1 FOR ALL this I took to heart, exploring and examining it all, how the righteous (the upright, in right standing with God) and the wise and their works are in the hands of God. Whether it is to be love or hatred no man knows; all that is before them.
2 All things come alike to all. There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked, to the good and to the clean and to the unclean; to him who sacrifices and to him who does not sacrifice. As is the good man, so is the sinner; and he who swears is as he who fears and shuns an oath.
3 This evil is in all that is done under the sun: one fate comes to all. Also the hearts of men are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
4 [There is no exemption] but he who is joined to all the living has hope–for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; and they have no more reward [here], for the memory of them is forgotten.
6 Their love and their hatred and their envy have already perished; neither have they any more a share in anything that is done under the sun.
7 Go 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 accepted your works.
8 Let your garments be always white [with purity], and let your head not lack [the] oil [of gladness].
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun–all the days of futility. For that is your portion in this life and in your work at which you toil under the sun.
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the place of the dead), where you are going.
11 I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither is bread to the wise nor riches to men of intelligence and understanding nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. [Ps. 33:16-19; Rom. 9:16.]
12 For man also knows not his time [of death]: as the fishes are taken in an evil net, and as the birds are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time when [calamity] falls suddenly upon them.
13 This [illustration of] wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great to me:
14 There was a little city with few men in it. And a great king came against it and besieged it and built great bulwarks against it.
15 But there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no man [seriously] remembered that poor man.
16 But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man's wisdom is despised and his words are not heeded.
17 The words of wise men heard in quiet are better than the shouts of him who rules among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.