International Standard Version
The Purposes in God’s Timing
1There is a season for everything,
and a time for every event under heaven:a
2a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted;
3a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build up;
4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5a time to scatter stones, and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to keep, and a time to discard;
7a time to tear, and a time to mend;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak;
8a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
The Purpose of Life
9What benefit does the worker gain from what he undertakes? 10I have observed the burdens placed by God on human beings in order to perfect them. 11He made everything appropriate in its time. He also placed eternity within them—yet, no person can fully comprehend what God is doing from beginning to end.
12I have concluded that the only worthwhile thing for them is to take pleasure in doing good in life; 13moreover, every person should eat, drink, and enjoy the benefits of everything that he undertakes, since it is a gift from God.
14I have concluded that everything that God undertakes will last for eternity—nothing can be added to it nor taken away from it—and that God acts this way so that people will fear him. 15That which was, now is; and that which will be, already is; and God examines what has already taken place.
From Dust to Dust
16I also examined on earth:
where the halls of justice were supposed to be,
there was lawlessness;
and where the righteous were supposed to be,c
there was lawlessness.
18“As for human beings,” I told myself, “God puts them to the test, that they might see themselves as mere animals.” 19For what happens to people also happens to animals—a single event happens to them: just as someone dies, so does the other. In fact, they all breathe the same way, so that a human being has no superiority over an animal. All of this is pointless. 20All of them go to one place: all of them originate from dust, and all of them return to dust.
21Who knows whethere the spirit of human beings ascends, and whetherf the spirit of animals descends to the earth? 22I concluded that it is worthwhile for people to find joy in their accomplishments, because that is their inheritance, since who can see what will exist after them?
a 3:1 i.e. from a heavenly perspective
b 3:6 The Heb. lacks searching
c 3:16 Lit. and the place of judgment
d 3:17 The Heb. lacks to judge
e 3:21 So LXX. The Heb. lacks whether
f 3:21 So LXX. The Heb. lacks whether