I am A Man of Letters. I’ve been reading lately, and I have found some words I would like to share. Today, selections from “Ecclesiastes.” “Ecclesiastes” is found in the Christian Bible as well as the Hebrew Torah. It was composed by an anonymous author in the Third Century.
A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter: for by sadness the countenance the heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.
Surely oppression makes a wise man mad; and a gift destroys the heart.
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Be not hasty in your spirit to be angry: for anger rests in the bosom of fools.
Say not, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for you do not enquire wisely concerning this.
Wisdom is good with an inheritance: and by it there is profit to them that see the sun.
For wisdom is a defense, and money is a defense: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom gives life to them that have it.
Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which He has made crooked?
In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also has set the one against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.
All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongs his life in his wickedness.
Be not righteous over much; neither make yourself over wise: why should you destroy yourself?
Be not over much wicked, neither be foolish: why should you die before your time?
It is good that you should take hold of this; yes, also from this withdraw not your hand: for he that fears God shall come forth of them all.
Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten mighty men who are in the city.
For there is not a just man upon Earth, that does good, and sins not.
Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest you hear your servant curse you:
For oftentimes also your own heart knows that you yourself have cursed others.
All this have I proved by wisdom: I said, I will be wise; but it was far from me.
That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?
I applied my heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands: who so pleases God shall escape from her; but the sinner shall be taken by her.
Behold, this have I found, saith the Preacher, counting one by one, to find out the account:
Which yet my soul seeks, but I find not: one man among a thousand have I found; but a woman among all those have I not found.
Lo, this only have I found, that God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.
Who is as the wise man? and who knows the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom makes his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
I counsel you to keep the King’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.
Be not hasty to go out of His sight: stand not in an evil thing; for He does whatsoever pleases Him.
Where the word of a King is, there is power: and who may say to him, What do you?
Whoso keeps the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment.
Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.
For he knows not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?
There is no man that has power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither has he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.
All this have I seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man rules over another to his own hurt.
And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before Him:
But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he fears not before God.
There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.
Then I commended mirth, because a man has no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labor the days of his life, which God gives him under the sun.
When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done upon the Earth: (for also there is that neither day nor night sees sleep with his eyes:)
Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yet, further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.
For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knows either love or hatred by all that is before them.
All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrifices, and to him that sacrifices not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that swears, as he that fears an oath.
This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yes, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now accepts your works.
Let your garments be always white; and let your head lack no ointment.
Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of the life of your vanity, which He has given you under the sun, all the days of your vanity: for that is your portion in this life, and in your labor which you take under the sun.
Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave where you go.
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.
For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.
This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great King against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:
Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.
The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that rules among fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroys much good.
Thank you for listening. For more information about the words I have read, please visit A Man of Letters. amoletters.com.
Until I return, I am… A Man of Letters.