September 22: Ecclesiastes 4–6; Philemon 4–7; Psalm 77; Proverbs 24:7


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Ecclesiastes 4–6

Evil Under the Sun

Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanityThe Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 7, 8, 16 (see note on 1:2)’>1 and a striving after wind.

The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.

Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.

Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 14 For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with thatHebrew the second‘>2 youth who was to stand in the king’sHebrew his‘>3 place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Fear God

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.

When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead youHebrew your flesh‘>4 into sin, and do not say before the messengerOr angel‘>5 that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity;The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verse 10 (see note on 1:2)’>6 butOr For when dreams and vanities increase, words also grow many; but‘>7 God is the one you must fear.

The Vanity of Wealth and Honor

If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain’>8

10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

13 There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, 14 and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. 15 As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. 16 This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? 17 Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoymentOr and see good‘>9 in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity;The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 4, 9, 11 (see note on 1:2)’>10 it is a grievous evil. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoyOr see‘>11 no good—do not all go to the one place?

All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.Hebrew filled‘>12 For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

10 Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he. 11 The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? 12 For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vainThe Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)’>13 life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

Philemon 4–7

Philemon’s Love and Faith

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.Or for Christ’s service“>1 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Psalm 77

In the Day of Trouble I Seek the Lord

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.

77   I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
  In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
  When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

  You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
  I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.
  I said,Hebrew lacks I said‘>1 “Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
  “Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
  Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
  Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

10   Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”Or This is my grief: that the right hand of the Most High has changed‘>2

11   I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12   I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13   Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14   You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
15   You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

16   When the waters saw you, O God,
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
17   The clouds poured out water;
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
18   The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19   Your way was through the sea,
    your path through the great waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.Hebrew unknown‘>3
20   You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Proverbs 24:7

  Wisdom is too high for a fool;
    in the gate he does not open his mouth.


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