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ESV — Through the Bible in a Year: Day 261
261
Morning
Ecclesiastes 1-3

Evening
2 Corinthians 9

All Is Vanity

The words of athe Preacher,1 the son of David, bking in Jerusalem.

cVanity2 of vanities, says athe Preacher,

cvanity of vanities! dAll is vanity.

eWhat fdoes man gain by all the toil

at which he toils under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes,

but gthe earth remains forever.

hThe sun rises, and the sun goes down,

and hastens3 to the place where it rises.

iThe wind blows to the south

and goes around to the north;

around and around goes the wind,

and on its circuits the wind returns.

All jstreams run to the sea,

but the sea is not full;

to the place where the streams flow,

there they flow again.

All things are full of weariness;

a man cannot utter it;

kthe eye is not satisfied with seeing,

nor the ear filled with hearing.

lWhat has been is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done,

and there is nothing new under the sun.

10  Is there a thing of which it is said,

“See, this is new”?

It has been malready

in the ages before us.

11  There is no nremembrance of former things,4

nor will there be any remembrance

of later things5 yet to be

among those who come after.

The Vanity of Wisdom

12 I othe Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I papplied my heart6 to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy qbusiness that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is rvanity7 and a striving after wind.8

15  sWhat is crooked cannot be made straight,

and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great twisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I uapplied my heart to know wisdom and to know vmadness and folly. I perceived that this also is but ra striving after wind.

18  For win much wisdom is much vexation,

and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

The Vanity of Self-Indulgence

I xsaid in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.9 I ysaid of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I zsearched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on afolly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I bbuilt houses and planted cvineyards for myself. I made myself dgardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had eslaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of fherds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and ggold and the treasure of hkings and iprovinces. I got jsingers, both men and women, and many kconcubines,10 the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and lsurpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my lwisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart mfound pleasure in all my toil, and this was my nreward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was ovanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing pto be gained under the sun.

The Vanity of Living Wisely

12 qSo I turned to consider rwisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only swhat has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. 14 tThe wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the usame event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, v“What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is wno enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. xHow the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for oall is vanity and a striving after wind.

The Vanity of Toil

18 I hated yall my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must zleave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I aturned about and gave my heart up to despair bover all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from call the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 For dall his days are full of sorrow, and his ework is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

24 fThere is nothing better for a person than that he should geat and drink and find enjoyment11 in his toil. This also, I saw, is hfrom the hand of God, 25 for apart from him12 who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him iGod has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given ethe business of gathering and collecting, jonly to give to one who pleases God. kThis also is vanity and a striving after wind.

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and la time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to mdie;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to nweep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to odance;

a time to pcast away stones, and a time to qgather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to rrefrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to slose;

a time to keep, and a time to tcast away;

a time to utear, and a time to sew;

a time to vkeep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to whate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

The God-Given Task

What xgain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen ythe business that zGod has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has amade everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot bfind out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is cnothing better for them than to be joyful and to ddo good as long as they live; 13 also ethat everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is fGod's gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; gnothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, halready has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God iseeks what has been driven away.13

From Dust to Dust

16 Moreover, jI saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even kthere was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. 17 I said in my heart, lGod will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is ma time for every matter and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but nbeasts. 19 oFor what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.14 20 All go to one place. All are from pthe dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows whether qthe spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is rnothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for sthat is his lot. Who can bring him to see twhat will be after him?

Footnotes

[1] 1:1 Or Convener, or Collector; Hebrew Qoheleth (so throughout Ecclesiastes)
[2] 1:2 The Hebrew term hebel, translated vanity or vain, refers concretely to a “mist,” “vapor,” or “mere breath,” and metaphorically to something that is fleeting or elusive (with different nuances depending on the context). It appears five times in this verse and in 29 other verses in Ecclesiastes
[3] 1:5 Or and returns panting
[4] 1:11 Or former people
[5] 1:11 Or later people
[6] 1:13 The Hebrew term denotes the center of one's inner life, including mind, will, and emotions
[7] 1:14 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
[8] 1:14 Or a feeding on wind; compare Hosea 12:1 (also in Ecclesiastes 1:17; 2:11, 17, 26; 4:4, 6, 16; 6:9)
[9] 2:1 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26 (see note on 1:2)
[10] 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
[11] 2:24 Or and make his soul see good
[12] 2:25 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts apart from me
[13] 3:15 Hebrew what has been pursued
[14] 3:19 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)


The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem

Now lit is superfluous for me to write to you about mthe ministry for the saints, for I know your readiness, nof which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready osince last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But pI am sending1 the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, qas I said you would be. Otherwise, if some Macedonians rcome with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the sgift2 you have promised, so that it may be ready tas a willing gift, unot as an exaction.3

The Cheerful Giver

The point is this: vwhoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully4 will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, wnot reluctantly or under compulsion, for xGod loves a cheerful giver. And yGod is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency5 in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

z“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies aseed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and bincrease the harvest of your righteousness. 11 cYou will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which dthrough us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying ethe needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, fthey6 will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your gconfession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 hThanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Footnotes

[1] 9:3 Or I have sent
[2] 9:5 Greek blessing; twice in this verse
[3] 9:5 Or a gift expecting something in return; Greek greed
[4] 9:6 Greek with blessings; twice in this verse
[5] 9:8 Or all contentment
[6] 9:13 Or you