(1) How wonderful to be wise, to be able to analyze and interpret things. Wisdom lights up a person’s face, softening its hardness. (2) Obey the king because you have vowed before God to do this. (3) Don’t try to avoid doing your duty, and don’t take a stand with those who plot evil. For the king will punish those who disobey him. (4) The king’s command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it. (5) Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right.
(6) Yes, there is a time and a way for everything, even as people’s troubles lie heavily upon them. (7) Indeed, how can people avoid what they don’t know is going to happen? (8) None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death. There is no escaping that obligation, that dark battle. And in the face of death, wickedness will certainly not rescue those who practice it.
(9) I have thought deeply about all that goes on here in the world, where people have the power to hurt each other. (10) I have seen wicked people buried with honor. How strange that they were the very ones who frequented the Temple and are praised in the very city where they committed their crimes! (11) When a crime is not punished, people feel it is safe to do wrong. (12) But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. (13) The wicked will never live long, good lives, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows.
(14) And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless! (15) So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them. (16) In my search for wisdom, I tried to observe everything that goes on all across the earth. I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. (17) This reminded me that no one can discover everything God has created in our world, no matter how hard they work at it. Not even the wisest people know everything, even if they say they do.