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ESV: Through the Bible in a Year
In this online version of the popular tract, each day includes a reading from the Old Testament and New Testament. Starting in Genesis and Matthew, the readings continue sequentially. Over the course of a year, you will never read the same passage twice.

  • September 22: Song of Solomon 4–5; 2 Corinthians 13

    Morning: Song of Solomon 4–5 Song of Solomon 4–5

    Song of Solomon 4-5

    Solomon Admires His Bride's Beauty

    He

      Behold, you are beautiful, my love,
        behold, you are beautiful!
      Your eyes are doves
        behind your veil.
      Your hair is like a flock of goats
        leaping down the slopes of Gilead.
      Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
        that have come up from the washing,
      all of which bear twins,
        and not one among them has lost its young.
      Your lips are like a scarlet thread,
        and your mouth is lovely.
      Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
        behind your veil.
      Your neck is like the tower of David,
        built in rows of stone;1
      on it hang a thousand shields,
        all of them shields of warriors.
      Your two breasts are like two fawns,
        twins of a gazelle,
        that graze among the lilies.
      Until the day breathes
        and the shadows flee,
      I will go away to the mountain of myrrh
        and the hill of frankincense.
      You are altogether beautiful, my love;
        there is no flaw in you.
      Come with me from Lebanon, my bride;
        come with me from Lebanon.
      Depart2 from the peak of Amana,
        from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
      from the dens of lions,
        from the mountains of leopards.
      You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
        you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
        with one jewel of your necklace.
      How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
        How much better is your love than wine,
        and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!
      Your lips drip nectar, my bride;
        honey and milk are under your tongue;
        the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
      A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
        a spring locked, a fountain sealed.
      Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
        with all choicest fruits,
        henna with nard,
      nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
        with all trees of frankincense,
      myrrh and aloes,
        with all choice spices—
      a garden fountain, a well of living water,
        and flowing streams from Lebanon.
      Awake, O north wind,
        and come, O south wind!
      Blow upon my garden,
        let its spices flow.

    Together in the Garden of Love

    She

      Let my beloved come to his garden,
        and eat its choicest fruits.

    He

      I came to my garden, my sister, my bride,
        I gathered my myrrh with my spice,
        I ate my honeycomb with my honey,
        I drank my wine with my milk.

    Others

      Eat, friends, drink,
        and be drunk with love!

    The Bride Searches for Her Beloved

    She

      I slept, but my heart was awake.
      A sound! My beloved is knocking.
      “Open to me, my sister, my love,
        my dove, my perfect one,
      for my head is wet with dew,
        my locks with the drops of the night.”
      I had put off my garment;
        how could I put it on?
      I had bathed my feet;
        how could I soil them?
      My beloved put his hand to the latch,
        and my heart was thrilled within me.
      I arose to open to my beloved,
        and my hands dripped with myrrh,
      my fingers with liquid myrrh,
        on the handles of the bolt.
      I opened to my beloved,
        but my beloved had turned and gone.
      My soul failed me when he spoke.
      I sought him, but found him not;
        I called him, but he gave no answer.
      The watchmen found me
        as they went about in the city;
      they beat me, they bruised me,
        they took away my veil,
        those watchmen of the walls.
      I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
        if you find my beloved,
      that you tell him
        I am sick with love.

    Others

      What is your beloved more than another beloved,
        O most beautiful among women?
      What is your beloved more than another beloved,
        that you thus adjure us?

    The Bride Praises Her Beloved

    She

      My beloved is radiant and ruddy,
        distinguished among ten thousand.
      His head is the finest gold;
        his locks are wavy,
        black as a raven.
      His eyes are like doves
        beside streams of water,
      bathed in milk,
        sitting beside a full pool.3
      His cheeks are like beds of spices,
        mounds of sweet-smelling herbs.
      His lips are lilies,
        dripping liquid myrrh.
      His arms are rods of gold,
        set with jewels.
      His body is polished ivory,4
        bedecked with sapphires.5
      His legs are alabaster columns,
        set on bases of gold.
      His appearance is like Lebanon,
        choice as the cedars.
      His mouth6 is most sweet,
        and he is altogether desirable.
      This is my beloved and this is my friend,
        O daughters of Jerusalem.

    Footnotes

    [1] 4:4 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
    [2] 4:8 Or Look
    [3] 5:12 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain
    [4] 5:14 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
    [5] 5:14 Hebrew lapis lazuli
    [6] 5:16 Hebrew palate

    (ESV)

    Evening: 2 Corinthians 13 2 Corinthians 13

    2 Corinthians 13

    Final Warnings

    13 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them—since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.

    Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.

    Final Greetings

    Finally, brothers,1 rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,2 agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.

    The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

    Footnotes

    [1] 13:11 Or brothers and sisters
    [2] 13:11 Or listen to my appeal

    (ESV)



  • September 21: Song of Solomon 1–3; 2 Corinthians 12

    Morning: Song of Solomon 1–3 Song of Solomon 1–3

    Song of Solomon 1-3

    The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.

    The Bride Confesses Her Love

    She1

      Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
      For your love is better than wine;
        your anointing oils are fragrant;
      your name is oil poured out;
        therefore virgins love you.
      Draw me after you; let us run.
        The king has brought me into his chambers.

    Others

      We will exult and rejoice in you;
        we will extol your love more than wine;
        rightly do they love you.

    She

      I am very dark, but lovely,
        O daughters of Jerusalem,
      like the tents of Kedar,
        like the curtains of Solomon.
      Do not gaze at me because I am dark,
        because the sun has looked upon me.
      My mother's sons were angry with me;
        they made me keeper of the vineyards,
        but my own vineyard I have not kept!
      Tell me, you whom my soul loves,
        where you pasture your flock,
        where you make it lie down at noon;
      for why should I be like one who veils herself
        beside the flocks of your companions?

    Solomon and His Bride Delight in Each Other

    He

      If you do not know,
        O most beautiful among women,
      follow in the tracks of the flock,
        and pasture your young goats
        beside the shepherds' tents.
      I compare you, my love,
        to a mare among Pharaoh's chariots.
      Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments,
        your neck with strings of jewels.

    Others

      We will make for you2 ornaments of gold,
        studded with silver.

    She

      While the king was on his couch,
        my nard gave forth its fragrance.
      My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh
        that lies between my breasts.
      My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms
        in the vineyards of Engedi.

    He

      Behold, you are beautiful, my love;
        behold, you are beautiful;
        your eyes are doves.

    She

      Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful.
      Our couch is green;
        the beams of our house are cedar;
        our rafters are pine.
      I am a rose3 of Sharon,
        a lily of the valleys.

    He

      As a lily among brambles,
        so is my love among the young women.

    She

      As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
        so is my beloved among the young men.
      With great delight I sat in his shadow,
        and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
      He brought me to the banqueting house,4
        and his banner over me was love.
      Sustain me with raisins;
        refresh me with apples,
        for I am sick with love.
      His left hand is under my head,
        and his right hand embraces me!
      I adjure you,5 O daughters of Jerusalem,
        by the gazelles or the does of the field,
      that you not stir up or awaken love
        until it pleases.

    The Bride Adores Her Beloved

      The voice of my beloved!
        Behold, he comes,
      leaping over the mountains,
        bounding over the hills.
      My beloved is like a gazelle
        or a young stag.
      Behold, there he stands
        behind our wall,
      gazing through the windows,
        looking through the lattice.
      My beloved speaks and says to me:
      “Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
        and come away,
      for behold, the winter is past;
        the rain is over and gone.
      The flowers appear on the earth,
        the time of singing6 has come,
      and the voice of the turtledove
        is heard in our land.
      The fig tree ripens its figs,
        and the vines are in blossom;
        they give forth fragrance.
      Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
        and come away.
      O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
        in the crannies of the cliff,
      let me see your face,
        let me hear your voice,
      for your voice is sweet,
        and your face is lovely.
      Catch the foxes7 for us,
        the little foxes
      that spoil the vineyards,
        for our vineyards are in blossom.”
      My beloved is mine, and I am his;
        he grazes8 among the lilies.
      Until the day breathes
        and the shadows flee,
      turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
        or a young stag on cleft mountains.9

    The Bride's Dream

      On my bed by night
      I sought him whom my soul loves;
        I sought him, but found him not.
      I will rise now and go about the city,
        in the streets and in the squares;
      I will seek him whom my soul loves.
        I sought him, but found him not.
      The watchmen found me
        as they went about in the city.
      “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
      Scarcely had I passed them
        when I found him whom my soul loves.
      I held him, and would not let him go
        until I had brought him into my mother's house,
        and into the chamber of her who conceived me.
      I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
        by the gazelles or the does of the field,
      that you not stir up or awaken love
        until it pleases.

