The psalmist envisioned a beautiful river that flows through the city of God, a place in which God has no enemies and where peace abounds. Right now you may be in the midst of tremendous struggle and difficulty, but inwardly that river can continue to flow. In spite of violent earthquakes, crumbling mountains, or roaring oceans (Psalm 46:2-3), you can still enjoy perfect peace. "Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world" (v. 10).
Paul experienced the continual trouble of the outward man, but he never lost the inward flow of life. He said, "We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything" (2 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Check your "river" today. Has it become choked and clogged by outward pressures, or is it still flowing freely? God lives in the city where the river flows. That city cannot be destroyed (Psalm 46:5), and neither can you if you remain in "the sacred home of the Most High" (v. 4).
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
3 What do people gain from all their labors
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
12 I, the Teacher,
15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me;
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
2 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
than what has already been done?
just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
15 Then I said to myself,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
I said to myself,
“This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil?
15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.
16 And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself,
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.”
18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.
1 These are the words of the Teacher,
2 “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
3 What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?4 Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.5 The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again.6 The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles.7 Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea.8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.
9 History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.11 We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.
12 I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem.13 I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.14 I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.
15 What is wrong cannot be made right.
What is missing cannot be recovered.
16 I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.”17 So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.
18 The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief.
To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.
2 I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless.2 So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?”3 After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world.
4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees.6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves.7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me.8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!
9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors.11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.
12 So I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and madness (for who can do this better than I, the king?
17 So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind.
18 I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned.19 And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless!20 So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world.
21 Some people work wisely with knowledge and skill, then must leave the fruit of their efforts to someone who hasn’t worked for it. This, too, is meaningless, a great tragedy.22 So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety?23 Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.
24 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God.25 For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him?
3 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do people really get for all their hard work?10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.15 What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.
16 I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt!17 I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”
18 I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals.19 For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe
1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?
4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.
6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.
7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.
8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.
14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.
17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
2 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity.
2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it?
3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life.
4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards:
5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits:
6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees:
7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me:
8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me.
10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour.
11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.
12 And I turned myself to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly: for what can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done.
13 Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness.
14 The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.
15 Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.
16 For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.
17 Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
18 Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.
19 And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.
20 Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.
21 For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and in knowledge, and in equity; yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion. This also is vanity and a great evil.
22 For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?
23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.
24 There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.
25 For who can eat, or who else can hasten hereunto, more than I?
26 For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path,
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.
6 As God’s partners,
“At just the right time, I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you.”
Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.
3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,
11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you.12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us.13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
6 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.
12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
13 Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
and the mountains quake
God will help
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
9 He makes wars
to the ends of the earth.
I will be exalted in the earth.”
1 God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude
4 A river brings joy to the city of our God,
the sacred home of the Most High.
5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
From the very break of day, God will protect it.
6 The nations are in chaos,
and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
and the earth melts!
7 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude
46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
15 A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness,
but physical discipline will drive it far away.
15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.