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Ecclesiastes 1

Nothing has a purpose

1 These are the Teacher's words. The Teacher was David's son. The Teacher was a king. He lived in a city that was called Jerusalem. There he ruled his country.

2 ‘Nothing has a purpose’, he said.

‘None of the things that happen has a purpose.’

3 People work for their whole lives.

But they get nothing for the work that they do here on the earth.

4 People are born and they live on the earth. At the end of their lives, they die.

But the earth continues as it has always continued.

5 The sun still rises in the morning and it goes down in the evening.

And it does the same thing each day.

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

It blows round and round, but it always returns.

7 All rivers go to the sea, but they never fill the sea.

In the end, the water returns. It returns to where it came from.

8 Life makes us tired. It makes us so tired that we could not tell anyone about it.

Nothing that we see can ever make us happy.

Nothing that we hear will ever cause true pleasure for us.

9 Future events will be the same as past events were.

What people have done, they will do again.

There is nothing that is new anywhere on the earth.

10 We can say, ‘Look! Here is something new.’

But it is not true! It was here already, many years ago.

It was here before we were born.

We soon forget people who have died.

11 We do not remember what they did many years ago.

It will be the same in future years.

People will remember things that they have seen during their lives.

But many events happened before they were born. They will not remember those events.

Wisdom has no purpose

12 I said these things when I was the king of my country, Israel. I lived in the city called Jerusalem. There I ruled my country. 13 I also studied a lot and I was very wise. I thought about the things that happen here on the earth. And I tried to understand them. But God has made this very difficult for us to do. 14 I have seen all the things that happen on the earth. There is no reason for any of them. It is like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

15 People may do things that are wrong.

This is like something that you have bent.

When you have bent it, you cannot make it straight again.

Neither can you count things that are not there.

16 ‘I have become a really great man’, I told myself. ‘There have been other kings who have ruled in Jerusalem. But I am more wise than any of them’, I thought. 17 I wanted to learn all that I could learn about wisdom. I also wanted to know how a fool thinks. But this, too, was like somebody who tries to catch the wind.

18 If I learn to be very wise, I will be very sad.

If I learn a lot about many things, that will be very painful for me.

1:18The Teacher is very honest. He does not say that life is good. He knows that it is not always good. Without God's wisdom, he cannot understand the things that happen on the earth.