Ecclesiastes 7 The Message (MSG)
Don’t Take Anything for Granted
7 A good reputation is better than a fat bank account.
2 You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—
3 Crying is better than laughing.
4 Sages invest themselves in hurt and grieving.
5 You’ll get more from the rebuke of a sage
6 The giggles of fools are like the crackling of twigs
7 Brutality stupefies even the wise
8 Endings are better than beginnings.
9 Don’t be quick to fly off the handle.
10 Don’t always be asking, “Where are the good old days?”
11-12 Wisdom is better when it’s paired with money,
13 Take a good look at God’s work.
14 On a good day, enjoy yourself;
Stay in Touch with Both Sides
15-17 I’ve seen it all in my brief and pointless life—here a good person cut down in the middle of doing good, there a bad person living a long life of sheer evil. So don’t knock yourself out being good, and don’t go overboard being wise. Believe me, you won’t get anything out of it. But don’t press your luck by being bad, either. And don’t be reckless. Why die needlessly?
18 It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.
19 Wisdom puts more strength in one wise person
20 There’s not one totally good person on earth,
21-22 Don’t eavesdrop on the conversation of others.
How to Interpret the Meaning of Life
23-25 I tested everything in my search for wisdom. I set out to be wise, but it was beyond me, far beyond me, and deep—oh so deep! Does anyone ever find it? I concentrated with all my might, studying and exploring and seeking wisdom—the meaning of life. I also wanted to identify evil and stupidity, foolishness and craziness.
26-29 One discovery: A woman can be a bitter pill to swallow, full of seductive scheming and grasping. The lucky escape her; the undiscerning get caught. At least this is my experience—what I, the Quester, have pieced together as I’ve tried to make sense of life. But the wisdom I’ve looked for I haven’t found. I didn’t find one man or woman in a thousand worth my while. Yet I did spot one ray of light in this murk: God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.
Ecclesiastes 7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Wisdom and Foolishness Contrasted
7 A good name is better than good [a]oil,
15 I have seen everything during my [m]lifetime of futility; there is a righteous person who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked person who prolongs his life in his wickedness. 16 Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? 17 Do not be excessively wicked, and do not be foolish. Why should you die [n]before your time? 18 It is good that you grasp one thing while not [o]letting go of the other; for one who fears God comes out with [p]both of them.
19 Wisdom strengthens a wise person more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20 Indeed, there is not a righteous person on earth who always does good and does not ever sin. 21 Also, do not [q]take seriously all the words which are spoken, so that you do not hear your servant cursing you, 22 for [r]you know that even you have cursed others many times as well.
23 I tested all this with wisdom, and I said, “I will be wise,” but wisdom was far from me. 24 What has been is remote and very [s]mysterious. Who can discover it? 25 I [t]directed my [u]mind to know and to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explanation, and to know the evil of foolishness and the foolishness of insanity. 26 And I discovered as more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are chains. One who is pleasing to God will escape from her, but the sinner will be captured by her.
27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “by adding one thing to another to find an explanation, 28 which [v]I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among all these. 29 Behold, I have found only this, that God made people upright, but they have sought out many schemes.”
Ecclesiastes 7 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Wisdom and Folly Contrasted
7 A good name is better than precious perfume,
15 I have seen everything during my [fleeting] days of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in [spite of] his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who [a]lives a long life in [spite of] his wickedness. 16 Do not be excessively righteous [like those given to self-conceit], and do not be overly wise (pretentious)—why should you bring yourself to ruin? 17 Do not be excessively or willfully wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you take hold of one thing (righteousness) and also not let go of the other (wisdom); for the one who fears and worships God [with awe-filled reverence] will come forth with both of them.
19 Wisdom strengthens the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city. 20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who always does good and who never sins. 21 Also, do not take seriously everything that is said, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you, 22 for you also know that you too have cursed others many times.
23 I have tested all this with wisdom. I said, “I will be wise [independently of God],” but true wisdom was far from me. 24 Whatever has been is far off, deeply remote and exceedingly mysterious. Who can discover it [for it is beyond the grasp of man]? 25 I turned around and directed my heart to know, to investigate and to seek [skillful and godly] wisdom and the reason for things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness [leading to stupidity and recklessness]. 26 And I discovered that [of all irrational sins none has been so destructive in beguiling one away from God as immoral women for] more bitter than death is the woman whose heart is [composed of] snares and nets, and whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God will escape from her, but the sinner will be taken captive by her [evil].
27 “Behold, I have discovered this,” says the Preacher, “while adding one thing to another to find an explanation, 28 which I am still seeking but have not found. I have found one [b]man among a thousand [who pleases God], but I have not found [such] a woman among all these [a thousand in my harem]. 29 Behold, I have found only this [as a reason]: God made man upright and uncorrupted, but they [both men and women] have sought out many devices [for evil].”
Ecclesiastes 7 New Living Translation (NLT)
Wisdom for Life
7 A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.
5 Better to be criticized by a wise person
7 Extortion turns wise people into fools,
8 Finishing is better than starting.
9 Control your temper,
10 Don’t long for “the good old days.”
11 Wisdom is even better when you have money.
13 Accept the way God does things,
The Limits of Human Wisdom
15 I have seen everything in this meaningless life, including the death of good young people and the long life of wicked people. 16 So don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? 17 On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time? 18 Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes.[a]
19 One wise person is stronger than ten leading citizens of a town!
20 Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.
21 Don’t eavesdrop on others—you may hear your servant curse you. 22 For you know how often you yourself have cursed others.
23 I 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. 24 Wisdom is always distant and difficult to find. 25 I 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.
26 I discovered that a seductive woman[b] 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. 28 Though 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! 29 But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.”
Ecclesiastes 7 New International Version (NIV)
7 A good name is better than fine perfume,
7 Extortion turns a wise person into a fool,
8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing
13 Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:
the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
19 Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
21 Do not pay attention to every word people say,
23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said,
“I am determined to be wise”—
26 I find more bitter than death
27 “Look,” says the Teacher,[b] “this is what I have discovered:
“Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—