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1Who is like the wise man?

And who knows the interpretation of a thing?

A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,

and the hardness of his countenance is changed.

2Keep the king’s command, and because of your sacred oath be not dismayed; 3go from his presence, do not delay when the matter is unpleasant, for he does whatever he pleases. 4For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?” 5He who obeys a command will meet no harm, and the mind of a wise man will know the time and way. 6For every matter has its time and way, although man’s trouble lies heavy upon him. 7For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be? 8No man has power to retain the spirit, or authority over the day of death; there is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it. 9All this I observed while applying my mind to all that is done under the sun, while man lords it over man to his hurt.

10Then I saw the wicked buried; they used to go in and out of the holy place, and were praised in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. 11Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil. 12Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him; 13but it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

14There is a vanity which takes place on earth, that there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. 15And I commend enjoyment, for man has no good thing under the sun but to eat and drink and enjoy himself, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of life which God gives him under the sun.

16When I applied my mind to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night one’s eyes see sleep; 17then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out; even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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