The Value of Wisdom
A good name is better than fine perfume,
and one’s day of death is better than his day of birth.
It is better to enter a house of mourning
than a house of feasting,
since death is the end of every man,
and the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for a sad countenance is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
It is better to heed a wise man’s rebuke
than to listen to the song of fools.
For like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of the fool. This too is futile.
Surely extortion turns a wise man into a fool,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
The end of a matter is better than the beginning,
and a patient spirit is better than a proud one.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger settles in the lap of a fool.*
10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is unwise of you to ask about this.
11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is good,
and it benefits those who see the sun.
12 For wisdom, like money, is a shelter,
and the advantage of knowledge
is that wisdom preserves the life of its owner.
13 Consider the work of God:
Who can straighten what He has bent?
14 In the day of prosperity, be joyful,
but in the day of adversity, consider this:
God has made one of these along with the other,
so that a man cannot discover
anything that will come after him.
The Limits of Human Wisdom
15 In my futile life I have seen both of these:
A righteous man perishing in his righteousness,
and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.
16 Do not be overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? 17 Do not be excessively wicked, and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is good to grasp the one and not let the other slip from your hand. For he who fears God will follow both warnings.
19 Wisdom makes the wise man
stronger than ten rulers in a city.
20 Surely there is no righteous man on earth
who does good and never sins.
21 Do not pay attention to every word that is spoken, or you may hear your servant cursing you. 22 For you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.
23 All this I tested by wisdom, saying, “I resolve to be wise.” But it was beyond me. 24 What exists is out of reach and very deep. Who can fathom it?
25 I directed my mind to understand, to explore, to search out wisdom and explanations, and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the folly of madness. 26 And I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a net, and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is ensnared.
27 Behold,” says the Teacher, “I have discovered this by adding one thing to another to find an explanation. 28 While my soul was still searching but not finding, among a thousand I have found one upright man, but among all these I have not found one such woman. 29 Only this have I found: I have discovered that God made men upright, but they have sought out many schemes.”
* 7:9 Hebrew in the bosom of fools 7:18 Or will avoid all extremes