17 1 "My spirit is broken, my days used up, my grave dug and waiting. 2 See how these mockers close in on me? How long do I have to put up with their insolence? 3 "O God, pledge your support for me. Give it to me in writing, with your signature. You're the only one who can do it! 4 These people are so useless! You know firsthand how stupid they can be. You wouldn't let them have the last word, would you? 5 Those who betray their own friends leave a legacy of abuse to their children. 6 "God, you've made me the talk of the town - people spit in my face; 7 I can hardly see from crying so much; I'm nothing but skin and bones. 8 Decent people can't believe what they're seeing; the good-hearted wake up and insist I've given up on God. 9 "But principled people hold tight, keep a firm grip on life, sure that their clean, pure hands will get stronger and stronger!
10 "Maybe you'd all like to start over, to try it again, the bunch of you. So far I haven't come across one scrap of wisdom in anything you've said. 11 My life's about over. All my plans are smashed, all my hopes are snuffed out - 12 My hope that night would turn into day, my hope that dawn was about to break. 13 If all I have to look forward to is a home in the graveyard, if my only hope for comfort is a well-built coffin, 14 If a family reunion means going six feet under, and the only family that shows up is worms, 15 Do you call that hope? Who on earth could find any hope in that? 16 No. If hope and I are to be buried together, I suppose you'll all come to the double funeral!"
Bildad Describes the Fate of the Wicked
18 1 Bildad from Shuhah chimed in: 2 "How monotonous these word games are getting! Get serious! We need to get down to business. 3 Why do you treat your friends like slow-witted animals? You look down on us as if we don't know anything. 4 Why are you working yourself up like this? Do you want the world redesigned to suit you? Should reality be suspended to accommodate you?
5 "Here's the rule: The light of the wicked is put out. Their flame dies down and is extinguished. 6 Their house goes dark - every lamp in the place goes out. 7 Their strong strides weaken, falter; they stumble into their own traps. 8 They get all tangled up in their own red tape, 9 Their feet are grabbed and caught, their necks in a noose. 10 They trip on ropes they've hidden, and fall into pits they've dug themselves.
11 Terrors come at them from all sides. They run helter-skelter. 12 The hungry grave is ready to gobble them up for supper, 13 To lay them out for a gourmet meal, a treat for ravenous Death. 14 They are snatched from their home sweet home and marched straight to the death house. 15 Their lives go up in smoke; acid rain soaks their ruins. 16 Their roots rot and their branches wither. 17 They'll never again be remembered - nameless in unmarked graves. 18 They are plunged from light into darkness, banished from the world. 19 And they leave empty-handed - not one single child - nothing to show for their life on this earth. 20 Westerners are aghast at their fate, easterners are horrified: 21 'Oh no! So this is what happens to perverse people. This is how the God-ignorant end up!'"
Job's Faith That God Will Vindicate Him
19 1 Job answered: 2 "How long are you going to keep battering away at me, pounding me with these harangues? 3 Time after time after time you jump all over me. Do you have no conscience, abusing me like this? 4 Even if I have, somehow or other, gotten off the track, what business is that of yours? 5 Why do you insist on putting me down, using my troubles as a stick to beat me? 6 Tell it to God - he's the one behind all this, he's the one who dragged me into this mess. 7 "Look at me - I shout 'Murder!' and I'm ignored; I call for help and no one bothers to stop.
8 God threw a barricade across my path - I'm stymied; he turned out all the lights - I'm stuck in the dark. 9 He destroyed my reputation, robbed me of all self-respect. 10 He tore me apart piece by piece - I'm ruined! Then he yanked out hope by the roots. 11 He's angry with me - oh, how he's angry! He treats me like his worst enemy. 12 He has launched a major campaign against me, using every weapon he can think of, coming at me from all sides at once. I Know That God Lives 13 "God alienated my family from me; 14 everyone who knows me avoids me. My relatives and friends have all left; houseguests forget I ever existed. 15 The servant girls treat me like a bum off the street, look at me like they've never seen me before. 16 I call my attendant and he ignores me, ignores me even though I plead with him. 17 My wife can't stand to be around me anymore. I'm repulsive to my family. 18 Even street urchins despise me; when I come out, they taunt and jeer. 19 Everyone I've ever been close to abhors me; my dearest loved ones reject me. 20 I'm nothing but a bag of bones; my life hangs by a thread. 21 "Oh, friends, dear friends, take pity on me. God has come down hard on me! 22 Do you have to be hard on me too? Don't you ever tire of abusing me?
23 "If only my words were written in a book - 24 better yet, chiseled in stone! 25 Still, I know that God lives - the One who gives me back my life - and eventually he'll take his stand on earth. 26 And I'll see him - even though I get skinned alive! - 27 see God myself, with my very own eyes. Oh, how I long for that day! 28 "If you're thinking, 'How can we get through to him, get him to see that his trouble is all his own fault?' 29 Forget it. Start worrying about yourselves. Worry about your own sins and God's coming judgment, for judgment is most certainly on the way."
Zophar Depicts the Portion of the Wicked
20 1 Zophar from Naamath again took his turn: 2 "I can't believe what I'm hearing! You've put my teeth on edge, my stomach in a knot. 3 How dare you insult my intelligence like this! Well, here's a piece of my mind! 4 "Don't you even know the basics, how things have been since the earliest days, when Adam and Eve were first placed on earth? 5 The good times of the wicked are short-lived; godless joy is only momentary. 6 The evil might become world famous, strutting at the head of the celebrity parade, 7 But still end up in a pile of dung. Acquaintances look at them with disgust and say, 'What's that?' 8 They fly off like a dream that can't be remembered, like a shadowy illusion that vanishes in the light. 9 Though once notorious public figures, now they're nobodies, unnoticed, whether they come or go.
10 Their children will go begging on skid row, and they'll have to give back their ill-gotten gain. 11 Right in the prime of life, and youthful and vigorous, they'll die. 12 "They savor evil as a delicacy, roll it around on their tongues, 13 Prolong the flavor, a dalliance in decadence - real gourmets of evil! 14 But then they get stomach cramps, a bad case of food poisoning. 15 They gag on all that rich food; God makes them vomit it up. 16 They gorge on evil, make a diet of that poison - a deadly diet - and it kills them. 17 No quiet picnics for them beside gentle streams with fresh-baked bread and cheese, and tall, cool drinks. 18 They spit out their food half-chewed, unable to relax and enjoy anything they've worked for. 19 And why? Because they exploited the poor, took what never belonged to them. 20 "Such God-denying people are never content with what they have or who they are; their greed drives them relentlessly. 21 They plunder everything but they can't hold on to any of it. 22 Just when they think they have it all, disaster strikes; they're served up a plate full of misery.
23 When they've filled their bellies with that, God gives them a taste of his anger, and they get to chew on that for a while. 24 As they run for their lives from one disaster, they run smack into another. 25 They're knocked around from pillar to post, beaten to within an inch of their lives. They're trapped in a house of horrors, 26 and see their loot disappear down a black hole. Their lives are a total loss - not a penny to their name, not so much as a bean. 27 God will strip them of their sin-soaked clothes and hang their dirty laundry out for all to see. 28 Life is a complete wipeout for them, nothing surviving God's wrath. 29 There! That's God's blueprint for the wicked - what they have to look forward to."