8 How wonderful to be wise, to understand things, to be able to analyze them and interpret them. Wisdom lights up a man’s face, softening its hardness.
2-3 Obey the king as you have vowed to do. Don’t always be trying to get out of doing your duty, even when it’s unpleasant. For the king punishes those who disobey. 4 The king’s command is backed by great power, and no one can withstand it or question it. 5 Those who obey him will not be punished. The wise man will find a time and a way to do what he says. 6-7 Yes, there is a time and a way for everything, though man’s trouble lies heavy upon him; for how can he avoid what he doesn’t know is going to happen?
8 No one can hold back his spirit from departing; no one has the power to prevent his day of death, for there is no discharge from that obligation and that dark battle. Certainly a man’s wickedness is not going to help him then.
9-10 I have thought deeply about all that goes on here in the world, where people have the power of injuring each other. I have seen wicked men buried, and as their friends returned from the cemetery, having forgotten all the dead man’s evil deeds, these men were praised in the very city where they had committed their many crimes! How odd! 11 Because God does not punish sinners instantly, people feel it is safe to do wrong. 12 But though a man sins a hundred times and still lives, I know very well that those who fear God will be better off, 13 unlike the wicked, who will not live long, good lives—their days shall pass away as quickly as shadows because they don’t fear God.
14 There is a strange thing happening here upon the earth: Providence seems to treat some good men as though they were wicked, and some wicked men as though they were good. This is all very vexing and troublesome!
15 Then I decided to spend my time having fun because I felt that there was nothing better in all the earth than that a man should eat, drink, and be merry, with the hope that this happiness would stick with him in all the hard work that God gives to mankind everywhere.
16-17 In my search for wisdom I observed all that was going on everywhere across the earth—ceaseless activity, day and night. (Of course, only God can see everything, and even the wisest man who says he knows everything, doesn’t!)