Be Careful About Making Promises
1 Be very careful when you go to worship God. It is better to listen to God than to give sacrifices like fools. Fools often do bad things, and they don’t even know it. 2 Be careful when you make promises to God. Be careful about what you say to him. Don’t let your feelings cause you to speak too soon. God is in heaven, and you are on the earth. So you need to say only a few things to him. This saying is true:
3 Bad dreams come from too many worries,
and too many words come from the mouth of a fool.
If you make a promise to God, keep your promise. Don’t be slow to do what you promised. God is not happy with fools. Give God what you promised to give him. 5
It is better to promise nothing than to promise something and not be able to do it. 6
So don’t let your words cause you to sin. Don’t say to the priest,*
“I didn’t mean what I said.” If you do this, God might become angry with your words and destroy everything you have worked for. 7
You should not let your useless dreams and bragging bring you trouble. You should respect God.
For Every Ruler There Is a Ruler
In some country you will see poor people who are forced to work very hard. You will see that this is not fair to them. It is against their rights. But don’t be surprised! The ruler who forces them to work has another ruler who forces him. And there is still another ruler who forces both of these rulers. 9
Even the king is a slave—his country owns him.†
Wealth Cannot Buy Happiness
10 Those who love money will never be satisfied with the money they have. Those who love wealth will not be satisfied when they get more and more. This is also senseless.
11 The more wealth people have, the more “friends” they have to help spend it. So the rich really gain nothing. They can only look at their wealth.
12 Those who work hard all day come home and sleep in peace. It is not important if they have little or much to eat. But the rich worry about their wealth and are not able to sleep.
There is a very sad thing that I have seen happen in this life.‡
People save their money for the future.§ 14
Then something bad happens and they lose everything. So they have nothing to give to their children.
15 People come into the world with nothing. And when they die, they leave with nothing. They might work hard to get things, but they cannot take anything with them when they die. 16 It is very sad that people leave the world just as they came. So what does a person gain from “trying to catch the wind”? 17 They only get days that are filled with sadness and sorrow. In the end, they are troubled, sick, and angry.
Enjoy Your Life’s Work
18 I have seen what is best for people to do on earth: They should eat, drink, and enjoy the work they have during their short time here. God has given them these few days, and that is all they have.
If God gives some people wealth, property, and the power to enjoy those things, they should enjoy them. They should accept the things they have and enjoy their work—that is a gift from God. 20
People don’t have many years to live, so they must remember these things all their life. God will keep them busy with the work they love to do.*