Ecclesiastes 6-12 [Clear Word]
27B. PERSONAL MANAGEMENT
Ecclesiastes 6:1 There is still another terrible thing I've noticed in life that weighs people down. 2 God allows a man to become wealthy, to own property and to be honored so that he has everything his heart desires, but God does not let him live on and on. So his descendants or even strangers end up enjoying the man's money. This is the kind of thing that makes life so meaningless, and it just isn't right. 3 Even if a man has a hundred children and lives many, many years, he will eventually die and be buried and won't be around to enjoy the fruits of his labor. A man may be poor all his life, then die and be buried. In one sense it's almost better not to be born because there's nothing that lasts. It's all so useless. 4 A baby who dies at birth is in one way better off. It's like coming out of the dark and going back into the dark. The baby is born and then it's gone. 5 A baby who dies at birth, who never sees the sun or learns what life is all about, in one way is better off. 6 Even if a man lived a thousand years or twice that long and eventually died, he would still have to leave his thousand years of earnings for others to enjoy. So what good is it? He and the baby who died at birth end up in the same place. 7 All man's efforts are to keep himself going. He works continuously for his food, but he never stops eating. So he has to keep on working. And that's the way it is. 8 Does a wise man have an advantage over a fool? What does a man gain once he's trained himself for life? Nothing really lasts. 9 A man might as well learn to appreciate what he has and what he can see, rather than always longing for something more. It's like chasing the wind. There's nothing in this life that lasts. 10 Everything that happens to a man is already known. There's nothing new. Man is made out of dust and there's nothing he can do about it. How can he contend with something stronger than he is? 11 The more you argue about all this, the more useless your argument becomes, because no one can solve the problem. There is no use arguing with God about it. If you do, you're still no better off. 12 Who really knows what's good for man to do during the few years of life he has? His life is like a passing shadow that moves slowly across the landscape and then disappears. Man can't really plan for the future because he has no way of knowing what will happen after he's gone.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good reputation is better than fine perfume. The end of life is better than the beginning. 2 It's better to visit those who are grieving and to consider the beauty of life than to visit those who are always feasting. Everyone needs to think about what it means to face death. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter because sorrow teaches things that laughter can't. 4 A person who laughs his way through life is a fool. A wise man thinks about the end of his life as well. 5 It's better to have a wise man rebuke you than to have a fool tell you how great you are. 6 When a fool laughs, it's like a crackling fire. It doesn't mean a thing. 7 When a wise man cheats, he's acting like a fool. If he takes a bribe, he pays for it with his reputation. 8 The end of something is better than its beginning because you know where you've been. Patience is better than pride because pride can't be trusted. 9 Don't get upset and let your frustration turn into anger because anger sits in the lap of fools. 10 Don't talk about the good old days because only fools live in the past. 11 Wisdom is like an inheritance; it's only useful to those who receive it. 12 Wisdom is like a shelter in a storm; it gives greater security than money. Wisdom is better than knowledge because it protects those who have it. 13 Stop and think. Who can straighten things out better than God? 14 When things go right, be glad and thank God. When things go wrong, go to God for help. You never know what will go right and what will go wrong. 15 In this life I've noticed two things that are hard to understand: A righteous man suffers and dies before his time, and a wicked man lives a long life of sin. 16 Don't be smugly righteous and don't act like you know it all. 17 Don't be a fool and live a life of sin. Don't overwork and die before your time. 18 Don't go to extremes on anything. Make God the center of your life and you'll be content inside.19 One wise man can do more for a city than ten government agencies. 20 There is no one alive who does everything right. There is no one alive who never makes a mistake. 21 Don't try to listen to everything everyone says. You might hear your own servants saying things about you. 22 Remember that you've also said things about people in public or private that should not have been said. 23 I have tested everything I'm saying and this is what I've decided: Above everything else in life I would choose to be wise, but I finally realized that wisdom is not something you can earn. 24 Whatever wisdom is, it's hard to define and hard to grasp. Where can you go to buy it and how do you make it part of you? 25 I decided to study and research to understand how things work and to learn as much as I could about everything. Maybe then I would be wise. The first thing I discovered was the stupidity of wickedness and the folly of playing with sin. 26 The next thing I discovered was that to be caught by the charms of a scheming woman is worse than death. She can bind a man like a chain. Her love is like a trap in which a man is caught and can't get out. 27 The only way a man can be free from her is to determine to put God first. I found this out little by little as I was looking for answers. 28 I looked for other answers but found none. I found only one man in a thousand who was good and could be trusted, but such women were even harder to find. 29 The one thing I have learned is that God made man to walk uprightly and to live a simple, honest life. But man has made life so complex that in the process he has lost his simplicity and uprightness.
