Life is Brief and Death is Certain!
7:1 A good reputation1 is better2 than precious3 perfume;4
likewise,5 the day of one’s6 death7 is better than the day of one’s birth.8
7:2 It is better to go to a funeral9
than a feast.10
For death11 is the destiny12 of every person,13
and the living should14 take this15 to heart.
7:3 Sorrow16 is better than laughter,
because sober reflection17 is good for the heart.18
7:4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of merrymaking.19
Frivolous Living Versus Wisdom
7:5 It is better for a person to receive20 a rebuke from those who are wise21
than to listen to the song22 of fools.
7:6 For like the crackling of quick-burning thorns23 under a cooking pot,
so is the laughter of the fool.
This kind of folly24 also is useless.25
Human Wisdom Overturned by Adversity
7:7 Surely oppression26 can turn a wise person into a fool;27
likewise,28 a bribe corrupts29 the heart.30
7:8 The end of a matter31 is better than its beginning;
likewise, patience32 is better than pride.33
7:9 Do not let yourself be quickly provoked,34
for anger resides in the lap35 of fools.
7:10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these days?”36
for it is not wise to ask that.37
Wisdom Can Lengthen One’s Life
7:11 Wisdom, like38 an inheritance, is a good thing;
it benefits those who see the light of day.39
7:12 For wisdom provides40 protection,41
just as42 money provides protection.43
But the advantage of knowledge is this:
Wisdom preserves the life44 of its owner.
Wisdom Acknowledges God’s Orchestration of Life
7:13 Consider the work of God:
For who can make straight what he has bent?
7:14 In times of prosperity45 be joyful,
but in times of adversity46 consider this:
God has made one as well as the other,47
so that no one can discover what the future holds.48
Exceptions to the Law of Retribution
7:15 During the days of my fleeting life49 I have seen both50 of these things:
Sometimes51 a righteous person dies prematurely52 in spite of53 his righteousness,
and sometimes54 a wicked person lives long55 in spite of his evil deeds.
7:16 So do not be excessively righteous or excessively56 wise;57
otherwise58 you might59 be disappointed.60
7:17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool;
otherwise61 you might die before your time.
7:18 It is best to take hold of one warning62 without letting go of the other warning;63
for the one who fears God will follow64 both warnings.65
Wisdom Needed Because No One is Truly Righteous
7:19 Wisdom gives a wise person more protection66
than ten rulers in a city.
7:20 For67 there is not one truly68 righteous person on the earth
who continually does good and never sins.
7:21 Also, do not pay attention to everything that people69 say;
otherwise,70 you might even hear71 your servant cursing you.
7:22 For you know in your own heart72
that you also have cursed others many times.
Human Wisdom is Limited
7:23 I have examined all this by wisdom;
I said, “I am determined73 to comprehend this”74 – but it was beyond my grasp.75
7:24 Whatever has happened is beyond human76 understanding;77
it is far deeper than anyone can fathom.78
True Righteousness and Wisdom are Virtually Nonexistent
7:25 I tried79 to understand, examine, and comprehend80
the role of81 wisdom in the scheme of things,82
and to understand the stupidity of wickedness83 and the insanity of folly.84
7:26 I discovered this:85
More bitter than death is the kind of86 woman87 who is like a hunter’s snare;88
her heart is like a hunter’s net and her hands are like prison chains.
The man who pleases God escapes her,
but the sinner is captured by her.
7:27 The Teacher says:
I discovered this while trying to discover the scheme of things, item by item.
7:28 What I have continually sought, I have not found;
I have found only89 one upright90 man among a thousand,
but I have not found one upright woman among all of them.
7:29 This alone have I discovered: God made humankind upright,
but they have sought many evil schemes.