August 23 – Ecclesiastes 6 thru 8 from the Old Testament

Ecclesiastes 6 thru 8 – Not Everyone Enjoys Life

6:1 Here is another misfortune that I have seen on earth,

and it weighs heavily on people:

6:2 God gives a man riches, property, and wealth

so that he lacks nothing that his heart desires,

yet God does not enable him to enjoy the fruit of his labor –

instead, someone else enjoys it!

This is fruitless and a grave misfortune.

6:3 Even if a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years –

even if he lives a long, long time, but cannot enjoy his prosperity –

even if he were to live forever –  

I would say, “A stillborn child is better off than he is!”

6:4 Though the stillborn child came into the world for no reason and departed into darkness,

though its name is shrouded in darkness,

6:5 though it never saw the light of day nor knew anything,

yet it has more rest than that man –

6:6 if he should live a thousand years twice, yet does not enjoy his prosperity.

For both of them die!

6:7 All of man’s labor is for nothing more than to fill his stomach –

yet his appetite is never satisfied!

6:8 So what advantage does a wise man have over a fool?

And what advantage does a pauper gain by knowing how to survive?

6:9 It is better to be content with what the eyes can see

than for one’s heart always to crave more.

This continual longing is futile – like chasing the wind.

The Futile Way Life Works

6:10 Whatever has happened was foreordained,

and what happens to a person was also foreknown.

It is useless for him to argue with God about his fate

because God is more powerful than he is.

6:11 The more one argues with words, the less he accomplishes.

How does that benefit him?

6:12 For no one knows what is best for a person during his life –

during the few days of his fleeting life –  

for they pass away like a shadow.

Nor can anyone tell him what the future will hold for him on earth.

Life is Brief and Death is Certain!

7:1 A good reputation is better than precious perfume;

likewise, the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.

7:2 It is better to go to a funeral

than a feast.

For death is the destiny of every person,

and the living should take this to heart.

7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter,

because sober reflection is good for the heart.

7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,

but the heart of fools is in thehouse of merrymaking.

Frivolous Living Versus Wisdom

7:5 It is better for a person to receive a rebuke from those who are wise

than to listen to the song of fools.

7:6 For like the crackling of quick-burning thorns under a cooking pot,

so is the laughter of the fool.

This kind of folly also is useless.

Human Wisdom Overturned by Adversity

7:7 Surely oppression can turn a wise person into a fool;

likewise, a bribe corrupts the heart.

7:8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning;

likewise, patience is better than pride.

7:9 Do not let yourself be quickly provoked,

for anger resides in the lap of fools.

7:10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?”

for it is not wise to ask that.

Wisdom Can Lengthen One’s Life

7:11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing;

it benefits those who see the light of day.

7:12 For wisdom provides protection,

just as money provides protection.

But the advantage of knowledge is this:

Wisdom preserves the life of its owner.

Wisdom Acknowledges God’s Orchestration of Life

7:13 Consider the work of God:

For who can make straight what he has bent?

7:14 In times of prosperity be joyful,

but in times of adversity consider this:

God has made one as well as the other,

so that no one can discover what the future holds.

Exceptions to the Law of Retribution

7:15 During the days of my fleeting life I have seen both of these things:

Sometimes a righteous person dies prematurely in spite of his righteousness,

and sometimes a wicked person lives long in spite of his evil deeds.

7:16 So do not be excessively righteous or excessively wise;

otherwise you might be disappointed.

7:17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool;

otherwise you might die before your time.

7:18 It is best to take hold of one warning without letting go of the other warning;

for the one who fears God will follow both warnings.

Wisdom Needed Because No One is Truly Righteous

7:19 Wisdom gives a wise person more protection

than ten rulers in a city.

7:20 For there is not one truly righteous person on the earth

who continually does good and never sins.

7:21 Also, do not pay attention to everything that people say;

otherwise, you might even hear your servant cursing you.

7:22 For you know in your own heart

that you also have cursed others many times.

Human Wisdom is Limited

7:23 I have examined all this by wisdom;

I said, “I am determined to comprehend this” – but it was beyond my grasp.

7:24 Whatever has happened is beyond human understanding;

it is far deeper than anyone can fathom.

True Righteousness and Wisdom are Virtually Nonexistent

7:25 I tried to understand, examine, and comprehend

the role of wisdom in the scheme of things,

and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the insanity of folly.

7:26 I discovered this:

More bitter than death is the kind of woman who is like a hunter’s snare;

her heart is like a hunter’s net and her hands are like prison chains.

The man who pleases God escapes her,

but the sinner is captured by her.

7:27 The Teacher says:

I discovered this while trying to discover the scheme of things, item by item.

7:28 What I have continually sought, I have not found;

I have found only one upright man among a thousand,

but I have not found one upright woman among all of them.

7:29 This alone have I discovered: God made humankind upright,

but they have sought many evil schemes.

Human Government Demonstrates Limitations of Wisdom

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.

8:2 Obey the king’s command,

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

8:3 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.

8:4 Surely the king’s authority is absolute;

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

8:5 Whoever obeys his command will not experience harm,

and a wise person knows the proper time and procedure.

8:6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter,

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

8:7 Surely no one knows the future,

and no one can tell another person what will happen.

8:8 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.

8:9 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.

Contradictions to the Law of Retribution

8:10 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.

8:11 When a sentence is not executed at once against a crime,

the human heart is encouraged to do evil.

8:12 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.

8:13 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.

8:14 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.”

Enjoy Life In Spite of Its Injustices

8:15 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 which God gives him on earth.

Limitations of Human Wisdom

8:16 When I tried to gain wisdom

and to observe the activity on earth –

even though it prevents anyone from sleeping day or night –

8:17 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.

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