Ecclesiastes 1-4; Psalms 8 - Prayer Tents



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Ecclesiastes 1-4; Psalms 8
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One Story That Leads to Jesus, Day 163 Help Icon


The Book of Ecclesiastes
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Bible Project
1These are the words of the Teacherc, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.H1697H6953H1121H1732H4428H3389

Everything Is Meaningless

2“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”H1892H1892H559H6953H1892H1892H18923What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?H3504H120H5999H5998H81214Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.H1755H1980H1755H935H935H776H5975H57695The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again.H8121H2224H8121H935H7602H4725H22246The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles.H7307H1980H1864H5437H6828H1980H7307H7725H54397Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea.H5158H1980H3220H3220H4392H4725H5158H1980H7725H32128Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.H1697H3023H376H3201H1696H5869H7646H7200H241H4390H80859History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.H6213H6213H2319H812110Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.H3426H1697H559H7200H2319H3528H5769H644011We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.H2146H7223H2146H314H314

The Teacher Speaks: The Futility of Wisdom

12I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem.H6953H4428H3478H338913I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.H5414H3820H1875H8446H2451H6213H8064H7451H6045H430H5414H1121H120H603114I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.H7200H4639H6213H8121H1892H7469H730715What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.H5791H3201H8626H2642H3201H448716I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.”H1696H3820H559H1431H3254H2451H6440H3389H3820H7235H7200H2451H184717So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.H5414H3820H3045H2451H3045H1947H5531H3045H1571H7475H730718The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.H7230H2451H7230H3708H3254H1847H3254H4341

The Futility of Pleasure

2I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless.H559H3820H3212H5254H8057H7200H2896H18922So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?”H559H7814H1984H8057H2090H62133After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.H8446H3820H4900H1320H3196H5090H3820H2451H270H5531H7200H2896H1121H120H6213H8064H4557H3117H24164I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.H1431H4639H1129H1004H5193H37545I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees.H6213H1593H6508H5193H6086H65296I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves.H6213H1295H4325H8248H3293H6779H60867I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me.H7069H5650H8198H1121H1004H7235H4735H1241H6629H3389H64408I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!H3664H3701H2091H5459H4428H4082H6213H7891H7891H8588H1121H120H7705H77059So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.H1431H3254H6440H3389H2451H597510Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors.H5869H7592H680H4513H3820H8057H3820H8056H5999H2506H599911But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.H6437H4639H3027H6213H5999H5998H6213H1892H7469H7307H3504H8121

The Wise and the Foolish

12So I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and madness (for who can do this better than I, the king?c).H6437H7200H2451H1947H5531H120H935H310H4428H3528H621313I thought, “Wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness.H7200H3426H2451H3504H5531H216H3504H282214For the wise can see where they are going, but fools walk in the dark.” Yet I saw that the wise and the foolish share the same fate.H2450H5869H7218H3684H1980H2822H3045H259H4745H713615Both will die. So I said to myself, “Since I will end up the same as the fool, what’s the value of all my wisdom? This is all so meaningless!”H227H559H3820H4745H3684H7136H1571H3148H2449H1696H3820H189216For the wise and the foolish both die. The wise will not be remembered any longer than the fool. In the days to come, both will be forgotten.H2146H2450H5973H3684H5769H3528H3117H935H7911H4191H2450H368417So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.H8130H2416H4639H6213H8121H7451H1892H7469H7307

The Futility of Work

18I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned.H8130H5999H6001H8121H3240H120H31019And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless!H3045H2450H5530H7980H5999H5998H2449H8121H189220So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world.H5437H2976H3820H2976H5999H5998H812121Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy.H3426H120H5999H2451H1847H3788H120H5998H5414H2506H1892H7227H745122So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety?H1933H120H5999H7475H3820H1931H6001H812123Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.H3117H4341H6045H3708H3820H7901H3915H189224So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.H2896H120H398H8354H5315H7200H2896H5999H2090H7200H3027H43025For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?cH398H2363H235126God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy to those who please him. But if a sinner becomes wealthy, God takes the wealth away and gives it to those who please him. This, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.H5414H120H2896H6440H2451H1847H8057H2398H5414H6045H622H3664H5414H2896H6440H430H1892H7469H7307

