they will die,

but the dead know nothing;

they have no more reward,

for the memory of them is forgotten.

6 What they loved, hated,

and envied has already perished;

and there is no reward for them from long ago

in everything that is done under the sun.

7 Go and eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a pleasant heart; for God is already pleased with your deeds. 8 At all times may your clothing be white, and let not oil ever lack on your head. 9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun; because that is your reward in life and in your toil because you have labored under the sun. 10 Whatever your hands find to do, do with your strength; for there is no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, the place where you are going.

11 Again I saw under the sun that—

the race is not to the swift,

nor the battle to the strong,

nor food to the wise,

nor riches to the intelligent,

nor favor to those with knowledge;

but time and chance happen to them all.

12 For man does not know his time:

Like fish caught in an unfortunate net,

like birds caught in a snare,

so the sons of men are ensnared at a tragic, yet appointed time,

when it suddenly falls on them.

13 I have also seen this wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me: 14 There was a small city with a few men in it; and a great king came and surrounded it, and he built up great siege works against it. 15 But a poor, wise man was found there, and he himself in his wisdom delivered the city, but no one remembered that poor man. 16 Then I said, “Wisdom is better than strength; yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.”

17 The words of the wise heard in quietness are better

than the shouting of a ruler among fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,

but only one sinner can destroy much that is good.

2 Corinthians 13

1 This is the third time I am coming to you. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” 2 I told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time. And being absent now, I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the others, that if I come again, I will not spare anyone, 3 since you seek proof of Christ speaking through me, who toward you is not weak, but is mighty in you. 4 For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. So also we are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God serving you.

5 Examine yourselves, seeing whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not know that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 6 I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 7 Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do that which is honorable, whether or not we may seem disqualified. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak, and you are strong. We wish even your perfection. 10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should be sharp, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.

11 Finally, brothers, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, and live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.

12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.