2 “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, 3 when his lamp shone on my head and by his light I walked through darkness! 4 Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me, 6 when my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil.
7 “When I went to the gate of the city and took my seat in the public square, 8 the young men saw me and stepped aside and the old men rose to their feet; 9 the chief men refrained from speaking and covered their mouths with their hands; 10 the voices of the nobles were hushed, and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. 11 Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, 12 because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. 13 The one who was dying blessed me; I made the widow’s heart sing. 14 I put on righteousness as my clothing; justice was my robe and my turban. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. 17 I broke the fangs of the wicked and snatched the victims from their teeth.
18 “I thought, ‘I will die in my own house, my days as numerous as the grains of sand. 19 My roots will reach to the water, and the dew will lie all night on my branches. 20 My glory will not fade; the bow will be ever new in my hand.’
21 “People listened to me expectantly, waiting in silence for my counsel. 22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more; my words fell gently on their ears. 23 They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain. 24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.[a] 25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief; I dwelt as a king among his troops; I was like one who comforts mourners.
30 “But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs. 2 Of what use was the strength of their hands to me, since their vigor had gone from them? 3 Haggard from want and hunger, they roamed[b] the parched land in desolate wastelands at night. 4 In the brush they gathered salt herbs, and their food[c] was the root of the broom bush. 5 They were banished from human society, shouted at as if they were thieves. 6 They were forced to live in the dry stream beds, among the rocks and in holes in the ground. 7 They brayed among the bushes and huddled in the undergrowth. 8 A base and nameless brood, they were driven out of the land.
9 “And now those young men mock me in song; I have become a byword among them. 10 They detest me and keep their distance; they do not hesitate to spit in my face. 11 Now that God has unstrung my bow and afflicted me, they throw off restraint in my presence. 12 On my right the tribe[d] attacks; they lay snares for my feet, they build their siege ramps against me. 13 They break up my road; they succeed in destroying me. ‘No one can help him,’ they say. 14 They advance as through a gaping breach; amid the ruins they come rolling in. 15 Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.
16 “And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me. 17 Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest. 18 In his great power God becomes like clothing to me[e]; he binds me like the neck of my garment. 19 He throws me into the mud, and I am reduced to dust and ashes.
20 “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. 21 You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. 22 You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm. 23 I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.
24 “Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress. 25 Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor? 26 Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness. 27 The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me. 28 I go about blackened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. 29 I have become a brother of jackals, a companion of owls. 30 My skin grows black and peels; my body burns with fever. 31 My lyre is tuned to mourning, and my pipe to the sound of wailing.
Job 29:24The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.
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