Read the Bible | September 16th
The Words of King Lemuel
 The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:
 What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb?
What are you doing, son of my vows?
 Do not give your strength to women,
your ways to those who destroy kings.
 It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
and wine to those in bitter distress;
 let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
 Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
The Woman Who Fears the LORD
 An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
 She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
 She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
 She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
 She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
 Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates. (ESV)
All Is Vanity
 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
 What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
 All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
The Vanity of Wisdom
 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.  And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.
 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
and what is lacking cannot be counted.
 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”  And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.
 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. (ESV)
The Vanity of Self-Indulgence
 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.  I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”  I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.  I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself.  I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees.  I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees.  I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.  I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.  And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.  Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
The Vanity of Living Wisely
 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done.  Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.  The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them.  Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity.  For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool!  So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.
The Vanity of Toil
 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me,  and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.  So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun,  because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil.  What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?  For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,  for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?  For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. (ESV)
2 Corinthians 10
Paul Defends His Ministry
 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)