    Solomon Arrives for the Wedding

      What is that coming up from the wilderness
        like columns of smoke,
      perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
        with all the fragrant powders of a merchant?
      Behold, it is the litter10 of Solomon!
      Around it are sixty mighty men,
        some of the mighty men of Israel,
      all of them wearing swords
        and expert in war,
      each with his sword at his thigh,
        against terror by night.
      King Solomon made himself a carriage11
        from the wood of Lebanon.
      He made its posts of silver,
        its back of gold, its seat of purple;
      its interior was inlaid with love
        by the daughters of Jerusalem.
      Go out, O daughters of Zion,
        and look upon King Solomon,
      with the crown with which his mother crowned him
        on the day of his wedding,
        on the day of the gladness of his heart.

    Footnotes

    [1] 1:2 The translators have added speaker identifications based on the gender and number of the Hebrew words
    [2] 1:11 The Hebrew for you is feminine singular
    [3] 2:1 Probably a bulb, such as a crocus, asphodel, or narcissus
    [4] 2:4 Hebrew the house of wine
    [5] 2:7 That is, I put you on oath; so throughout the Song
    [6] 2:12 Or pruning
    [7] 2:15 Or jackals
    [8] 2:16 Or he pastures his flock
    [9] 2:17 Or mountains of Bether
    [10] 3:7 That is, the couch on which servants carry a king
    [11] 3:9 Or sedan chair

    (ESV)

    Evening: 2 Corinthians 12 2 Corinthians 12

    2 Corinthians 12

    Paul's Visions and His Thorn

    12 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,1 a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Concern for the Corinthian Church

    I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

    Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

    Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

    Footnotes

    [1] 12:7 Or hears from me, even because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations. So to keep me from becoming conceited

    (ESV)



  • September 20: Ecclesiastes 10–12; 2 Corinthians 11:16–33

    Morning: Ecclesiastes 10–12 Ecclesiastes 10–12

    Ecclesiastes 10-12

    10   Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench;
        so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
      A wise man's heart inclines him to the right,
        but a fool's heart to the left.
      Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense,
        and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
      If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place,
        for calmness1 will lay great offenses to rest.

    There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler: folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place. I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves.

      He who digs a pit will fall into it,
        and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.
      He who quarries stones is hurt by them,
        and he who splits logs is endangered by them.
      If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
        he must use more strength,
        but wisdom helps one to succeed.2
      If the serpent bites before it is charmed,
        there is no advantage to the charmer.
      The words of a wise man's mouth win him favor,3
        but the lips of a fool consume him.
      The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
        and the end of his talk is evil madness.
      A fool multiplies words,
        though no man knows what is to be,
        and who can tell him what will be after him?
      The toil of a fool wearies him,
        for he does not know the way to the city.
      Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
        and your princes feast in the morning!
      Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility,
        and your princes feast at the proper time,
        for strength, and not for drunkenness!
      Through sloth the roof sinks in,
        and through indolence the house leaks.
      Bread is made for laughter,
        and wine gladdens life,
        and money answers everything.
      Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,
        nor in your bedroom curse the rich,
      for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
        or some winged creature tell the matter.

    Cast Your Bread upon the Waters

    11   Cast your bread upon the waters,
        for you will find it after many days.
      Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
        for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.
      If the clouds are full of rain,
        they empty themselves on the earth,
      and if a tree falls to the south or to the north,
        in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
      He who observes the wind will not sow,
        and he who regards the clouds will not reap.

    As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb4 of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

    In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

    Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.

    So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.5

    Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

    Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain6 from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

    Remember Your Creator in Your Youth

    12 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along,7 and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity8 of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.

    Fear God and Keep His Commandments

    Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.

    The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

    The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.9 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with10 every secret thing, whether good or evil.

    Footnotes

    [1] 10:4 Hebrew healing
    [2] 10:10 Or wisdom is an advantage for success
    [3] 10:12 Or are gracious
    [4] 11:5 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Targum; most Hebrew manuscripts As you do not know the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb
    [5] 11:8 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verse 10 (see note on 1:2)
    [6] 11:10 Or evil
    [7] 12:5 Or is a burden
    [8] 12:8 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (three times in this verse); see note on 1:2
    [9] 12:13 Or the duty of all mankind
    [10] 12:14 Or into the judgment on

    (ESV)

    Evening: 2 Corinthians 11:16–33 2 Corinthians 11:16–33

    2 Corinthians 11:16-33

    Paul's Sufferings as an Apostle

    I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would1 but as a fool. Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!

