10 As dead flies spoil the perfumer’s oil,
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 The mind of the wise tends toward the right,
but the mind of the fool toward the left.
3 Fools lack all sense even when they walk down the street;
they show everyone that they are fools.
4 If a ruler’s temper rises against you,
don’t leave your post, because calmness alleviates great offenses.
5 There’s an evil that I have seen under the sun: the kind of mistake that comes from people in power. 6 Fools are appointed to high posts, while the rich sit in lowly positions. 7 I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes walk on foot like slaves.
8 Whoever digs a pit may fall into it,
and whoever breaks through a wall
may be bitten by a snake.
9 Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them;
whoever splits logs
may be endangered by them.
10 If an ax is dull
and one doesn’t sharpen it first,
then one must exert more force.
It’s profitable to be skillful and wise.
11 If a snake bites before it’s charmed,
then there’s no profit
for the snake charmer.
12 Words from a wise person’s mouth are beneficial, but fools are devoured by their own lips.
13 Fools start out talking foolishness and end up speaking awful nonsense.
14 Fools talk too much! No one knows what will happen; no one can say what will happen in the future.
15 The hard work of fools tires them out because they don’t even know the way to town!
16 Too bad for you, land,
whose king is a boy
and whose princes feast in the morning.
17 Happy is the land
whose king is dignified
and whose princes feast at the right time for energy,
not for drunkenness.
18 Through laziness, the roof sags;
through idle hands, the house leaks.
19 Feasts are made for laughter,
wine cheers the living,
and money answers everything.[a]
20 Don’t curse a king even in private; don’t curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird could carry your voice; some winged creature could report what you said!
Take risks; life is short
11 Send your bread out on the water because, in the course of time, you may find it again. 2 Give a portion to seven people, even to eight: you don’t know what disaster may come upon the land. 3 If clouds fill up, they will empty out rain on the earth. If a tree falls, whether to the south or to the north, wherever it falls, there it will lie. 4 Those who watch the wind blow will never sow, and those who observe the clouds will never reap. 5 Just as you don’t understand what the life-breath does in the fetus[b] inside a pregnant woman’s womb, so you can’t understand the work of God, who makes everything happen. 6 Scatter your seed in the morning, and in the evening don’t be idle because you don’t know which will succeed, this one or that, or whether both will be equally good.
7 Sweet is the light, and it’s pleasant for the eyes to see the sun. 8 Even those who live many years should take pleasure in them all. But they should be mindful that there will also be many dark days. Everything that happens is pointless.
9 Rejoice, young person, while you are young! Your heart should make you happy in your prime. Follow your heart’s inclinations and whatever your eyes see, but know this: God will call you to account for all of these things. 10 Remove anxiety from your heart, banish pain from your body, because youth and the dawn of life are pointless too.
Troubling days to come
12 Remember your creator in your prime,
before the days of trouble arrive,
and those years, about which you’ll say, “I take no pleasure in these”—
2 before the sun and the light grow dark, the moon and the stars too,
before the clouds return after the rain;
3 on the day when the housekeepers tremble and the strong men stoop;
when the women who grind stop working because they’re so few,
and those who look through the windows grow dim;
4 when the doors to the street are shut,
when the sound of the mill fades,
the sound of the bird rises,
and all the singers come down low;
5 when people are afraid of things above
and of terrors along the way;
when the almond tree blanches, the locust droops,
and the caper-berry comes to nothing;[c]
when the human goes to the eternal abode,
with mourners all around in the street;
6 before the silver cord snaps and the gold bowl shatters;
the jar is broken at the spring and the wheel is crushed at the pit;
7 before dust returns to the earth as it was before
and the life-breath returns to God who gave it.
Motto and conclusion
8 Perfectly pointless, says the Teacher, everything is pointless.
9 Additionally: Because the Teacher was wise, he constantly taught the people knowledge. He listened and investigated. He composed many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched for pleasing words, and he wrote truthful words honestly.
11 The words of the wise are like iron-tipped prods;
the collected sayings of the masters
are like nails fixed firmly by a shepherd.[d]
12 Be careful, my child, of anything beyond them!
There’s no end to the excessive production of scrolls. Studying too much wearies the body. 13 So this is the end of the matter; all has been heard. Worship God and keep God’s commandments because this is what everyone must do. 14 God will definitely bring every deed to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Encouragement to give generously
8 Brothers and sisters, we want to let you know about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia. 2 While they were being tested by many problems, their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity. 3 I assure you that they gave what they could afford and even more than they could afford, and they did it voluntarily. 4 They urgently begged us for the privilege[a] of sharing in this service for the saints. 5 They even exceeded our expectations, because they gave themselves to the Lord first and to us, consistent with God’s will. 6 As a result, we challenged Titus to finish this work of grace with you the way he had started it.
7 Be the best in this work of grace in the same way that you are the best in everything, such as faith, speech, knowledge, total commitment, and the love we inspired in you. 8 I’m not giving an order, but by mentioning the commitment of others, I’m trying to prove the authenticity of your love also. 9 You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was rich, he became poor for our sakes, so that you could become rich through his poverty.
10 I’m giving you my opinion about this. It’s to your advantage to do this, since you not only started to do it last year but you wanted to do it too. 11 Now finish the job as well so that you finish it with as much enthusiasm as you started, given what you can afford. 12 A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford, if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly. 13 It isn’t that we want others to have financial ease and you financial difficulties, but it’s a matter of equality. 14 At the present moment, your surplus can fill their deficit so that in the future their surplus can fill your deficit. In this way there is equality. 15 As it is written, The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little.[b]
For the music leader. A psalm of the Korahites.
49 Listen to this, all you people!
Listen closely, all you citizens of the world—
2 people of every kind,
rich and poor alike!
3 My mouth speaks wisdom;
my heart’s meditation is full of insight.
4 I will pay close attention to a proverb;
I will explain my riddle on the lyre.
5 Why should I be afraid in times of trouble,
when the wrongdoing of my bullies engulfs me—
6 those people who trust in their fortunes
and boast of their fantastic wealth?
7 Wealth? It can’t save a single person!
It can’t pay a life’s ransom-price to God.
8 The price to save someone’s life is too high—
wealth will never be enough—
9 no one can live forever
without experiencing the pit.
10 Everyone knows that the wise die too,
just like foolish and stupid people do,
all of them leaving their fortunes to others.
11 Their graves[a] are their eternal homes,
the place they live for all generations,
even if they had counties named after them!
12 People won’t live any longer because of wealth;
they’re just like the animals that pass away.
13 That’s how it goes for those who are foolish,
as well as for those who follow their lead, pleased with their talk.
14 Like sheep, they’re headed straight for the grave.[b]
Death will be their shepherd—
but those who do right in their hearts will rule over them come morning!—
their forms wasting away in the grave
rather than having some dignified residence.[c]
15 But God will save my life from the power of the grave,
because he will take me. Selah
16 Don’t be overly impressed when someone becomes rich,
their house swelling to fantastic proportions,
17 because when they die, they won’t take any of it with them.
Their fantastic things won’t accompany them down under.
18 Though they consider themselves blessed during their lives,
and even thank you when you deal well with them,[d]
19 they too will join the ancestors who’ve gone ahead;
they too will never see the light again.
20 Wealthy people? They just don’t understand;
they’re just like the animals
that pass away.