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Ecclesiastes 7 The Message (MSG)

Don’t Take Anything for Granted

A good reputation is better than a fat bank account.
Your death date tells more than your birth date.

You learn more at a funeral than at a feast—
After all, that’s where we’ll end up. We might discover
    something from it.

Crying is better than laughing.
It blotches the face but it scours the heart.

Sages invest themselves in hurt and grieving.
Fools waste their lives in fun and games.

You’ll get more from the rebuke of a sage
Than from the song and dance of fools.

The giggles of fools are like the crackling of twigs
Under the cooking pot. And like smoke.

Brutality stupefies even the wise
And destroys the strongest heart.

Endings are better than beginnings.
Sticking to it is better than standing out.

Don’t be quick to fly off the handle.
Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head.

10 Don’t always be asking, “Where are the good old days?”
Wise folks don’t ask questions like that.

11-12 Wisdom is better when it’s paired with money,
Especially if you get both while you’re still living.
Double protection: wisdom and wealth!
Plus this bonus: Wisdom energizes its owner.

13 Take a good look at God’s work.
Who could simplify and reduce Creation’s curves and angles
To a plain straight line?

14 On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.

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
Than ten strong men give to a city.

20 There’s not one totally good person on earth,
Not one who is truly pure and sinless.

21-22 Don’t eavesdrop on the conversation of others.
What if the gossip’s about you and you’d rather not hear it?
You’ve done that a few times, haven’t you—said things
Behind someone’s back you wouldn’t say to his face?

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.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

Ecclesiastes 7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Wisdom and Foolishness Contrasted

A good name is better than good [a]oil,
And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
Than to go to a house of feasting,
Because [b]that is the end of every person,
And the living [c]takes it to [d]heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The [e]mind of the wise is in the house of mourning,
While the [f]mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.
It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise person
Than for one to listen to the song of fools.
For as the [g]crackling of thorn bushes under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool;
And this too is futility.
For oppression makes a wise person look foolish,
And a bribe [h]corrupts the heart.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning;
Patience of spirit is better than arrogance of spirit.
Do not be [i]eager in your spirit to be angry,
For anger resides in the [j]heart of fools.
10 Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.
11 Wisdom along with an inheritance is good,
And an advantage to those who see the sun.
12 For wisdom is [k]protection just as money is [l]protection,
But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom keeps its possessors alive.
13 Consider the work of God,
For who is able to straighten what He has bent?
14 On the day of prosperity be happy,
But on the day of adversity consider:
God has made the one as well as the other
So that a person will not discover anything that will come after him.

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.”

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 7:1 I.e., olive oil
  2. Ecclesiastes 7:2 I.e., death
  3. Ecclesiastes 7:2 Lit gives
  4. Ecclesiastes 7:2 Lit his heart
  5. Ecclesiastes 7:4 Lit heart
  6. Ecclesiastes 7:4 Lit heart
  7. Ecclesiastes 7:6 Lit voice
  8. Ecclesiastes 7:7 Lit destroys
  9. Ecclesiastes 7:9 Lit hasty
  10. Ecclesiastes 7:9 Lit chest
  11. Ecclesiastes 7:12 Lit in a shadow
  12. Ecclesiastes 7:12 Lit in a shadow
  13. Ecclesiastes 7:15 Lit days
  14. Ecclesiastes 7:17 Lit when not your time
  15. Ecclesiastes 7:18 Lit resting your hand
  16. Ecclesiastes 7:18 Lit all of them
  17. Ecclesiastes 7:21 Lit give your heart to
  18. Ecclesiastes 7:22 Lit your heart knows
  19. Ecclesiastes 7:24 Lit deep
  20. Ecclesiastes 7:25 Lit turned about
  21. Ecclesiastes 7:25 Lit heart
  22. Ecclesiastes 7:28 Lit my soul still seeks
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

Ecclesiastes 7 New Living Translation (NLT)

Wisdom for Life

A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume.
    And the day you die is better than the day you are born.
Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
    After all, everyone dies—
    so the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
    for sadness has a refining influence on us.
A wise person thinks a lot about death,
    while a fool thinks only about having a good time.

Better to be criticized by a wise person
    than to be praised by a fool.
A fool’s laughter is quickly gone,
    like thorns crackling in a fire.
    This also is meaningless.

Extortion turns wise people into fools,
    and bribes corrupt the heart.

Finishing is better than starting.
    Patience is better than pride.

Control your temper,
    for anger labels you a fool.

10 Don’t long for “the good old days.”
    This is not wise.

11 Wisdom is even better when you have money.
    Both are a benefit as you go through life.
12 Wisdom and money can get you almost anything,
    but only wisdom can save your life.

13 Accept the way God does things,
    for who can straighten what he has made crooked?
14 Enjoy 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

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.”

Footnotes:

  1. 7:18 Or will follow them both.
  2. 7:26 Hebrew a woman.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Ecclesiastes 7 New International Version (NIV)

Wisdom

A good name is better than fine perfume,
    and the day of death better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
    than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
    the living should take this to heart.
Frustration is better than laughter,
    because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person
    than to listen to the song of fools.
Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
    so is the laughter of fools.
    This too is meaningless.

Extortion turns a wise person into a fool,
    and a bribe corrupts the heart.

The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
    and patience is better than pride.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
    for anger resides in the lap of fools.

10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
    For it is not wise to ask such questions.

11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing
    and benefits those who see the sun.
12 Wisdom is a shelter
    as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
    Wisdom preserves those who have it.

13 Consider what God has done:

Who can straighten
    what he has made crooked?
14 When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
    anything about their future.

15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:

the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
    and the wicked living long in their wickedness.
16 Do not be overrighteous,
    neither be overwise—
    why destroy yourself?
17 Do not be overwicked,
    and do not be a fool—
    why die before your time?
18 It is good to grasp the one
    and not let go of the other.
    Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.[a]

19 Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful
    than ten rulers in a city.

20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
    no one who does what is right and never sins.

21 Do not pay attention to every word people say,
    or you may hear your servant cursing you—
22 for you know in your heart
    that many times you yourself have cursed others.

23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said,

“I am determined to be wise”
    but this was beyond me.
24 Whatever exists is far off and most profound—
    who can discover it?
25 So I turned my mind to understand,
    to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness
    and the madness of folly.

26 I find more bitter than death
    the woman who is a snare,
whose heart is a trap
    and whose hands are chains.
The man who pleases God will escape her,
    but the sinner she will ensnare.

27 “Look,” says the Teacher,[b] “this is what I have discovered:

“Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things—
28     while I was still searching
    but not finding—
I found one upright man among a thousand,
    but not one upright woman among them all.
29 This only have I found:
    God created mankind upright,
    but they have gone in search of many schemes.”

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 7:18 Or will follow them both
  2. Ecclesiastes 7:27 Or the leader of the assembly
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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