Wisdom for Life
1A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.
And the day you die is better than the day you are born.
2Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
After all, everyone dies—
so the living should take this to heart.
3Sorrow is better than laughter,
for sadness has a refining influence on us.
4A wise person thinks a lot about death,
while a fool thinks only about having a good time.
5Better to be criticized by a wise person
than to be praised by a fool.
6A fool’s laughter is quickly gone,
like thorns crackling in a fire.
This also is meaningless.
7Extortion turns wise people into fools,
and bribes corrupt the heart.
8Finishing is better than starting.
Patience is better than pride.
9Control your temper,
for anger labels you a fool.
10Don’t long for “the good old days.”
This is not wise.
11Wisdom is even better when you have money.
Both are a benefit as you go through life.
12Wisdom and money can get you almost anything,
but only wisdom can save your life.
13Accept the way God does things,
for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
14Enjoy prosperity while you can,
but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God.
Remember that nothing is certain in this life.
The Limits of Human Wisdom
15I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people. 16So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? 17On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time? 18Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes.*7:18 Or will follow them both.
19One wise person is stronger than ten leading citizens of a town!
20Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.
21Don’t eavesdrop on others—you may hear your servant curse you. 22For you know how often you yourself have cursed others.
23I have always tried my best to let wisdom guide my thoughts and actions. I said to myself, “I am determined to be wise.” But it didn’t work. 24Wisdom is always distant and difficult to find. 25I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things. I was determined to prove to myself that wickedness is stupid and that foolishness is madness.
26I discovered that a seductive woman*7:26 Hebrew a woman. is a trap more bitter than death. Her passion is a snare, and her soft hands are chains. Those who are pleasing to God will escape her, but sinners will be caught in her snare.
27“This is my conclusion,” says the Teacher. “I discovered this after looking at the matter from every possible angle. 28Though I have searched repeatedly, I have not found what I was looking for. Only one out of a thousand men is virtuous, but not one woman! 29But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.”