1I thought about all these 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 no one knows whether they will be loved or hated. 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 make promises die.
So do those who are afraid to make 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 still living 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 even their name is 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. God has already approved 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 your hard work on earth. 10No matter what you do, work at it with all your might. Remember, you are going to the place of the dead. 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 successful.
God controls the timing of every event.
He also controls how things turn out.
12No one knows when trouble will come to them.
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 look down on the poor man’s wisdom. No one pays any attention to what he says.
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.