1 Who is really wise? Who knows how to explain things? Wisdom makes one’s face shine, and it changes one’s grim look.
The Power of Kings Versus the Power of Death
2 I ⌊advise⌋ you to obey the king’s commands because of the oath you took in God’s presence. 3 Don’t be in a hurry to leave the king’s service. Don’t take part in something evil, because he can do whatever he pleases. 4 Since a king’s word has such power, no one can ask him what he is doing. 5 Whoever obeys his commands will avoid trouble. The mind of a wise person will know the right time and the right way ⌊to act⌋. 6 There is a right time and a right way ⌊to act⌋ in every situation. Yet, a terrible human tragedy hangs over people.
7 They don’t know what the future will bring. So who can tell them how things will turn out? 8 No one has the power to prevent the spirit #Or “breath.” of life from leaving. No one has control over the day of his own death. There is no way to avoid the war ⌊against death⌋. Wickedness will not save wicked people ⌊from dying⌋.
Life Is Unfair
9 I have seen all of this, and I have carefully considered all that is done under the sun whenever one person has authority to hurt others. 10 Then I saw wicked people given an ⌊honorable⌋ burial. They used to go in and out of the holy place. They were praised in the city for doing such things. Even this is pointless.
The Need for Swift Justice
11 When a sentence against a crime isn’t carried out quickly, people are encouraged to commit crimes. 12 A sinner may commit a hundred crimes and yet live a long life. Still, I know with certainty that it will go well for those who fear God, because they fear him. 13 But it will not go well for the wicked. They will not live any longer. Their lives are like shadows, because they don’t fear God.
14 There is something being done on earth that is pointless. Righteous people suffer for what the wicked do, and wicked people get what the righteous deserve. I say that even this is pointless.
15 So I recommend the enjoyment ⌊of life⌋. People have nothing better to do under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy themselves. This joy will stay with them while they work hard during their brief lives which God has given them under the sun.
16 When I carefully considered how to study wisdom and how to look at the work that is done on earth (even going without sleep day and night), 17 then I saw everything that God has done. No one is able to grasp the work that is done under the sun. However hard a person may search for it, he will not find ⌊its meaning⌋. Even though a wise person claims to know, he is not able to grasp it.