2 “You people really know everything, don’t you? And when you die, wisdom will die with you! 3 Well, I know a few things myself— and you’re no better than I am. Who doesn’t know these things you’ve been saying? 4 Yet my friends laugh at me, for I call on God and expect an answer. I am a just and blameless man, yet they laugh at me. 5 People who are at ease mock those in trouble. They give a push to people who are stumbling. 6 But robbers are left in peace, and those who provoke God live in safety— though God keeps them in his power.[a]
7 “Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. 8 Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you. Let the fish in the sea speak to you. 9 For they all know that my disaster[b] has come from the hand of the Lord. 10 For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being. 11 The ear tests the words it hears just as the mouth distinguishes between foods. 12 Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.
13 “But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his. 14 What he destroys cannot be rebuilt. When he puts someone in prison, there is no escape. 15 If he holds back the rain, the earth becomes a desert. If he releases the waters, they flood the earth. 16 Yes, strength and wisdom are his; deceivers and deceived are both in his power. 17 He leads counselors away, stripped of good judgment; wise judges become fools. 18 He removes the royal robe of kings. They are led away with ropes around their waist. 19 He leads priests away, stripped of status; he overthrows those with long years in power. 20 He silences the trusted adviser and removes the insight of the elders. 21 He pours disgrace upon princes and disarms the strong.
22 “He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness; he brings light to the deepest gloom. 23 He builds up nations, and he destroys them. He expands nations, and he abandons them. 24 He strips kings of understanding and leaves them wandering in a pathless wasteland. 25 They grope in the darkness without a light. He makes them stagger like drunkards.
Job Wants to Argue His Case with God
13 “Look, I have seen all this with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears, and now I understand. 2 I know as much as you do. You are no better than I am. 3 As for me, I would speak directly to the Almighty. I want to argue my case with God himself. 4 As for you, you smear me with lies. As physicians, you are worthless quacks. 5 If only you could be silent! That’s the wisest thing you could do. 6 Listen to my charge; pay attention to my arguments.
7 “Are you defending God with lies? Do you make your dishonest arguments for his sake? 8 Will you slant your testimony in his favor? Will you argue God’s case for him? 9 What will happen when he finds out what you are doing? Can you fool him as easily as you fool people? 10 No, you will be in trouble with him if you secretly slant your testimony in his favor. 11 Doesn’t his majesty terrify you? Doesn’t your fear of him overwhelm you? 12 Your platitudes are as valuable as ashes. Your defense is as fragile as a clay pot.
13 “Be silent now and leave me alone. Let me speak, and I will face the consequences. 14 Why should I put myself in mortal danger[c] and take my life in my own hands? 15 God might kill me, but I have no other hope.[d] I am going to argue my case with him. 16 But this is what will save me—I am not godless. If I were, I could not stand before him.
17 “Listen closely to what I am about to say. Hear me out. 18 I have prepared my case; I will be proved innocent. 19 Who can argue with me over this? And if you prove me wrong, I will remain silent and die.
Job Asks How He Has Sinned
20 “O God, grant me these two things, and then I will be able to face you. 21 Remove your heavy hand from me, and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence. 22 Now summon me, and I will answer! Or let me speak to you, and you reply. 23 Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin. 24 Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me as your enemy? 25 Would you terrify a leaf blown by the wind? Would you chase dry straw?
26 “You write bitter accusations against me and bring up all the sins of my youth. 27 You put my feet in stocks. You examine all my paths. You trace all my footprints. 28 I waste away like rotting wood, like a moth-eaten coat.
14 “How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! 2 We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear. 3 Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature and demand an accounting from me? 4 Who can bring purity out of an impure person? No one! 5 You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. 6 So leave us alone and let us rest! We are like hired hands, so let us finish our work in peace.
7 “Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches. 8 Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, 9 at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling.
10 “But when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they? 11 As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, 12 people are laid to rest and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.
13 “I wish you would hide me in the grave[e] and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! 14 Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. 15 You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. 16 For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins. 17 My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover my guilt.
18 “But instead, as mountains fall and crumble and as rocks fall from a cliff, 19 as water wears away the stones and floods wash away the soil, so you destroy people’s hope. 20 You always overpower them, and they pass from the scene. You disfigure them in death and send them away. 21 They never know if their children grow up in honor or sink to insignificance. 22 They suffer painfully; their life is full of trouble.”
12:6Or safety—those who try to manipulate God. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
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