A A A A A
Bible Book List

Ecclesiastes 9 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

One Day at a Time

I thought about these things. Then I understood that God has power over everyone, even those of us who are wise and live right. Anything can happen to any of us, and so we never know if life will be good or bad.[a] But exactly[b] the same thing will finally happen to all of us, whether we live right and respect God or sin and don’t respect God. Yes, the same thing will happen if we offer sacrifices to God or if we don’t, if we keep our promises or break them.

It’s terribly unfair for the same thing to happen to each of us. We are mean and foolish while we live, and then we die. As long as we are alive, we still have hope, just as a live dog is better off than a dead lion. We know that we will die, but the dead don’t know a thing. Nothing good will happen to them—they are gone and forgotten. Their loves, their hates, and their jealous feelings have all disappeared with them. They will never again take part in anything that happens on this earth.

Be happy and enjoy eating and drinking! God decided long ago that this is what you should do. Dress up, comb your hair, and look your best. Life is short, and you love your wife, so enjoy being with her. This is what you are supposed to do as you struggle through life on this earth. 10 Work hard at whatever you do. You will soon go to the world of the dead, where no one works or thinks or reasons or knows anything.

11 Here is something else I have learned:

The fastest runners
    and the greatest heroes
don’t always win races
    and battles.
Wisdom, intelligence, and skill
don’t always make you healthy,
    rich, or popular.
We each have our share
    of bad luck.

12 None of us know when we might fall victim to a sudden disaster and find ourselves like fish in a net or birds in a trap.

Better To Be Wise than Foolish

13 Once I saw what people really think of wisdom. 14 It happened when a powerful ruler surrounded and attacked a small city where only a few people lived. The enemy army was getting ready to break through the city walls. 15 But the city was saved by the wisdom of a poor person who was soon forgotten. 16 So I decided that wisdom is better than strength. Yet if you are poor, no one pays any attention to you, no matter how smart you are.

17 Words of wisdom spoken softly
    make much more sense
than the shouts of a ruler
    to a crowd of fools.
18 Wisdom is more powerful
    than weapons,
yet one mistake can destroy
    all the good you have done.

Footnotes:

  1. 9.1 or bad: Three ancient translations; the Hebrew text does not have these words.
  2. 9.2 exactly: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Ecclesiastes 9 New International Version (NIV)

A Common Destiny for All

So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,[a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

As it is with the good,
    so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
    so with those who are afraid to take them.

This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope[b]—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

For the living know that they will die,
    but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
    and even their name is forgotten.
Their love, their hate
    and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
    in anything that happens under the sun.

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

11 I have seen something else under the sun:

The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
    or wealth to the brilliant
    or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:

As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

13 I also saw under the sun this example of wisdom that greatly impressed me: 14 There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. 15 Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
    but one sinner destroys much good.

Footnotes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 9:2 Septuagint (Aquila), Vulgate and Syriac; Hebrew does not have and the bad.
  2. Ecclesiastes 9:4 Or What then is to be chosen? With all who live, there is hope
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.

Viewing of
Cross references
Footnotes