The Misery of Human Life 40 1Every person has been given a great deal of work to do. A heavy burden lies on all of us from the day of our birth until the day we go back to the earth, the mother of us all. 2We are confused and fearful, dreading the day of our death— 343-4all of us from the king on his splendid throne wearing royal robes and a crown, to the humblest person dressed in burlap and living in poverty. 5All through our lives we meet anger, jealousy, and trouble. Things disturb us; we live with furious conflicts and with the fear of death. Even when we go to bed, we think up new troubles in our sleep. 6We get little rest, if any at all. When we sleep, it is as if we were awake, disturbed by our imaginations. If we dream that we are running from an enemy, 7just as we are about to be caught,[I] we wake up and are relieved to find there is nothing to be afraid of. 8Here is what all creatures, both human and animal, must face (but it is seven times worse for sinners): 9death, violence, conflict, murder, disaster, famine, sickness, epidemic. 10All these things were created because of the wicked; they are the ones who have caused destruction.[J] 11Everything that comes from the earth goes back to the earth, just as all water flows into the sea. The Results of Evil 12Nothing that comes from bribery or injustice will last, but the effects of loyalty will remain forever. 13Wealth that has been obtained dishonestly is like a stream that runs full during a thunderstorm, 14tumbling rocks along as it flows, but then suddenly goes dry.[K] 15The children of ungodly people will not leave large families; they are like plants trying to take root on rock, 16like reeds along a river bank, withering[L] before any other plant. 17Acts of kindness and charity are as lasting as eternity.[M] The Joys of Human Life 18Being independently wealthy or working for a living—both can make life pleasant, but it is better to find a treasure. 19Your name can be preserved if you have children or if you establish a city, but finding Wisdom is a better way. Owning livestock and orchards will make you famous,[N] but it is better to have a wife you love.[O] 20Wine and music can make you happy, but a happy marriage[P] is even better. 21Flutes and harps make fine music, but a pleasant voice is better than either. 22Gracefulness and beauty please the eye, but not as much as new growth in the spring. 23You can't go wrong with a good friend or neighbor, but an intelligent wife is[Q] better than either. 24Relatives and helpers are good to have in times of trouble, but it will be an even greater help if you have made a practice of giving to the poor. 25Gold and silver provide security, but good advice is better. 26Wealth and strength give confidence, but the fear of the Lord can give you even greater confidence. When you fear the Lord you need nothing more; it is all the support you need. 27The fear of the Lord is like a rich garden of blessings; you could not want a more glorious shelter. Begging 28My child, don't live the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg. 29If you have to depend on someone else for your food, you are not really living your own life. You pollute yourself by accepting food from another. Begging is torture to the soul of any sensitive person.[R] 30A shameless person can make begging sound sweet, but something inside him burns.
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