A Time for Everything

3For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.H2165H6256H2656H80642A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.H6256H3205H6256H4191H6256H5193H6256H6131H51933A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.H6256H2026H6256H7495H6256H6555H6256H11294A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.H6256H1058H6256H7832H6256H5594H6256H75405A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.H6256H7993H68H6256H3664H68H3664H6256H2263H6256H7368H22636A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.H6256H1245H6256H6H6256H8104H6256H79937A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.H6256H7167H6256H8609H6256H2814H6256H16968A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.H6256H157H6256H8130H6256H4421H6256H79659What do people really get for all their hard work?H3504H6213H834H600110I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.H7200H6045H430H5414H1121H120H603111Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.H6213H3303H6256H5414H5769H3820H1097H120H4672H4639H430H6213H7218H549012So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.H3045H2896H8055H6213H2896H241613And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.H120H398H8354H7200H2896H5999H4991H43014And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.H3045H430H6213H5769H369H3254H1639H430H6213H3372H644015What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.H3528H3528H430H1245H7291

The Injustices of Life

16I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt!H7200H8121H4725H4941H7562H4725H6664H756217I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”H559H3820H430H8199H6662H7563H6256H2656H463918I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals.H559H3820H1700H1121H120H430H1305H7200H1992H92919For people and animals share the same fate—both breathec and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless!H4745H1121H120H4745H929H259H4745H4194H4194H2088H259H7307H120H4195H929H189220Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust.H1980H259H4725H6083H7725H6083H772521For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?H3045H7307H1121H120H5927H4605H7307H929H3381H4295H77622So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here! No one will bring us back from death to enjoy life after we die.H7200H2896H120H8055H4639H2506H935H7200H310

4Again, I observed all the oppression that takes place under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, with no one to comfort them. The oppressors have great power, and their victims are helpless.H7725H7200H6217H6213H8121H1832H6231H5162H3027H6231H3581H5162 2So I concluded that the dead are better off than the living.H7623H4191H3528H4191H2416H5728H2416 3But most fortunate of all are those who are not yet born. For they have not seen all the evil that is done under the sun.H2896H8147H5728H7200H7451H4639H6213H8121 4Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.H7200H5999H3788H4639H376H7068H7453H1892H7469H7307 5“Fools fold their idle hands, leading them to ruin.”H3684H2263H3027H2263H398H1320 6And yet, “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”H2896H3709H5183H2651H4393H5999H7469H7307

The Advantages of Companionship

7I observed yet another example of something meaningless under the sun.H7725H7200H1892H8121 8This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, “Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?” It is all so meaningless and depressing.H3426H259H8145H1121H251H7093H5999H5869H7646H6239H6001H2637H5315H2896H1892H7451H6045 9Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.H8147H2896H259H3426H2896H7939H5999 10If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.H5307H259H6965H2270H337H259H5307H8145H6965 11Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?H1571H8147H7901H2552H259H3179 12A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.H259H8630H8147H5975H8027H2339H4120H5423

The Futility of Political Power

13It is better to be a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who refuses all advice.H2896H4542H2450H3206H2205H3684H4428H3045H2094 14Such a youth could rise from poverty and succeed. He might even become king, though he has been in prison.H631H1004H3318H4427H3205H4438H7326 15But then everyone rushes to the side of yet another youthc who replaces him.H7200H2416H1980H8121H8145H3206H5975 16Endless crowds stand around himc, but then another generation grows up and rejects him, too. So it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.H7093H5971H6440H314H8055H1892H7475H7307

8[For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by a stringed instrumentc.] O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens.H5329H1665H4210H1732H3068H113H117H8034H776H5414H1935H8064 2You have taught children and infants to tell of your strengthc, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.H6310H5768H3243H3245H5797H6887H7673H341H5358 3When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—H7200H8064H4639H676H3394H3556H3559 4what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?cH582H2142H1121H120H6485 5Yet you made them only a little lower than Godc and crowned them with glory and honor.H4592H2637H430H5849H3519H1926 6You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority—H4910H4639H3027H7896H7272 7the flocks and the herds and all the wild animals,H6792H504H929H7704 8the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents.H6833H8064H1709H3220H5674H734H3220 9O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!H3068H113H117H8034H776


New Living Translation (NLT). Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. More details.
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