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Ecclesiastes 1 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Everything is Futile

The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem.

“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.
“Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
What does a man gain for all his efforts
that he labors at under the sun?
A generation goes and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets;
panting, it returns to its place
where it rises.
Gusting to the south,
turning to the north,
turning, turning, goes the wind,
and the wind returns in its cycles.
All the streams flow to the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
The streams are flowing to the place,
and they flow there again.
All things[b] are wearisome;
man is unable to speak.
The eye is not satisfied by seeing
or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Can one say about anything,
“Look, this is new”?
It has already existed in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of those who[c] came before;
and of those who[d] will come after
there will also be no remembrance
by those who follow them.

The Limitations of Wisdom

12 I, the Teacher, have been[e] king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to seek and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people this miserable task to keep them occupied. 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind.[f]

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself,[g] “Look, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has thoroughly grasped[h] wisdom and knowledge.” 17 I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind.[i]

18 For with much wisdom is much sorrow;
as knowledge increases, grief increases.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or of Qoheleth, or of the Leader of the Assembly
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:8 Or words
  3. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Or of the things that
  4. Ecclesiastes 1:11 Or of the things that
  5. Ecclesiastes 1:12 Or Teacher, was
  6. Ecclesiastes 1:14 Or a feeding on wind, or an affliction of spirit
  7. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Lit said with my heart
  8. Ecclesiastes 1:16 Or discerned
  9. Ecclesiastes 1:17 Or a feeding on wind, or an affliction of spirit

Ecclesiastes 1 New International Version (NIV)

Everything Is Meaningless

The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
    what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12
New International Version (NIV)

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