This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13
Wisdom and Folly
1 Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to produce a bad odor,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 A wise man’s heart leads to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left.
3 Even when the fool walks along the road,
he lacks wisdom, and he shows everyone that he is a fool.
4 If the spirit of the ruler rises up against you, do not leave your place,
for great offenses are laid to rest through a gentle response.
5 There is a tragedy which I have seen under the sun,
the sort of error which proceeds from the ruler.
6 Fools are set in great dignity,
but rich sit in a low place.
7 I have seen servants on horses
and princes walking like servants on the earth.
8 He who digs a pit may fall into it,
and whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.
9 Whoever carves out stones may be injured by them.
Whoever splits wood may be endangered by it.
10 If the ax is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
then he must use more strength,
but skill brings success.
11 If the snake bites before it is charmed,
then is there no profit for the charmer’s tongue.
12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious,
but a fool is consumed by his own lips.
13 The beginning of his talk is foolishness,
but the end of his talk is evil madness.
14 The fool multiplies words.
Man does not know what will be,
and that which will be after him, who can tell?
15 The labor of fools wearies every one of them,
for he does not know the way to town.
16 Woe to you, land, when your king is a child
and your princes feast until morning!
17 Blessed are you, land, when your king is the son of nobles,
and your princes feast in due season,
for strength and not for drunkenness!
18 By slothfulness the roof sinks in,
and through idleness of the hands the house leaks.
19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes the life glad,
and money is the answer for everything.
20 Do not curse the king, no, not even in your thoughts,
and do not curse the rich in your bedroom,
for a bird of the sky may carry your words,
and that which has wings may repeat it.
Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters
1 Cast your bread on the waters,
for you shall find it after many days.
2 Give a portion to seven, yes, even to eight,
for you do not know what tragedy is coming to the earth.
3 If the clouds are full,
they will empty themselves on the earth,
and if a tree falls toward the south, or toward the north,
in the place where the tree falls, there shall it be.
4 He who watches the wind will not sow,
and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
5 As you do not know the way of the wind,
nor how the bones grow in the womb of a mother,
so you do not know the work of God
who makes everything.
6 In the morning sow your seed,
and in the evening do not be idle,
for you do not know which will prosper,
whether this or that,
or whether they both will equally prosper.
Enjoy Your Years
7 Truly the light is sweet,
and it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to see the sun.
8 Yes, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all,
but let him remember the days of darkness,
for they shall be many.
Everything that happens is meaningless.
9 Rejoice, young man, in your youth,
and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth.
But if you follow your own heart
and indulge in everything your eyes can see,
remember that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.
10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart,
and put away evil from your flesh,
for youth and the dawn of life are meaningless.
Remember Your Creator in Your Youth
1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth,
before days of adversity come, and the years draw near,
when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.”
2 Before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain,
3 on the day when the guardians of the house shall tremble,
and the strong men are bent down,
and the grinders can no longer grind because they are few,
and those who watch from the windows see dimly,
4 and the doors to the city are shut,
when the sound of grinding dulls,
and one rises at the first chirp of a bird,
and then all the daughters of song grow quiet.
5 Yes, they shall be afraid of heights and terrors in the streets,
when the almond tree blooms white,
and the grasshopper’s gait grows burdensome and desire fails,
because man goes to his eternal home,
and the mourners go about the streets,
6 before the silver cord is severed,
or the golden bowl is broken,
or the pitcher is broken at the spring,
or the wheel broken at the cistern,
7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 “Meaningless futility,” says the Preacher. “Everything is meaningless!”
The Fear of God is Utmost
9 Not only was the Preacher was wise, he also taught the people knowledge. Yes, he pondered, sought out, and set in order many proverbs.
10 The Preacher sought to find out acceptable sayings, that which was written without fault, words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails well fastened are words from the scholars, given from one shepherd. 12 Furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
1 Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia. 2 During a severe testing by affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the riches of their generosity. 3 For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints. 5 This was not as we had expected, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun before, so he would also complete in you this grace.
7 But as you abound in everything, in faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that you also abound in this grace. 8 I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love.
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that through his poverty you might become rich. 10 I give my judgment in this, for this is expedient for you who were the first to start a year ago, not only to do it, but also to be willing to do it. 11 But now complete the task as well, that as you were ready and willing, so, with your ability, you may also complete it. 12 For if you are ready, it is acceptable according to what you have, not according to what you do not have. 13 For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed, 14 but for equality. Your abundance at this present time supplies their lack, that their abundance also may become a supply for your lack, that there may be equality. 15 As it is written,
“He who gathered much had nothing left over,
and he who gathered little had no lack.”a
For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by the sons of Korah.
1 Hear this, all you peoples.
Listen, all you inhabitants of the world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor together.
3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom.
My heart will utter understanding.
4 I will incline my ear to a proverb.
I will solve my riddle on the harp.
5 Why should I fear in the days of evil,
when iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
6 Those who trust in their wealth,
and boast in the multitude of their riches—
7 none of them can by any means redeem his brother,
nor give the Lord a ransom for him.
8 For the redemption of their life is costly,
no payment is ever enough,
9 that he should live on forever,
that he should not see corruption.
10 For he sees that wise men die;
likewise the fool and the senseless perish,
and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their inner thought is that their houses will endure forever,
and their dwelling places to all generations.
They name their lands after themselves.
12 But man, despite his riches, does not endure.
He is like the animals that perish.
13 This is the destiny of those who are foolish,
and of those who approve their sayings.
14 They are appointed as a flock for Sheol.
Death shall be their shepherd.
The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning.
Their beauty shall decay in Sheol,
far from their mansion.
15 But the Lord will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me.
16 Do not be afraid when a man is made rich,
when the glory of his house is increased,
17 for when he dies he will carry nothing away.
His glory will not descend after him.
18 Though while he lived he blessed his soul—
and men praise you when you do well for yourself—
19 he shall go to the generation of his fathers.
They shall never see the light.
20 A man who has riches without understanding,
is like the animals that perish.
20 Have I not written to you 30 excellent things of counsel and knowledge,
21 to teach you truth, reliable words, to give sound answers to the ones who sent you?