Men Are in the Hand of God
1For I have taken all this to heart, exploring and examining it all, how the righteous (those in right standing with God) and the wise and their deeds are in the hands of God. No man knows whether it will be love or hatred; anything awaits him.
2It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; for the man who offers sacrifices and for the one who does not sacrifice. As the good man is, so is the sinner; as he who swears an oath is, so is he who is afraid to swear an oath. 3This evil is in all that is done under the sun, that one fate comes to all. Also, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and afterwards they go to the dead. 4[There is no exemption,] but whoever is joined with all the living, has hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they no longer have a reward [here], for the memory of them is forgotten. 6Indeed their love, their hatred and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share [in this age] in anything that is done under the sun.
7Go your way, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a cheerful heart [if you are righteous, wise, and in the hands of God]; for God has already approved and accepted your works. 8Let your clothes always be white [with purity], and do not let the oil [of gladness] be lacking on your head. 9Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given you under the sun—all the days of vanity and futility. For this is your reward in life and in your work in which you have labored under the sun.
Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do
10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead) where you are going.
11I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the strong, and neither is bread to the wise nor riches to those of intelligence and understanding nor favor to men of ability; but time and chance overtake them all. 12For man also does not know his time [of death]; like fish caught in a treacherous net, and birds caught in the snare, so the sons of men are ensnared in an evil time when a dark cloud suddenly falls on them.
13This [illustration of] wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and great it was to me: 14There was a little city with few men in it and a great king came against it and besieged it and built great battlements against it. 15But there was found in it a poor wise man, and by his wisdom he rescued the city. Yet no man [seriously] remembered that poor man. 16But I say that wisdom is better than strength, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heeded. 17The words of wise men heard in quietness are better than the shouting of one who rules among fools. 18Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.