For this is our God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even to death. Psalm 48:14
The Value of Wisdom
1 A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of one’s birth.
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting,
for that is the end of all men, and the living should take this to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for from a sorrowful countenance the heart is made good.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the praise of fools.
6 For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
so is the laughter of the fool. This also is meaningless.
7 Surely extortion makes the wise man foolish,
and a bribe destroys understanding.
8 Better is the end of a thing than its beginning.
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
9 Do not let your spirit be quick to anger,
for anger rests in the bosom of fools.
10 Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?”
For this is not a wise question to ask.
11 Wisdom is as good as an inheritance,
and by it there is profit to all who see the sun.
12 For wisdom is a defense, just as money is a defense,
but the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
13 Consider the work of God,
for who can make straight that which he has made crooked?
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful,
and in the day of adversity consider this:
God has made one alongside the other
so that man should find nothing after him.
Limits of Human Wisdom
15 All this I have seen in my worthless days: there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in his evil ways.
16 Do not be overly righteous, nor make yourself overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Do not be too wicked, nor be foolish. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good that you should grasp this. Yes, do not let go of it either, for he who fears God will escape all extremes.
19 Wisdom makes one wise person
more powerful than ten rulers in a city.
20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth
who does good and does not sin.
21 Also do not take to heart every word that is spoken, lest you hear your servant curse you. 22 For your own heart knows that many times you yourself have likewise cursed others.
23 All this I have tested through wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. 24 That which is far off and exceedingly deep, who can find it? 25 I turned around, and my heart sought to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know that wickedness is stupidity, and that foolishness is madness. 26 I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and traps, whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God shall escape from her, but the sinner will be ensnared by her.
27 “I have found this,” says the Preacher, “adding one detail to another to discover an explanation, 28 for which I continue to seek but have not found. I have found one man among a thousand, but I have not found a woman among them. 29 I have only found this: that God made man upright, but mankind searches for many schemes.”
Obey the King
1 Who is like the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, and the harshness of his face is changed.
2 Keep the king’s command because of your oath to God. 3 Do not be hasty to leave his presence. Do not stand for an evil cause, for the king does whatever he pleases, 4 and the king’s word is supreme. Who can say to him, “What are you doing?”
5 Whoever keeps his commandment shall not come to harm, and his wise heart will know the right time and way to proceed. 6 For there is a time and procedure for every purpose, although a man’s miseries weigh heavily upon him. 7 For he does not know that which will be, for who can tell him how it will be?
8 There is no man who has power over the spirit to contain the spirit, nor does he have power over the day of death. There is no escaping that battle, nor shall wickedness deliver those who practice it. 9 All this I have seen and applied my mind to every work that is done under the sun. There is a time in which one man has power over another to his own harm.
10 So I saw the wicked buried, those who used to come and go where holy people went, and they were no longer remembered in the city where they did this. This also is futile.
11 When sentencing for crime is not executed speedily, the hearts of men are filled with evil schemes.
12 Though a sinner commits crimes a hundred times and lives long, yet surely I know that it will be better with those who fear God, who are reverent before him. 13 But it shall not be well with the wicked, nor shall he lengthen their days like a shadow, because they are not reverent before God.
God’s Ways are Mysterious
14 There is another senseless thing that happens on earth: the righteous get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked are rewarded for the work righteous people have done. This is also meaningless.
15 Then I commended pleasure, because a man has no better thing under the sun than to eat, drink and be joyful, for that will accompany him in his labor all the days of his life, which God has given him under the sun.
16 When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the labor that is done on the earth (even though the eyes of men see no sleep by day or by night), 17 then I saw all the work of God and that man will never discover all the work that is done under the sun, because however much a man labors to seek it out, yet he will never find it. Yes even though a wise man thinks he can comprehend it, he will not be able to find it.
Death Comes to Good and Bad
1 All this I took to heart, exploring all of this and concluding that the righteous, and the wise and their works, are in the hands of God. No man knows whether it is love or whether it is hatred that is before him.
2 All things happen the same to everyone. Life is one event for both the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for him who sacrifices and for him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner, he who takes an oath, as he who fears taking an oath.
3 This is a travesty–all this that is done under the sun, that life is one event for everyone. Indeed, the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
4 For to him who is joined with all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead do not know anything, nor do they have any more reward; for their memory is forgotten. 6 Also their love, their hatred, and their envy has perished long ago; nor do they have any longer a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.
Enjoy Your Portion in This Life
7 Go your way—eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God has already accepted your works.
8 Let your garments be always white,
and do not let your head lack oil.
9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your meaningless life, which he has given you under the sun, all your days of futility, for that is your portion in life and in your labor for which you toil under the sun.
10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for there is no work, nor plan, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you are going.
11 I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man also does not know his time. As the fish that are taken in a cruel net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men trapped in an evil time, that suddenly falls on them.
Wisdom is Better Than Strength
13 I have also seen wisdom under the sun in this way, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city and few men within it, and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it. 15 Now a poor wise man was found in it, and he, by his wisdom delivered the city, yet no man remembered that same poor man. 16 Then I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
17 The words of the wise heard in quiet
are better than the cry of him who rules among fools.
18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
but one sinner destroys much good.
2 Corinthians 7:8-16
8 For even though I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it when I saw that my letter grieved you, but just for a while. 9 I now rejoice, not that you were grieved, but that you were grieved to repentance. For you were grieved in a godly way, that you might suffer loss by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance that leads to salvation, which brings no regret. But sorrow dealt with in a worldly manner produces death. 11 For see what this godly sorry has worked in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, and what pursuit of justice! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be pure in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you, I wrote not because of the one that did the wrong, nor because of the one that suffered the wrong, but that your earnest care for us might be revealed in you in the sight of God.
13 Therefore we have been comforted. In our comfort we rejoiced all the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 For if in anything I have boasted to him on your behalf, I was not disappointed. But as we spoke everything to you in truth, so our glorying also which I made before Titus was found to be truth. 15 His affection is greater for you as he remembers all of your obedience, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 I rejoice that in everything I am confident concerning you.
A Song. A Psalm by the sons of Korah.
1 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
in the city of our God, in his holy mountain.
2 Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth,
is Mount Zion, on the north sides,
the city of the great King.
3 The Lord has shown himself as a refuge in her citadels.
4 For the kings assembled.
They passed by together.
5 They saw it, and they marveled.
They were troubled and hurried away.
6 Trembling took hold of them there,
and pain, like a woman in labor.
7 With the east wind, you break the ships of Tarshish.
8 As we have heard, so we have seen,
in the city of God of Armies, in the city of our God.
God will establish it forever.
9 We have thought about your loving kindness, O God,
in the midst of your temple.
10 As is your name, O God,
so is your praise to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is full of righteousness.
11 Let Mount Zion be glad!
Let the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments.
12 Circle around Zion, and walk around her.
Count its towers.
13 Notice her fortification.
Consider her palaces,
that you may tell it to the next generation.
14 For this is our God, our God forever and ever.
He will be our guide even to death.
17 Turn your ear and listen to the words of the wise.
Apply your heart to my teaching.
18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
19 I teach you today, even you so that your trust may be in God.