Ecclesiastes 8:1 Who then is wise? Who knows what things really mean? Wisdom makes a man smile, his face shine and his hard look disappear. 2 Listen to your king because you promised God that's what you would do. 3 Don't act as if you're in a hurry when you visit the king. Don't stand for an evil cause, for the king has the authority to do what he likes with you. 4 The king has full authority in the land. No one can challenge him and say, "What are you doing?" 5 As long as you keep the king's laws and are a good citizen, you'll be safe. A wise man knows how and when to carry out the king's command. 6 There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, but we know so little about how to always do things right. 7 No one knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Who can go to the king and tell him what's coming? 8 No one has power to hold on to life to keep himself from dying. There's no winner in this battle of life, and death will not release her prisoners of war. 9 The other things I discovered when I studied life and thought about it all was that when some men have power, many innocent people have to suffer because of it. 10 I have seen wicked men being buried, and on the way back from the funeral people talk about them and their wickedness as if they were heroes. They become legends in the very city where they committed their crimes. This, too, makes no sense. 11 Whenever the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people think of many ways to fight the law and get away with things. 12 Even though a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and gets away with it, things are still better for a good man who respects God and does what is right. 13 Things generally do not go well for the wicked. A criminal usually dies young and his life is gone as quickly as a shadow. 14 Now there's something else that happens in life. Good men sometimes get what the wicked deserve and the wicked sometimes get what the righteous deserve. This, too, doesn't make sense. 15 A man should be happy and enjoy his family, his friends and his food. These things will cheer him on his way through all the days God has given him. 16 When I studied to become wise, I discovered that a man can work at it day and night, lose sleep over it and still not be wise. 17 No matter how hard a man tries, he can never fully understand why things happen the way they do and why God permits certain things and not others. Even a very wise man can't come up with the answers to everything.
Ecclesiastes 9:1 So I concluded that what a man knows and what he does that lasts rests in the hands of God. No one knows what lies ahead or whether love or hate awaits him. 2 The end of life is no different for the righteous or the wicked, the good or the bad, for those who are religious or those who are not, for those who sacrifice for the cause of God and those who don't. When it comes to dying, a good man is no better off than a sinner and a man who keeps his word has no advantage over one who doesn't. 3 The great evil in the world is that the same destiny awaits everyone, the righteous and the wicked alike. Men's hearts are full of evil and devoid of reason, then afterward, they die. 4 But there's one thing in life that doesn't change--that is hope. Even a live dog is better than a dead lion. 5 Yes, the living know that someday they will die, but the dead know nothing. They are no longer rewarded for their work and after a while, no one even remembers them. 6 Their love, hatred, and jealousy are all gone and buried. Never again do they have a part in anything that's going on in this world. 7 So enjoy life with your family and friends. Eat with them and be happy. God designed it that way. 8 Dress in such a way that you look nice; use a little perfume; smile and be happy. 9 Enjoy life with your wife and children, your family and friends as long as you live. Life by itself is a meaningless round of activities, and without some happiness it's not worth living. 10 Whatever you do, give it everything you've got and enjoy it. Once you die, there's no activity, thought, knowledge, or wisdom in the grave where you'll eventually go. 11 There's something else I've noticed about life. The fast runners don't always win the race, and the brave don't always win the battle. Wise men don't always make the right decisions for their families; capable ones don't always rise to the top, and brilliant ones don't always make the most money. Time and chance are factors that affect them all. 12 No one knows when he's going to be faced with evil times or even death. It will happen when he least expects it. It's like birds that are hopping along the ground looking for food but unexpectedly become entangled in a snare, or like schools of swimming fish that are suddenly trapped in a net. 13 There was one thing that happened which greatly impressed me about the power of wisdom. 14 There was a little city with very few people in it, and a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and was ready to break down its walls. 15 In that city lived a poor man who was wise. He saved the city by his wisdom, but after he died, they all forgot about him. 16 When I saw this, I decided that wisdom is better than strength, but no one thinks of a poor man as being wise or having much sense, so no one pays attention to him. 17 It's better to listen to the quiet words of a wise man than to a loudmouthed leader of fools. 18 Wisdom does more good than weapons of war, yet one sinner can cause a lot of damage and undo a lot of good.
