Ecclesiastes 8

1 This is what I know about people who are truly wise.

They know how to explain things.

Wisdom helps a person to be happy.

It causes them to smile even when they have trouble.

Obey the king

2 You promised God that you would serve the king faithfully.

So obey the king's commands.

3 If you are with the king,

do not leave in a hurry.

Do not join with people who plan turn against him.

Remember that the king can do anything that he wants to do.

4 The king's command has complete power.

Nobody can tell him that he is wrong.

5 Trouble will not come to anyone who obeys the king's command.

A wise person knows the right time to do things.

He also knows the right way to do them.

6 There is a right time for things to happen.

There is a right way to do things.

But trouble comes to people anyway.

7 Nobody knows what will happen in the future.

Nobody can tell us about it.

8 Nobody has the power to control the wind.

Also, nobody has the power to decide the day of their death.

Soldiers are not allowed to leave a battle.

Also, if people do wicked things,

that will not rescue them.

Things happen that are not fair

9 I saw all these things that happen on the earth. I thought about them a lot. I thought about the things that happen on the earth. I saw that people sometimes use their power to hurt other people.

10 I also saw that some wicked people receive honour after their death. Those wicked people had gone in and out of the holy place. People praised them in the city where they had done evil things. This also is difficult to understand.

11 People who are guilty should receive their punishment quickly. If that does not happen, other people also want to do evil things. 12 People who do lots of wicked things may live for a long time. But if someone respects and obeys God, they will surely enjoy a good life. 13 Wicked people will surely not enjoy a good life. Their lives will be like a shadow that quickly disappears. They do not respect God, so they will not live for a long time.

14 But this is something else that is difficult to understand: Sometimes righteous people suffer in the way the wicked people deserve. And sometimes wicked people enjoy the good things that righteous people deserve. I think that this is difficult to understand.

Enjoy life

15 So I think that we should enjoy our lives. People should be happy to eat, drink and enjoy their lives. That is the best thing for them to do. It will help them to enjoy the work that they do during their lives. That is the life which God has given them on the earth.

16 I tried very much to become wise. I wanted to understand the things that people do on the earth. People work in the day and in the night and they do not sleep. 17 I thought about everything that God has done. I realized that nobody understands everything that happens on the earth. Even if they try very much, they will not know everything. A wise person may say that he understands all these things. But really that is not possible.