Ecclesiastes 1

Nothing has a purpose

1 These are the words of the Teacher, David's son, who ruled as king in Jerusalem.

1:1Jerusalem was the capital city of Israel.

2 The Teacher says, ‘Nothing has a purpose.

Nothing that ever happens has a purpose.’

3 People work very hard while they live on the earth.

But in the end, what do they receive in return for their work?

4 Old people die and then their children live after them.

But the earth continues and it never changes.

5 The sun rises in the morning and it disappears in the evening.

Then it quickly moves to rise again the next morning.

6 The wind blows to the south. Then it turns to the north.

It blows in every direction. Then it starts again.

7 All rivers pour water into the sea, but the sea does not become full.

The water returns to the rivers and it all happens again.

8 Everything continues in the same way.

There is nothing important to talk about.

Nothing that we see is enough to make us happy.

There are always more things that we want to hear.

9 Things that are happening now will continue to happen in the future.

What people have done before, other people will do again.

There is nothing truly new anywhere on the earth.

10 People may say, ‘Look! Here is something new!’

But really it happened long ago, before we were born.

11 People do not remember things that happened in the past.

In the future, people will not remember what has happened either.

Wisdom has no purpose

12 I, the Teacher, ruled Israel as king in Jerusalem. 13 I decided to study everything that happens on the earth. I used wisdom to try to understand these things. I realized that God has given people hard work to do, which causes them to suffer. 14 I thought about all the things that people do on the earth. I realized that all these things have no purpose. It is like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

15 If someone has bent something,

you cannot always make it straight again.

You cannot count things,

if they are not there.

1:15These were probably proverbs. There are things that you cannot change. There are things that you cannot even describe.

16 I said to myself, ‘Listen! I have become very wise! I am much wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I know a lot more things than they ever did!’ 17 So I decided to study how much wisdom and knowledge really help a person. I wanted to learn if it was better than someone who only does foolish things. But this was also useless, like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

18 The more wisdom you have,

the more you will worry.

The more you learn,

the more you suffer.

1:18These were probably also proverbs. The more wisdom and knowledge that a person has, the more that person will understand that life has problems.