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the words of the teacher, chapters 3-6

November 15, 2007

In these chapters, the teacher continues his appraisal of the human condition. He uncovers a variety of “grievous evils” and more of life that is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 3:16-21

16 And I saw something else under the sun:
       In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
       in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

 17 I thought in my heart,
       “God will bring to judgment
       both the righteous and the wicked,
       for there will be a time for every activity,
       a time for every deed.”

 18 I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal  goes down into the earth?”

 Ecclesiastes 4:1-4

1 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
       I saw the tears of the oppressed—
       and they have no comforter;
       power was on the side of their oppressors—
       and they have no comforter.

 2 And I declared that the dead,
       who had already died,
       are happier than the living,
       who are still alive.

 3 But better than both
       is he who has not yet been,
       who has not seen the evil
       that is done under the sun.

 4 And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Ecclesiastes 5:10-17

 10 Whoever loves money never has money enough;
       whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
       This too is meaningless.

 11 As goods increase,
       so do those who consume them.
       And what benefit are they to the owner
       except to feast his eyes on them?

 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
       whether he eats little or much,
       but the abundance of a rich man
       permits him no sleep.

 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
       wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,

14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
       so that when he has a son
       there is nothing left for him.

 15 Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb,
       and as he comes, so he departs.
       He takes nothing from his labor
       that he can carry in his hand.

 16 This too is a grievous evil:
       As a man comes, so he departs,
       and what does he gain,
       since he toils for the wind?

 17 All his days he eats in darkness,
       with great frustration, affliction and anger.

Ecclesiastes 6:7-12

 7 All man’s efforts are for his mouth,
       yet his appetite is never satisfied.

 8 What advantage has a wise man
       over a fool?
       What does a poor man gain
       by knowing how to conduct himself before others?

 9 Better what the eye sees
       than the roving of the appetite.
       This too is meaningless,
       a chasing after the wind.

 10 Whatever exists has already been named,
       and what man is has been known;
       no man can contend
       with one who is stronger than he.

 11 The more the words,
       the less the meaning,
       and how does that profit anyone?

 12 For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?

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