Ecclesiastes from the Old Testament of the Bible

Chapter 1

Everything is Meaningless

  • Everything is meaningless says the teacher (Solomon?).
    • You work all day under the sun & what do you get?
    • Generations come & go but the earth remains forever.
    • The sun rises & sets, only to rise again.
    • The wind blows south only to blow north.
    • The streams flow to the sea but the sea never gets full.
    • Things are more tiring that we can say.
    • The eye will never see it all. The ear will never hear it all.
    • Everything that has been will be again.
    • Everything that has been done will be done again.
      • There’s nothing new under the sun.
    • Can anyone honestly say, “Look, there’s something no one’s ever seen before”?
      • It’s all been done before – long before our time
    • Nobody remembers the older generations.
      • The ones to come will also be forgotten.

Wisdom is Meaningless

  • I was once King over all of Israel, in Jerusalem.
    • I wanted to study & explore all you could possibly do on earth.
    • What a heaven load God’s laid on us.
    • I’ve done everything you could possibly do & it is all meaningless.
      • What’s crooked can’t be straightened. What’s not there can’t be counted.
  • I told myself that I had learned more than anyone who’d ever ruled over Jerusalem.
    • I had gained a lot of wisdom & looked to apply it. But that’s also pointless.
    • With much wisdom comes much sorrow.
    • More knowledge means more grief.

Chapter 2

Pleasures are Meaningless

  • I wanted to test myself with pleasure to find out what’s good.
    • That was also meaningless.
    • Laughter is madness.
    • What does pleasure actually accomplish?
    • I tried wine to cheer me up – no good.
    • I wanted to see what was good for people to do in the short time we’re here on earth.
  • I built houses & planted vineyards.
    • I built gardens & parks with all kinds of trees in them.
    • I made reservoirs to water them.
    • I bought many male & female slaves.
    • I owned more herds & flocks than anyone in Jerusalem.
    • I got all kinds of money & treasure.
    • I had a harem & entertainers.
    • I was the biggest big shot anyone had ever seen in Jerusalem
  • Anything I wanted I had.
    • I enjoyed the fruits of my labor to the fullest.
    • But when I looked at all I had busted my ass for, it all seemed to meaningless.
    • It seemed with all that hard work to buy all those things, I was still left with nothing.

Wisdom & Folly are Meaningless

  • I tried to become as wise as I could
    • But what could David’s successor do that hadn’t already been done?
    • I saw that wisdom was better than folly just as light is better than darkness.
    • I saw that the wise see while the fool is blind.
      • But the same fate awaits them both.
  • I knew the fate of the fool would befall me & asked what the point of being wise is.
    • It’s meaningless.
    • The wise & the fool will soon be forgotten. Both must die

Toil is Meaningless

  • So I really hated life because all that hard work I had been doing didn’t make me happy.
    • It was all so meaningless.
    • I hated life because all those things I worked so hard for would be left for the next one.
      • Will he be a fool or wise?
      • He’ll control everything I ever worked for.
    • So I got depressed about all my hard work.
    • You can work with all your wisdom, knowledge & skill but you’ll leave it to someone who didn’t work for it.
    • So why do people work so hard when this is the result?
    • People work so hard that they can’t find rest at night.
  • You can’t do anything more than to eat & drink, & find some sort of satisfaction in your work.
    • That comes from God. Without him who can eat or be happy?
    • If you please God, he’ll give you wisdom, knowledge & happiness.
    • If you sin, God’ll task you with working your ass off for the one who pleases him.
    • All so meaningless.

Chapter 3

A Time for Everything

  • There’s a time for everything & a season for everything.
    • A time for birth & a time for death.
    • A time to plant & a time reap.
    • A time to kill & a time to heal.
    • A time to tear down & a time to build up.
    • A time to weep & a time to laugh.
    • A time to mourn & a time to dance.
    • A time to scatter & a time to gather.
    • A time to embrace & a time to refrain.
    • A time to search & a time to stop.
    • A time to keep & a time to discard.
    • A time to tear & a time to mend.
    • A time to be silent & a time to speak.
    • A time to love & a time to hate.
    • A time for war & time for peace.
  • What do you get for all your work.
    • I’ve seen what God’s saddled humanity with.
    • He’s made everything beautiful in its time.
    • He’s put eternity into our hearts but we don’t know the depth of God from beginning to end.
    • I know the best for people is to be happy & do good while they live.
    • Each one may eat & drink & be happy in their work – that’s the gift of God.
    • Everything God does lasts forever.
      • Nothing can be added or taken away.
  • Everything that is has already been. & everything that will be has been before.
    • God will recall the past.
  • I saw that in the place of judgment & justice, there was wickedness.
    • I told myself God will bring judgment to wicked & the just because there will be a time for every activity & a time to judge them.
    • I also saw that God tests us to see if we are like the animals.
      • The same fate awaits us as them.
      • We have no advantage over them.
    • It’s all so meaningless.
      • We all come from dust & we’ll return to dust.
    • Who knows if the human spirit rises & the spirit of the animal falls?
    • So the only good thing is to enjoy one’s work because that’s all we have.

