Ecclesiastes 7
Contemporary English Version

The Best in Life

1 A good reputation

at the time of death

is better than loving care

at the time of birth.+

2It's better to go to a funeral

than to attend a feast;

funerals remind us

that we all must die.

3Choose sorrow over laughter

because a sad face

may hide a happy heart.

4A sensible person mourns,

but fools always laugh.

5Correction from someone wise

is better by far

than praise from fools.

6Foolish laughter is stupid.

It sounds like thorns

crackling in a fire.

7Corruption+ makes fools

of sensible people,

and bribes can ruin you.

8Something completed is better

than something just begun;

patience is better

than too much pride.

9 Only fools get angry quickly

and hold a grudge.

10It isn't wise to ask,

“Why is everything worse

than it used to be?”

11Having wisdom is better

than an inheritance.

12Wisdom will protect you

just like money;

knowledge with good sense

will lead you to life.

13Think of what God has done!

If God makes something crooked,

can you make it straight?

14When times are good,

you should be cheerful;

when times are bad,

think about what it means.

God makes them both

to keep us from knowing

what will happen next.

Some of Life's Questions

15I have seen everything during this senseless life of mine. I have seen good citizens die for doing the right thing, while criminals live and prosper. 16So don't destroy yourself by being too good or acting too smart! 17Don't die before your time by being too evil or acting like a fool. 18Keep to the middle of the road. You can do this if you truly respect God.

19Wisdom will make you stronger than the ten most powerful leaders in your city.

20No one in this world always does right.

21Don't listen to everything that everyone says, or you might hear your servant cursing you. 22Haven't you cursed many others?

23I told myself that I would be smart and try to understand all this, but it was too much for me. 24The truth is beyond us. It's far too deep. 25So I decided to learn everything I could and become wise enough to discover what life is all about. At the same time, I wanted to understand why it's stupid and senseless to be an evil fool.

26Here is what I discovered: A bad woman is worse than death. She is a trap, reaching out with body and soul to catch you. But if you obey God, you can escape. If you don't obey, you are done for. 27With all my wisdom I have tried to find out how everything fits together, 28but so far I have not been able to. I do know there is one good man in a thousand, but never have I found a good woman. 29I did learn one thing: We were completely honest when God created us, but now we have twisted minds.


7.1 birth: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 1.
7.7 Corruption: Or “Oppression.”

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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