1I thought about all of those things. I realized that those who are wise and do what is right are under God's control. What they do is also under his control. But a man doesn't know whether God will show favor to him.2Everyone will die someday. Death comes to godly and sinful people alike. It comes to good and bad people alike. It comes to “clean” and “unclean” people alike. Those who offer sacrifices and those who don't offer them also die. A good person dies, and so does a sinner. Those who take oaths die. So do those who are afraid to take them.3Here's what is so bad about everything that happens on this earth. Death catches up with all of us. Also, the hearts of people are full of evil. They live in foolish pleasure. After that, they join those who have already died.4Anyone who is living still has hope. Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!5People who are still alive know they'll die. But those who have died don't know anything. They don't receive any more rewards. And they are soon forgotten.6Their love, hate and jealousy disappear. They will never share again in anything that happens on earth.7Go and enjoy your food. Be joyful as you drink your wine. Now is the time God favors what you do.8Always wear white clothes to show you are happy. Anoint your head with olive oil.9You love your wife. So enjoy life with her. Do it all the days of this meaningless life God has given you on earth. That's what he made you for. That's what you get for all of your hard work on earth.10No matter what you do, work at it with all your might. Remember, you are going to your grave. And there isn't any work or planning or knowledge or wisdom there.11Here's something else I've seen on this earth. Races aren't always won by those who run fast. Battles aren't always won by those who are strong. Wise people don't always have plenty of food. Clever people aren't always wealthy. Those who have learned a lot aren't always favored. God controls the timing of every event. He also controls how things turn out.12A man doesn't know when trouble will come to him. Fish are caught in nets. Birds are taken in traps. And people are trapped by hard times that come when they don't expect them.
Being Wise Is Better Than Being Foolish
13Here's something else I saw on this earth. I saw an example of wisdom that touched me deeply.14There was once a small city. Only a few people lived there. A powerful king attacked it. He brought in war machines all around it.15A certain man lived in that city. He was poor but wise. He used his wisdom to save the city. But no one remembered that poor man.16So I said, “It's better to be wise than to be powerful.” But people looked down on the poor man's wisdom. No one paid any attention to what he said.17People should listen to the quiet words of those who are wise. That's better than paying attention to the shouts of a ruler of foolish people.18Wisdom is better than weapons of war. But one sinner destroys a lot of good.
English Standard Version
Death Comes to All
1But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. (De 33:3; Ec 8:14)2It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. (Job 9:22; Ec 2:14; Zec 5:3; Mal 3:5)3This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. (Ec 1:17; Ec 9:2)4But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.5For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. (Job 14:21; Ps 31:12; Ps 88:5; Ps 88:12; Ec 1:11; Ec 8:10; Isa 26:14)6Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
Enjoy Life with the One You Love
7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. (Ec 2:24)8Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head. (Ps 23:5; Re 3:4)9Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. (Ec 2:10; Ec 6:12; Ec 7:15)10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (Ec 9:5; Ro 12:11; Col 3:23)
Wisdom Better Than Folly
11Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. (1Ki 22:34; 2Ch 20:15; Ec 2:14; Ec 4:1; Ec 4:7; Jer 9:23; Am 2:14; Ro 9:16)12For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them. (Pr 7:23; Pr 29:6; Ec 8:7; Eze 12:13; Ho 7:12; Lu 21:34; 1Th 5:3)13I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me.14There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it.15But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. (2Sa 20:22; Ec 4:13; Ec 9:18)16But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard. (Ec 7:19; Mr 6:2)17The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. (Ec 4:6)18Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. (Jos 7:1; Ec 9:16)