2 “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer because I am greatly disturbed. 3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me, and my understanding inspires me to reply.
4 “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since mankind[a] was placed on the earth, 5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. 6 Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, 7 he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ 8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found, banished like a vision of the night. 9 The eye that saw him will not see him again; his place will look on him no more. 10 His children must make amends to the poor; his own hands must give back his wealth. 11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones will lie with him in the dust.
12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue, 13 though he cannot bear to let it go and lets it linger in his mouth, 14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach; it will become the venom of serpents within him. 15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed; God will make his stomach vomit them up. 16 He will suck the poison of serpents; the fangs of an adder will kill him. 17 He will not enjoy the streams, the rivers flowing with honey and cream. 18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten; he will not enjoy the profit from his trading. 19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute; he has seized houses he did not build.
20 “Surely he will have no respite from his craving; he cannot save himself by his treasure. 21 Nothing is left for him to devour; his prosperity will not endure. 22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him; the full force of misery will come upon him. 23 When he has filled his belly, God will vent his burning anger against him and rain down his blows on him. 24 Though he flees from an iron weapon, a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him. 25 He pulls it out of his back, the gleaming point out of his liver. Terrors will come over him; 26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures. A fire unfanned will consume him and devour what is left in his tent. 27 The heavens will expose his guilt; the earth will rise up against him. 28 A flood will carry off his house, rushing waters[b] on the day of God’s wrath. 29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked, the heritage appointed for them by God.”
2 “Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. 3 Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.
4 “Is my complaint directed to a human being? Why should I not be impatient? 5 Look at me and be appalled; clap your hand over your mouth. 6 When I think about this, I am terrified; trembling seizes my body. 7 Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? 8 They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. 9 Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not on them. 10 Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. 11 They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. 12 They sing to the music of timbrel and lyre; they make merry to the sound of the pipe. 13 They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace.[a] 14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. 15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ 16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands, so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked.
17 “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate God allots in his anger? 18 How often are they like straw before the wind, like chaff swept away by a gale? 19 It is said, ‘God stores up the punishment of the wicked for their children.’ Let him repay the wicked, so that they themselves will experience it! 20 Let their own eyes see their destruction; let them drink the cup of the wrath of the Almighty. 21 For what do they care about the families they leave behind when their allotted months come to an end?
22 “Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest? 23 One person dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease, 24 well nourished in body,[b] bones rich with marrow. 25 Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. 26 Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both.
27 “I know full well what you are thinking, the schemes by which you would wrong me. 28 You say, ‘Where now is the house of the great, the tents where the wicked lived?’ 29 Have you never questioned those who travel? Have you paid no regard to their accounts— 30 that the wicked are spared from the day of calamity, that they are delivered from[c] the day of wrath? 31 Who denounces their conduct to their face? Who repays them for what they have done? 32 They are carried to the grave, and watch is kept over their tombs. 33 The soil in the valley is sweet to them; everyone follows after them, and a countless throng goes[d] before them.
34 “So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”
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