Ecclesiastes 10:1 Just as a few dead flies can make a whole bottle of perfume stink, so a little stupidity here and there can spoil a reputation for wisdom and honor. 2 Just as it's natural for a wise man to do the right thing, so it's natural for a fool to do the wrong thing. 3 A fool's lack of common sense is quickly evident, even to those who walk with him along the way. 4 If your leader or ruler becomes angry with you over a mistake you've made, don't get upset and leave your post of duty. Listen quietly to what he has to say, then go back and do your duty, and your mistake will soon be forgotten. 5 I've noticed that there is another injustice in life caused by leaders and rulers. 6 They give stupid people positions of authority that they should never have, while those who have the ability to do the job are passed by and ignored. 7 I have seen servants favored and riding on horses, while princes were stripped of their dignity and made to walk. 8 Whoever digs a pit as a trap for someone else takes the risk of falling into it himself, and he who breaks down stone fences takes the risk of being bitten by a snake. 9 Whoever works in a stone quarry takes a risk of being hurt by falling stones. Whoever works in the woods takes a risk of being hurt by a falling tree.10 If the ax is dull and you don't sharpen it, you'll need more strength to do the same amount of work. So it's wise to think things through before you do them. 11 What good does it do a man to know how to charm a snake if the snake has already bitten him? 12 A wise man speaks graciously and is honored, but a fool destroys himself by his own words. 13 A fool starts out with silly talk and ends up saying things that are pure madness. 14 A fool talks on and on and doesn't know when to stop. No one can know what will happen next, much less a fool. 15 Only a fool overworks himself; he's like a man who doesn't know his way to town. 16 A country is in trouble when its king is very young and when its officials come to work in the morning already thinking about feasting that night. 17 Blessed is that country whose king is mature and whose officials eat for strength and not just for pleasure and to get drunk. 18 When a man is too lazy to fix his roof, it will continue to leak. Eventually the wood will rot and the whole roof will come down on his head. 19 Feasting makes people happy and drinking cheers them up, but you can't do either without money. 20 Don't criticize the king in private or curse the rich in your bedroom, because when you do this, it's as if a bird flying by overhears it and then goes and tells the matter.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 Invest your money wisely; do some good with it when you draw it out, and one day it will come back to you in profit. 2 Invest your money in seven places, or even eight, because you don't know what will fail and what will succeed. 3 If clouds are dark and full of water, there's no doubt that it will rain. Once a tree falls, whether it falls toward the north or the south, it won't move. Only things like these are certain. 4 Whoever waits for perfect weather will never go out and plant. Whoever sees rain in every cloud that comes his way will never go out and reap. 5 Just as you don't know everything about the wind or about a baby in its mother's womb, so you can't know everything about God who makes everything work. 6 Get started on your day's planting in the morning and keep going until evening, because you don't know which plants will do well, whether one kind or another. 7 It feels good to see the light of a new day and enjoy the pleasantness of a sunny afternoon. 8 Let a man be grateful for every year God gives him because no matter how long he lives, he will die, and the years he spends in the grave will be years of inactivity and silence. 9 Young people, enjoy life while you can. Be happy and let your heart bubble over with joy. Follow your heart's desire, but remember that every deed has its consequences, either good or bad, for God will one day judge everything you have done. 10 Don't do things that will hurt you, because you're not young very long. Old age and pain will come soon enough.
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember your Creator while you're still young and can enjoy your youth. The years pass quickly, and soon you'll be old and will say to yourself, "I surely don't enjoy life anymore." 2The days will come when your eyesight will grow dim, and you will see little difference between a bright sunny day and a moonlit night. The stars will fade from your view, and each day the sky will seem overcast and dark, filled with clouds of rain. 3 Your arms that were so strong and quick to protect you will shake and tremble. Your legs will grow weak. Your teeth will be few and it will be hard for you to chew. Your eyes will be looking through half-drawn shutters. 4 Your ears will not pick up the noise on the streets, and you will barely hear the mill as it grinds out the wheat or the music of young girls. You'll no longer hear the sound of birds or wake up in the morning at their singing. 5 You'll be afraid to climb heights and it will be dangerous for you to walk the streets. Your hair will turn as white as the blossoms of an almond tree, and you'll drag yourself along and rest after each step like an old grasshopper rests after each hop. Your desire for everything in life will fail. You'll be heading for your last resting place. People will mourn for you just as they mourned for others before you, and there will be no turning back. 6 The silver chain that holds you to your loved ones will finally break, and the golden lamp of life will go out. The rope on the pulley of life's well will finally snap, and the pitcher full of the water of life will fall and break. 7 Your body will decay and return to dust, and the spark of life which God gave you will go back to Him. 8 Life is futile because nothing lasts. Let the teacher say it again: Life is futile because nothing lasts. 9 When I carefully considered this, I decided that there is nothing more important for me than to be a teacher and pass on to others what I have learned. So I have given serious thought to life and have written out many proverbs. I pray that others will learn from them. 10 I searched diligently for just the right words, and what I wrote was honest and true. 11 The words of wise men are like goads that shepherds use to prod their sheep, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given to them by the Shepherd of Israel. 12 So be careful, my son, about other teachings. There is no end to new books, and too much study will wear out your body. 13 After all is said and done, there is only one thing that really matters: Respect your heavenly Father and do what He says. That's all that matters. God knows what's best for you. His will for us is written out in the Ten Commandments. 14 He will eventually judge everything we have done in this life, including every secret thing, whether it was good or bad.