Chapter 4

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness

  • I saw the tears of the oppressed because there was no one to comfort them.
    • The power was on the side of their oppressors.
    • The dead are happier than the living.
    • The happiest of all are those who were never born – those who have never seen evil.
  • All work & achievement come from people’s envy of one another.
    • Fools do nothing & ruin themselves.
    • Best is one quiet hand than 2 hands full of toil chasing the wind.
  • I saw a mean all alone – no son or brother.
    • He work never ended & he was not able to be content with his wealth.
    • He asked who he was working for & why he couldn’t be happy with what he had.
    • All so meaning less & miserable.
  • 2 are better than one.
    • They have a good return on their labor.
    • When one falls down, the other can help him up.
    • But it’s sad when one falls down & no one’s there to help him up.
    • If 2 lie down together they warm each other.
    • One can’t keep warm alone.
    • One can be overpowered.
    • 2 can defend each other.
      • A cord of three strands isn’t easily broken.

Advancement is Meaningless

  • It’s better to be a poor but wise youth than an old foolish king who won’t listen to a warning.
    • The youth may go from prison to the throne or been born in poverty in his kingdom.
    • I saw those who lived & walked under the sun followed the youth.
    • There was no end to the people who came before them.
    • Those who came later weren’t happy with the successor.
      • All so meaningless.

Chapter 5

Fulfill Your Vow to God

  • Careful when you go to the house of God.
    • Go near to listen rather than offer a sacrifice of fools – those who don’t know they’re doing wrong.
    • Don’t be quick to talk.
    • Don’t be hasty to say anything to God.
    • God is in heaven & you’re one earth. So keep your words limited.
    • A dream comes true when you take care. Too much talking is the sign of a fool.
  • When you make a vow to God, be quick to fulfill it.
    • He doesn’t like fools, so fulfill your vow.
    • It’s better not to make a vow than to make one & not fulfill it.
    • Don’t let your mouth lead you to sin.
    • Don’t try & say that your vow was a mistake.
      • God won’t be angry at what you say & destroy what you’ve done.
      • All those dreams & words are meaning less. Just fear God.

Riches Are Meaningless

  • If you see the poor & those denied justice & rights, don’t be surprised.
    • Officials watch over each other all the way up the chain.
    • The king taxes the land from all people.
      • Whoever loves money will never have enough. Meaningless.
      • As goods increase, consumption will increase. What benefit is it?
      • The laborer’s sleep is sweet whether they eat little or a lot.
        • But the rich man’s wealth will never let him sleep
    • I’ve seen an evil
      • Wealth hoarded harms its owner, as does wealth lost.
      • When they have children there’s nothing for them to inherit.
      • Everyone’s born naked & can carry nothing out of the toil.
    • Another evil
      • Everyone is born as they die.
      • What do they gain for all that hard work?
      • They eat in darkness, frustrated, afflicted & angry.
  • It’s right for a person to eat, drink & be happy in their labor for the few days that God has given them on earth. That’s his fate.
    • When God gives someone wealth & possessions, as well as the ability to enjoy them & accept their lot & be happy in the toil – that’s a gift from God.
    • They hardly ever reflect on their life because God keeps them busy with gladness of heart.

Chapter 6

  • I’ve seen another evil weighing on mankind.
    • God give some wealth, possessions & honor. They lack nothing that they could want.
    • But God doesn’t give them the ability to enjoy them & strangers enjoy them.
  • A man may have 100 children & a long life. But no matter how long he lives, if he can’t enjoy his prosperity & doesn’t receive a proper send-off, a still-born child is better off.
    • His life has no meaning & is clouded in darkness.
  • Everyone’s toil is for their mouth & yet their appetite is never sated.
    • What do the wise have over the fools?
    • What do the poor gain by knowing how to behave around others?
    • Better to have a pleasant sight to see than a raging appetite.
  • Whatever’s been has already been named.
    • Whatever you can know is already known.
    • You can’t fight with someone stronger.
    • The more the words, the less the meaning.
    • What is the use in all that?
  • What good is a person’s life if during the few days they have they pass meaningless days in a shadow. Who can tell them about life once they’re gone?

