Everyone faces the same fate
1So I considered all of this carefully, examining all of it: The righteous and the wise and their deeds are in God’s hand, along with both love and hate. People don’t know anything that’s ahead of them. 2Everything is the same for everyone. The same fate awaits the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,#LXX the pure and the impure, those who sacrifice and those who don’t sacrifice. The good person is like the wrongdoer; the same holds for those who make solemn pledges and those who are afraid to swear. 3This is the sad thing about all that happens under the sun: the same fate awaits everyone. Moreover, the human heart is full of evil; people’s minds are full of madness while they are alive, and afterward they die. 4Whoever is among the living can be certain about this. A living dog is definitely better off than a dead lion, 5because the living know that they will die. But the dead know nothing at all. There is no more reward for them; even the memory of them is lost. 6Their love and their hate, as well as their zeal, are already long gone. They will never again have a stake in all that happens under the sun.
7Go, eat your food joyfully and drink your wine happily because God has already accepted what you do. 8Let your garments always be white; don’t run short of oil for your head. 9Enjoy life with your dearly loved spouse all the days of your pointless life that God#Or he or that are given you gives you under the sun—all the days of your pointless life!#This phrase is missing in some LXX sources, Syr, and Tg.—because that’s your part to play#Or portion in this life and in your hard work under the sun. 10Whatever you are capable of doing, do with all your might because there’s no work, thought, knowledge, or wisdom in the grave,#Or underworld; Heb Sheol which is where you are headed.
Listen to common wisdom, not fools
11I also observed under the sun that the race doesn’t always go to the swift, nor the battle to the mighty, nor food to the wise, nor wealth to the intelligent, nor favor to the knowledgeable, because accidents can happen to anyone. 12People most definitely don’t know when their time will come. Like fish tragically caught in a net or like birds trapped in a snare, so are human beings caught in a time of tragedy that suddenly falls to them.
13I also observed the following example of wisdom under the sun—it impressed me greatly: 14There was a small town with only a few residents. A mighty king came against it, surrounded it, and waged a terrible war against it. 15Now there lived in that town a poor but wise man who saved everyone by his wisdom. But no one remembered that poor man. 16So I thought, Wisdom is better than might, but the wisdom of commoners is despised and their words aren’t heeded.
17The calm words of the wise are better heeded than the racket caused by a ruler among fools.
18Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one incompetent person destroys much good.