Advice from the Scholar
Don’t talk so much1When you go to the Temple to worship God, go to listen and learn. Fools go there because they think if they keep bringing sacrifices they can keep sinning.
2Don’t be so quick to talk. And if you’re talking about God,  be careful when you tell people what you think you know. God’s in heaven. You’re on earth. So, keep it short. 3Remember this,
If you worry too much, you can end up dreaming.
If you talk too much, you can end up a fool.
6Don’t let your mouth get you into trouble. If your words lead you into sin, don’t excuse it by telling the priest  that it was simply a mistake. You don’t want to get on bad terms with God. He could punish you by knocking down everything you’ve spent your life building.
7People who daydream too much tend to talk too much and chase the wind. Chase God instead.
Don’t let injustice surprise you8If you travel to a land where rulers treat people horribly and they reject justice, don’t be surprised. That’s how it works. One official covers for another—from the bottom to the top. 9All the land is the king’s land. And he takes his cut from the harvest.
10People who love money never seem to get rich enough to satisfy their greed. They’ll chase the wind, but never catch it.
11The richer you become, the more help you’ll get to spend the money. So, what good is wealth when you just sit there admiring it?
12Hard workers get a sweet night’s sleep, even if they’re poor. But the rich have too much to worry about, and no time to sleep.
When money ruins the rich13I’ve seen something unfair happen to rich people. I’ve seen money ruin their lives. 14They lost all their money in a bad investment. They have children to take care of, but now they don’t have any money left.
15They came into this world with nothing. Now nothing is what they’ve got. After a lifetime of hard work, they have nothing left to show for it. 16It’s a terrible injustice. For a lifetime of chasing the wind, they end up with nothing more than they had when they arrived here as naked little babies.
17What’s left of their lives they spend hidden in the shadows—depressed, angry, and bitter.
Rich or poor, it’s good to enjoy life18Now, here’s what I’ve seen that’s good. It’s wonderful when people enjoy the work they do and the meals they eat. God gives us such a short time here on earth, under the sun. It’s great when we can enjoy the sunshine.
19The same is true for wealthy people. If they enjoy the work that made them rich, and if they enjoy the benefits of the wealth as well, they should consider this a gift from God. 20They won’t waste time worrying about their lives. They’ll be too busy enjoying it.
It’s unclear what the writer means. A more literal transition: “Don’t be quick to utter a word before God.” The word for “before” is paneh. It has a lot of meanings. Some scholars say the writer was telling people not to pray so long.
The Hebrew word is mal’āk. It can mean “messenger,” “representative,” and even “spy.” But the verse seems to refer to accidental sins caused by carelessness (Numbers 15:22-31). In that context, “priest” might be the “representative” the writer had in mind.
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