Old Testament

Ecclesiastes 8
81Who is such a wise man? And who knows how to explain a situation? A man's wisdom makes his face shine and softens the hard look on his face.
2Obey the king's command[] because of your oath before God.[] 3Do not quickly leave his presence. Do not stand up for[] a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. 4For a king's word is supreme, and who will say to him, “What are you doing?”
5Whoever obeys a command will experience no harm, and a wise heart will know the right time and the right way to act, 6because for each situation there is a right time and a right way to act, although evil may weigh a man down. 7But no one knows what will be. Indeed, who can tell him what will be?[]
8As no one has power to restrain the wind, there is no power over the day of death. No discharge is granted during war, and wickedness will not deliver those who practice it.
Life Is Not Fair
9All this I saw, while I was applying my heart to every work done under the sun, during this time when one man has power over another to harm him.[] 10While doing this, I have seen wicked people buried. They had come and gone from the holy place, and they were praised[] in the city where they had done so! This too is vapor.
11When the sentence for a crime is not carried out quickly, people's hearts are emboldened to do evil.
12Though a sinner commits a hundred crimes and lives for a long time,[] I nevertheless know that it will turn out well for those who fear God, who stand in awe before him. 13But it will not be good for the wicked. Such a man will not lengthen his days like a shadow, since he does not stand in fear before God.
14Another example of vapor that appears on the earth is when righteous people get what the wicked deserve for their actions, and wicked people get what the righteous deserve for their actions. I said, “This too is vapor.”
15So I sang the praises of pleasure, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. Such joy will stay with him during his hard work, throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.
16When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to observe the tiresome business done on the earth (even though it keeps a person from sleeping day or night), 17I saw everything that God has done, but no man can grasp all the work that is done under the sun. No matter how hard a man works to explore it, he cannot discover it all. Even if the wise man claims to know it, he cannot find it.


  • 8:2 The translation follows the ancient versions and some Hebrew manuscripts. The main Hebrew reading is I obey the king's command or I say, obey the king's command.
  • 8:2 Or God's oath to him
  • 8:3 Or persist in
  • 8:7 Or who can tell him when it will happen
  • 8:9 Or one man has power over another to his own detriment
  • 8:10 The translation follows the Greek and some Hebrew manuscripts. Most Hebrew manuscripts read but they were forgotten.
  • 8:12 Or gets away with it