Ecclesiastes 9
Contemporary English Version

One Day at a Time

1I thought about these things. Then I understood that God has power over everyone, even those who are wise and live right. Anything can happen to any one of us, and so we never know if life will be good or bad.+ 2But exactly+ 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 are afraid to make them.

3It'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. 4As long as we are alive, we still have hope, just as a live dog is better off than a dead lion. 5We know we will die, but the dead don't know a thing. Nothing good will happen to them—they are gone and forgotten. 6Their 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.

7So be happy and enjoy eating and drinking! God decided long ago that this is what you should do. 8Dress up, comb your hair, and look your best. 9Life 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. 10Work hard at whatever you do. You will soon go to the world of the dead, where no one works or thinks or reasons or even knows anything.

11Here 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 own share

of misfortune.

12None 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

13Once I saw what people really think of wisdom, and it made an impression on me. 14It 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. 15But the city was saved by the wisdom of a poor person who was soon forgotten. 16So 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.

17Words of wisdom spoken softly

make much more sense

than the shouts of a ruler

to a crowd of fools.

18Wisdom is more powerful

than weapons,

yet one mistake can destroy

all the good you have done.


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

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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