1 WHO IS like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his countenance is changed.
2 I counsel you to keep the king's command, and that in regard to the oath of God [by which you swore to him loyalty]. [II Sam. 21:7.]
3 Be not panic-stricken and hasty to get out of his presence. Persist not in an evil thing, for he does whatever he pleases.
4 For the word of a king is authority and power, and who can say to him, What are you doing?
5 Whoever observes the [king's] command will experience no harm, and a wise man's mind will know both when and what to do.
6 For every purpose and matter has its [right] time and judgment, although the misery and wickedness of man lies heavily upon him [who rebels against the king].
7 For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how and when it will be?
8 There is no man who has power over the spirit to retain the breath of life, neither has he power over the day of death; and there is no discharge in battle [against death], neither will wickedness deliver those who are its possessors and given to it.
9 All this have I seen while applying my mind to every work that is done under the sun. There is a time in which one man has power over another to his own hurt or to the other man's.
10 And so I saw the wicked buried–those who had come and gone out of the holy place [but did not thereby escape their doom], and they are [praised and] forgotten in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity (emptiness, falsity, vainglory, and futility)!
11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set to do evil.
12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his days [seemingly] are prolonged [in his wickedness], yet surely I know that it will be well with those who [reverently] fear God, who revere and worship Him, realizing His continual presence. [Ps. 37:11, 18, 19; Isa. 3:10, 11; Matt. 25:34.]
13 But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not [reverently] fear and worship God. [Matt. 25:41.]
14 Here also is a futility that goes on upon the earth: there are righteous men who fare as though they were wicked, and wicked men who fare as though they were righteous. I say that this also is vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility)!
15 Then I commended enjoyment, because a man has no better thing under the sun [without God] than to eat and to drink and to be joyful, for that will remain with him in his toil through the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.
16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to see the business activity and the painful effort that take place upon the earth–how neither day nor night some men's eyes sleep–
17 Then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun–because however much a man may toil in seeking, yet he will not find it out; yes, more than that, though a wise man thinks and claims he knows, yet will he not be able to find it out. [Deut. 29:29; Rom. 11:33.]