The Word Made Fresh
1Who is wise? Who knows how to interpret things? Wisdom brightens a man’s face and softens his countenance.
2Keep the king’s command because of your sacred promise. 3Don’t be afraid. Leave his presence when a matter is unpleasant. The king will do what the king will do, 4for his word is powerful, and no one can say to him, “What are you doing?” 5Whoever obeys the king’s command will come to no harm. Wisdom knows the time and the way. 6Everything has it own time and way even when troubles weigh heavy. 7In fact, we don’t know what will happen because no one can tell us. 8No one controls the wind. No one controls the day of death. No one is excused from the battle. But wickedness won’t deliver those who practice it.
9I observed all these things done under the sun. One person has authority over another to the other’s hurt.
10Then I saw that the wicked were buried, who used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised in the city where they had lived. This is also vain. 11Since sentence isn’t passed on a wicked act speedily, the human heart is set to do evil. 12And even though sinners commit their sins a hundred times and prolong their lives, I know that it will be well with those who stand in fear before God. 13But not so the wicked. Nor will their days be lengthened like shadows because they don’t stand in fear before God.
14Here is another vanity that takes place in the world: There are good people who are treated as if their conduct is wicked, and there are wicked people who are treated as if their conduct is good. This is also meaningless. 15So I recommend enjoyment. There is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat and drink and enjoy themselves. This will accompany them through the days of life God gives them under the sun.
16When I studied wisdom, to see the business done on earth, and how one’s eyes see no sleep day or night, 17then I understood God’s work, that no one can find out what is happening under the sun. It doesn’t matter how hard they search they won’t find it. Even those who are wise and claim to know can’t find it out.
1: Wisdom is again identified as the source of joy in life.
2-9: A king’s authority is not to be challenged, and if his judgments are capricious the best thing to do is obey and stay out of his way.
10-13: On the surface it may appear that the wicked benefit from their wickedness, but ultimately justice will prevail.
14-15: Yet, because the wicked sometimes do profit and the righteous sometimes suffer, the best course of action is to eat, drink and be merry and enjoy your work. Learning to be satisfied with and enjoy your work seems to be the crux of the matter.
16-17: No one will ever be wise enough, however, to figure God out.
The Preacher continues his search for the meaning of life, and the contrast between the wicked and the good. Being content with one’s work is at the core of his advice. Focus on that, and don’t be drawn into the schemes of the wicked.