Chapter 7

Wisdom

  • A good name is better than good perfume.
  • The day of death is better than the day of birth.
  • Better to go into a house of mourning than of feasting.
    • The living should realize that death is everyone’s destiny.
  • Frustration is better than laughter because a sad face is good for the heart.
  • A wise heart is in the house mourning while a foolish heart is in the house of pleasure.
  • It’s better to be rebuked by a wise person than hear a song of fools.
  • Extortion turns a wise man into a fool – a bribe corrupts the heart.
  • The end is better than the beginning.
  • Patience is better than pride.
  • Don’t be easily provoked because anger is foolish.
  • Don’t ask why the past was better than today – very foolish.
  • Wisdom is is a good thing & benefits those who see the sun.
  • Wisdom is a shelter – like money is.
    • Wisdom preserves those who have it.
  • Look at what God has done.
    • Who can straighten what he’s made crooked?
    • When times are good be happy but when times are bad, remember:
      • God has made the one & the other.
      • No one can discover anything about his future.
  • In the meaninglessness of life I’ve seen
    • The righteous dying in their righteousness
    • The wicked living long in their wickedness.
    • Don’t be over-righteous or over-wise.
      • Don’t destroy yourself.
    • Don’t be over-wicked.
      • Don’t be a fool.
      • Why die before your time.
    • It’s good to grasp the one & not let go of the other.
    • Those who fear God will avoid extremes.
    • Wisdom makes a wise man more powerful than 10 rulers in a city.
    • There’s no righteous man on earth – no one who always does what’s right & never sins.
    • Don’t listen to every word people say. You may hear people curse you. You know that you’ve cursed others yourself.
  • I tried to be wise but I was unable.
    • Whatever exists is too far & who can discover it?
    • I tried to use my mind to understand, to investigate, to find wisdom, to find the scheme of things, to understand the stupidity of wickedness & madness of folly.
    • More bitter than death is a woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap & whose hands are chains.
      • The man who pleases God will avoid her but the sinner will get caught.
  • This is what I’ve discovered.
    • I’ve added one thing to another to discover the scheme of things.
    • I found in all my searching & never finding
      • I found one upright man in 1000 but not one upright woman in any of them.
    • God created man upright but he goes off in search of many schemes.

Chapter 8

  • Who’s wise?
    • Who knows the explanations?
    • Wisdom brightens the face & changes its hard appearance.

Obey the King

  • Obey the King because you took an oath to God.
    • Don’t be in a hurry to leave his presence.
    • Don’t stand up for a bad cause because he will do as he pleases.
    • Since a king is supreme, you can ask him what he’s doing.
      • Whoever obey him will come to no harm.
      • The wise heart will know the right time & method.
      • There’s a proper time & method to everything even if you’re weighed down by misery.
      • No one knows the future so no can tell you what is to come.
      • No one has power over the wind to contain it.
      • No one has power over the time of his death.
      • No one is discharged in time of war. Wickedness will not release of you.
  • I saw all this as I thought of everything.
    • There’s a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt.
    • I saw the wicked buried.
    • Those who came & went from the Holy Place & were remembered for doing it.
      • All meaningless.
    • When the sentence for a crime isn’t carried out quickly, people will plan to wrong.
    • Although a truly wicked criminal may live a long life, life will go better for those who fear God & are reverent to him.
      • The wicked don’t fear God. Things will not go well for them.
  • Another meaningless thing.
    • Sometimes the righteous get what the wicked deserve & the wicked get what the righteous deserve.
      • I commend the enjoyment of life because there’s nothing better than to eat, drink & being merry.
      • The joy will accompany their toil every day that God has given them.
  • Using the wisdom I had gained, when I observed all the labor done by people – people who got no sleep in the day or night – I looked at what God had done.
    • No one can understand what’s going one.
    • Despite all their trying to learn, they can’t even begin.
    • Even if the wise claim they know, they don’t.

