Watch your step when you enter God's house. Enter to learn. That's far better than mindlessly offering a sacrifice, Doing more harm than good.
Don't shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think. Don't be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear. God's in charge, not you - the less you speak, the better.
Over-work makes for restless sleep. Over-talk shows you up as a fool.
When you tell God you'll do something, do it - now. God takes no pleasure in foolish gabble. Vow it, then do it.
Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up.
Don't let your mouth make a total sinner of you. When called to account, you won't get by with "Sorry, I didn't mean it." Why risk provoking God to angry retaliation?
But against all illusion and fantasy and empty talk There's always this rock foundation: Fear God!
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.
The more loot you get, the more looters show up. And what fun is that - to be robbed in broad daylight?
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?
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.
The focus for me in these verses is God--how do I regard him, and how do I regard the life, and things in this life, that he has given me? If I make each day about my needs, and the things I have (or don't have) my focus. I love Peterson's translation--his use of the word "smoke" to represent the ephemeral nature of everything that we have. What is not smoke is whether or not we choose to be in a relationship with God, and get to know more about who he is, his otherness, his holiness, and his love for us. That is substance.