8 Don't be too upset when you see the poor kicked around, and justice and right violated all over the place. Exploitation filters down from one petty official to another. There's no end to it, and nothing can be done about it. But the good earth doesn't cheat anyone - even a bad king is honestly served by a field.
The one who loves money is never satisfied with money,
Nor the one who loves wealth with big profits. More smoke. 11 The more loot you get, the more looters show up.
And what fun is that - to be robbed in broad daylight? 12 Hard and honest work earns a good night's sleep,
Whether supper is beans or steak.
But a rich man's belly gives him insomnia.
Here's a piece of bad luck I've seen happen:
A man hoards far more wealth than is good for him
And then loses it all in a bad business deal.
He fathered a child but hasn't a cent left to give him.
He arrived naked from the womb of his mother;
He'll leave in the same condition - with nothing.
This is bad luck, for sure - naked he came, naked he went.
So what was the point of working for a salary of smoke?
All for a miserable life spent in the dark?
18 After looking at the way things are on this earth, here's what I've decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that's about it. That's the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what's given and delighting in the work. It's God's gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It's useless to brood over how long we might live.
1 I looked long and hard at what goes on around here, and let me tell you, things are bad. And people feel it. There are people, for instance, on whom God showers everything - money, property, reputation - all they ever wanted or dreamed of. And then God doesn't let them enjoy it. Some stranger comes along and has all the fun. It's more of what I'm calling smoke. A bad business. 3 Say a couple have scores of children and live a long, long life but never enjoy themselves - even though they end up with a big funeral! I'd say that a stillborn baby gets the better deal. It gets its start in a mist and ends up in the dark - unnamed. It sees nothing and knows nothing, but is better off by far than anyone living. 6 Even if someone lived a thousand years - make it two thousand! - but didn't enjoy anything, what's the point? Doesn't everyone end up in the same place?
We work to feed our appetites;
Meanwhile our souls go hungry. 8 So what advantage has a sage over a fool, or over some poor wretch who barely gets by? Just grab whatever you can while you can; don't assume something better might turn up by and by. All it amounts to anyway is smoke. And spitting into the wind.
Whatever happens, happens. Its destiny is fixed.
You can't argue with fate. 11 The more words that are spoken, the more smoke there is in the air. And who is any better off? And who knows what's best for us as we live out our meager smoke-and-shadow lives? And who can tell any of us the next chapter of our lives?