Chapter 9

A Common Destiny for All

  • I came to the conclusion that the righteous & wise are in God’s hands but no one knows what their fate will be.
  • Everyone has the same destiny whether they are good or bad, righteous or wicked.
    • This is the badness that happens in everything, that we all have the same fate no matter what we do.
    • The living at least have hope. The lowest living thing is better off than the greatest dead thing.
  • The living know they will die but the dead don’t know anything.
    • The dead get nothing more. Their names, loves, hatreds, jealousies are all gone. They will never have any part to play on earth.
  • Go & eat your food with gladness. Drink with joy in your hearts. All because God approves of what you do.
    • Enjoy your life with your family while you have days left on earth – even if they are meaningless.
    • This is your lot in life – work your ass off until you are dead.
  • What I’ve seen of life –
    • The race is not won by the fastest. The battle is not won by the strongest.
    • The wise, wealthy & learned do not get ahead.
    • Time & chance will have their way with all of them.
  • No one knows when his time will come.
    • Just as the fish are caught by the net & the birds are caught in a snare, people are trapped by evil times that will come for them.

Wisdom Better Than Folly

  • One example of wisdom that struck me:
    • There was a small city with just a few people. A powerful king laid siege to it.
    • In the city there was a poor but wise man who saved the city through his wisdom. Unfortunately, no one remembered that man.
    • The quiet words of the wise are better heard than the shouts of a biggest fool of them.
      • While wisdom is more powerful than any weapon, one sinner can destroy a lot of good.

Chapter 10

  • A little folly trumps wisdom & honor just like dead flies ruin perfume.
    • The heart of the wise & the heart of the fool go in different directions.
    • If a ruler’s anger rises against you, sometimes just staying calm can put the situation to rest.
  • There’s an evil that I’ve seen coming from rulers.
    • There is a lot of idiots in high positions.
    • I’ve seen the low ride high & high walk on foot.
  • If you dig at a pit, you might fall into it.
    • If you break through a wall, you might be bitten by a snake.
    • If you quarry stones, you may be injured by them.
    • If you split logs, they may hurt you.
    • If your axe is dull, you’ll need more strength. But skill can do wonders too.
    • If a snake bites before it’s charmed, the charmer doesn’t get paid.
  • Words from the wise are gracious while fools are often consumed by their own lips.
    • They start off sounding stupid. Then they sound crazy the more they talk.
    • The toil of fools wearies them & don’t know which end is up.
  • A land who has a king who was a servant is going to be in bad shape.
    • A land is more blessed when it’s ruler is of noble birth & eats at the proper time for strength & not to get stuffed & drunk.
    • It’s through laziness that the rafters fall because the house will leak due to idle hands not carrying for it.
  • A feast is made for laughter.
    • Wine is made to make us merry.
    • Money is the answer for everything.
  • Don’t hate on the king, even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in private.
    • A little bird will always hear what you say & report it to everyone.

Chapter 11

Invest in Many Ventures

  • Ship grain across the sea & after a while you’ll receive a profit.
    • Invest in 7 or even 8 ventures
      • You never know what disaster will come upon the land.
  • If the clouds are full of water, they will rain on the land.
    • If a tree falls to the north or south, it will lie where it’s fallen.
    • If you watch the wind, you will not plant.
    • If you look at the clouds, you will not reap.
  • You don’t know the path of the wind or how the body is formed in the womb.
    • You can’t understand God, maker of all things.
  • Sow see in the morning but don’t be idle in the evening.
    • You don’t know what will succeed.

Remember Your Creator While Young

  • Light is great – it is pleasing to the eye to see the sun.
    • As many years you live, enjoy them all.
    • But remember the dark days because there will be plenty of them.
    • Everything to come is meaningless.
  • If you are young, be happy while you are young.
    • Let your heart give you joy in your youth.
    • Follow your heart & whatever you see.
    • But just know that God will call you to judgment.
      • Banish worry from your heart & troubles from your body.
      • Youth & vigor are meaningless.

Chapter 12

  • Remember your creator in your youth before the troubles come.
    • Before the days that come when you can find no pleasure in them.
    • Before the sun & light, & the moon & stars grow dark & the clouds rain.
    • Before the housekeepers tremble & the strong stoop & the grinders cease & those who look through windows grow dim.
    • Before the front doors close, before the sounds of birds die off, before people grow fearful of heights & danger in the streets.
    • Before the almond trees blossom & the grasshopper gets bored.
    • People then will go to their eternal home & the mourners will go in the streets.
  • Remember God before all good things in life break or fall apart.
    • Before things stop working
    • Before the dust returns to the ground it came from & the spirit returns to God.
      • All meaningless.

The Conclusion of the Matter

  • The teacher was wise & gave the people knowledge.
    • He thought & searched to give proverbs in the right language.
    • The words of the wise prod us. But be warned of anything added to them.
    • There’s no end to making many books & studying wearies the body.
      • Fear God & keep his commandments – the duty of all mankind.
      • God will judge every deed – hidden or open, good or evil.

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