Ecclesiastes 4

Is It Better to Be Dead?

4 Again I saw all the people who were mistreated here on earth.

I saw their tears
and that they had no one to comfort them.
Cruel people had all the power,
and there was no one to comfort those they hurt.
2 I decided that the dead
are better off than the living.
3 But those who have never been born
are better off still;
they have not seen the evil
that is done here on earth.

Why Work So Hard?

4 I realized the reason people work hard and try to succeed: They are jealous of each other. This, too, is useless, like chasing the wind.

5 Some say it is foolish to fold your hands and do nothing,
because you will starve to death.
6 Maybe so, but I say it is better to be content
with what little you have.
Otherwise, you will always be struggling for more,
and that is like chasing the wind.

7 Again I saw something here on earth that was useless:
8 I saw a man who had no family,
no son or brother.
He always worked hard
but was never satisfied with what he had.
He never asked himself, “For whom am I working so hard?
Why don’t I let myself enjoy life?”
This also is very sad and useless.

Friends and Family Give Strength

9 Two people are better than one,
because they get more done by working together.
10 If one falls down,
the other can help him up.
But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls,
because no one is there to help.
11 If two lie down together, they will be warm,
but a person alone will not be warm.
12 An enemy might defeat one person,
but two people together can defend themselves;
a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break.

Fame and Power Are Useless

13 A poor but wise boy is better than a foolish but old king who doesn’t listen to advice. 14 A boy became king. He had been born poor in the kingdom and had even gone to prison before becoming king. 15 I watched all the people who live on earth follow him and make him their king. 16 Many followed him at first, but later, they did not like him, either. So fame and power are useless, like chasing the wind.

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