The Misery of Human Life
1 Every person has been given a great deal of work to do. A heavy burden lies on all of us from the day of our birth until the day we go back to the earth, the mother of us all. 2 We are confused and fearful, dreading the day of our death— 3-4 all of us from the king on his splendid throne wearing royal robes and a crown, to the humblest person dressed in burlap and living in poverty. 5 All through our lives we meet anger, jealousy, and trouble. Things disturb us; we live with furious conflicts and with the fear of death. Even when we go to bed, we think up new troubles in our sleep. 6 We get little rest, if any at all. When we sleep, it is as if we were awake, disturbed by our imaginations. If we dream that we are running from an enemy, 7 just as we are about to be caught, we wake up and are relieved to find there is nothing to be afraid of.
8 Here is what all creatures, both human and animal, must face (but it is seven times worse for sinners): 9 death, violence, conflict, murder, disaster, famine, sickness, epidemic. 10 All these things were created because of the wicked; they are the ones who have caused destruction. 11 Everything that comes from the earth goes back to the earth, just as all water flows into the sea.
The Results of Evil
12 Nothing that comes from bribery or injustice will last, but the effects of loyalty will remain forever. 13 Wealth that has been obtained dishonestly is like a stream that runs full during a thunderstorm, 14 tumbling rocks along as it flows, but then suddenly goes dry. 15 The children of ungodly people will not leave large families; they are like plants trying to take root on rock, 16 like reeds along a river bank, withering before any other plant. 17 Acts of kindness and charity are as lasting as eternity.
The Joys of Human Life
18 Being independently wealthy or working for a living—both can make life pleasant, but it is better to find a treasure.
19 Your name can be preserved if you have children or if you establish a city, but finding Wisdom is a better way.
Owning livestock and orchards will make you famous, but it is better to have a wife you love.
20 Wine and music can make you happy, but a happy marriage is even better.
21 Flutes and harps make fine music, but a pleasant voice is better than either.
22 Gracefulness and beauty please the eye, but not as much as new growth in the spring.
23 You can't go wrong with a good friend or neighbor, but an intelligent wife is better than either.
24 Relatives and helpers are good to have in times of trouble, but it will be an even greater help if you have made a practice of giving to the poor.
25 Gold and silver provide security, but good advice is better.
26 Wealth and strength give confidence, but the fear of the Lord can give you even greater confidence. When you fear the Lord you need nothing more; it is all the support you need. 27 The fear of the Lord is like a rich garden of blessings; you could not want a more glorious shelter.
28 My child, don't live the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg. 29 If you have to depend on someone else for your food, you are not really living your own life. You pollute yourself by accepting food from another. Begging is torture to the soul of any sensitive person. 30 A shameless person can make begging sound sweet, but something inside him burns.