    But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,2 in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

    If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

    Footnotes

    [1] 11:17 Greek not according to the Lord
    [2] 11:27 Or often in fasting

    (ESV)



  • September 19: Ecclesiastes 7–9; 2 Corinthians 11:1–15

    Morning: Ecclesiastes 7–9 Ecclesiastes 7–9

    Ecclesiastes 7-9

    The Contrast of Wisdom and Folly

      A good name is better than precious ointment,
        and the day of death than the day of birth.
      It is better to go to the house of mourning
        than to go to the house of feasting,
      for this is the end of all mankind,
        and the living will lay it to heart.
      Sorrow is better than laughter,
        for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
      The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
        but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
      It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
        than to hear the song of fools.
      For as the crackling of thorns under a pot,
        so is the laughter of the fools;
        this also is vanity.1
      Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,
        and a bribe corrupts the heart.
      Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
        and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
      Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
        for anger lodges in the heart2 of fools.
      Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?”
        For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
      Wisdom is good with an inheritance,
        an advantage to those who see the sun.
      For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money,
        and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.
      Consider the work of God:
        who can make straight what he has made crooked?

    In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

    In my vain3 life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.

    Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

    Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

    Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

    All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?

    I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things—which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

    Keep the King's Command

      Who is like the wise?
        And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
      A man's wisdom makes his face shine,
        and the hardness of his face is changed.

    I say:4 Keep the king's command, because of God's oath to him.5 Be not hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases. For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?” Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way.6 For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble7 lies heavy on him. For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be? No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it. All this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had power over man to his hurt.

    Those Who Fear God Will Do Well

    Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised8 in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity.9 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

    Man Cannot Know God's Ways

    There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

    When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one's eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.

    Death Comes to All

    But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil,10 to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

    Enjoy Life with the One You Love

    Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.

    Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.

    Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain11 life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might,12 for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

    Wisdom Better Than Folly

    Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

    I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man's wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.

    The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

    Footnotes

    [1] 7:6 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
    [2] 7:9 Hebrew in the bosom
    [3] 7:15 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
    [4] 8:2 Hebrew lacks say
    [5] 8:2 Or because of your oath to God
    [6] 8:5 Or and judgment
    [7] 8:6 Or evil
    [8] 8:10 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Vulgate; most Hebrew manuscripts forgotten
    [9] 8:10 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also twice in verse 14 (see note on 1:2)
    [10] 9:2 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Hebrew lacks and the evil
    [11] 9:9 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)
    [12] 9:10 Or finds to do with your might, do it

    (ESV)

    Evening: 2 Corinthians 11:1–15 2 Corinthians 11:1–15

    2 Corinthians 11:1-15

    Paul and the False Apostles

    11 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

    Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

    And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

    (ESV)



  • September 18: Ecclesiastes 4–6; 2 Corinthians 10

    Morning: Ecclesiastes 4–6 Ecclesiastes 4–6

    Ecclesiastes 4-6

    Evil Under the Sun

    Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.

    Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity1 and a striving after wind.

    The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.

    Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.

    Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

    Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

    Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that2 youth who was to stand in the king's3 place. There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

    Fear God

    Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words.

    When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you4 into sin, and do not say before the messenger5 that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity;6 but7 God is the one you must fear.

    The Vanity of Wealth and Honor

    If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them. But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.8

    He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

    There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. This also is a grievous evil: just as he came, so shall he go, and what gain is there to him who toils for the wind? Moreover, all his days he eats in darkness in much vexation and sickness and anger.

    Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment9 in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.

    There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity;10 it is a grievous evil. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life's good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy11 no good—do not all go to the one place?

    All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.12 For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living? Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

    Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he. The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man? For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain13 life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

    Footnotes

    [1] 4:4 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 7, 8, 16 (see note on 1:2)
    [2] 4:15 Hebrew the second
    [3] 4:15 Hebrew his
    [4] 5:6 Hebrew your flesh
    [5] 5:6 Or angel
    [6] 5:7 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verse 10 (see note on 1:2)
    [7] 5:7 Or For when dreams and vanities increase, words also grow many; but
    [8] 5:9 The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain
    [9] 5:18 Or and see good
    [10] 6:2 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath”; also verses 4, 9, 11 (see note on 1:2)
    [11] 6:6 Or see
    [12] 6:7 Hebrew filled
    [13] 6:12 The Hebrew term hebel can refer to a “vapor” or “mere breath” (see note on 1:2)

    (ESV)

    Evening: 2 Corinthians 10 2 Corinthians 10

    2 Corinthians 10

    Paul Defends His Ministry

    10 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!—I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

    Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ's, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ's, so also are we. For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.

    But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. For we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another's area of influence. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

    (ESV)




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