1How wonderful to be wise,
to analyze and interpret things.
Wisdom lights up a person’s face,
softening its harshness.
Obedience to the King
2Obey the king since you vowed to God that you would. 3Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t stand with those who plot evil, for the king can do whatever he wants. 4His command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it. 5Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, 6for there is a time and a way for everything, even when a person is in trouble.
7Indeed, how can people avoid what they don’t know is going to happen? 8None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle. And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue the wicked.
The Wicked and the Righteous
9I have thought deeply about all that goes on here under the sun, where people have the power to hurt each other. 10I have seen wicked people buried with honor. Yet they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are now praised*8:10 As in some Hebrew manuscripts and Greek version; many Hebrew manuscripts read and are forgotten. in the same city where they committed their crimes! This, too, is meaningless. 11When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong. 12But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. 13The wicked will not prosper, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows.
14And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!
15So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.
16In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. 17I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim.