Job Recalls His Former Glory
29 1 Job now resumed his response: 2 "Oh, how I long for the good old days, when God took such very good care of me. 3 He always held a lamp before me and I walked through the dark by its light. 4 Oh, how I miss those golden years when God's friendship graced my home, 5 When the Mighty One was still by my side and my children were all around me, 6 When everything was going my way, and nothing seemed too difficult.
7 "When I walked downtown and sat with my friends in the public square, 8 Young and old greeted me with respect; I was honored by everyone in town. 9 When I spoke, everyone listened; 10 they hung on my every word. 11 People who knew me spoke well of me; my reputation went ahead of me. 12 I was known for helping people in trouble and standing up for those who were down on their luck. 13 The dying blessed me, and the bereaved were cheered by my visits. 14 All my dealings with people were good. I was known for being fair to everyone I met. 15 I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame, 16 Father to the needy, and champion of abused aliens. 17 I grabbed street thieves by the scruff of the neck and made them give back what they'd stolen.
18 I thought, 'I'll die peacefully in my own bed, grateful for a long and full life, 19 A life deep-rooted and well-watered, a life limber and dew-fresh, 20 My soul suffused with glory and my body robust until the day I die.' 21 "Men and women listened when I spoke, hung expectantly on my every word. 22 After I spoke, they'd be quiet, taking it all in. 23 They welcomed my counsel like spring rain, drinking it all in. 24 When I smiled at them, they could hardly believe it; their faces lit up, their troubles took wing! 25 I was their leader, establishing the mood and setting the pace by which they lived. Where I led, they followed.
Job Bewails His Present Affliction
30 1 "But no longer. Now I'm the butt of their jokes - young ruffians! whippersnappers! 2 Why, I considered their fathers mere inexperienced pups. But they are worse than dogs - good for nothing, stray, mangy animals, 3 Half-starved, scavenging the back alleys, howling at the moon; 4 Homeless guttersnipes chewing on old bones and licking old tin cans; 5 Outcasts from the community, cursed as dangerous delinquents. 6 Nobody would put up with them; they were driven from the neighborhood. 7 You could hear them out there at the edge of town, yelping and barking, huddled in junkyards, 8 A gang of beggars and no-names, thrown out on their ears. 9 "But now I'm the one they're after, mistreating me, taunting and mocking. 10 They abhor me, they abuse me. How dare those scoundrels - they spit in my face! 11 Now that God has undone me and left me in a heap, they hold nothing back. Anything goes. 12 They come at me from my blind side, trip me up, then jump on me while I'm down. 13 They throw every kind of obstacle in my path, determined to ruin me - and no one lifts a finger to help me! 14 They violate my broken body, trample through the rubble of my ruined life.
15 Terrors assault me - my dignity in shreds, salvation up in smoke. 16 "And now my life drains out, as suffering seizes and grips me hard. 17 Night gnaws at my bones; the pain never lets up. 18 I am tied hand and foot, my neck in a noose. I twist and turn. 19 Thrown facedown in the muck, I'm a muddy mess, inside and out. What Did I Do to Deserve This? 20 "I shout for help, God, and get nothing, no answer! I stand to face you in protest, and you give me a blank stare! 21 You've turned into my tormenter - you slap me around, knock me about. 22 You raised me up so I was riding high and then dropped me, and I crashed. 23 I know you're determined to kill me, to put me six feet under. 24 "What did I do to deserve this? Did I ever hit anyone who was calling for help? 25 Haven't I wept for those who live a hard life, been heartsick over the lot of the poor? 26 But where did it get me? I expected good but evil showed up. I looked for light but darkness fell. 27 My stomach's in a constant churning, never settles down. Each day confronts me with more suffering. 28 I walk under a black cloud. The sun is gone. I stand in the congregation and protest. 29 I howl with the jackals, I hoot with the owls. 30 I'm black and blue all over, burning up with fever. 31 My fiddle plays nothing but the blues; my mouth harp wails laments.
Job Asserts His Integrity
31 1 "I made a solemn pact with myself never to undress a girl with my eyes. 2 So what can I expect from God? What do I deserve from God Almighty above? 3 Isn't calamity reserved for the wicked? Isn't disaster supposed to strike those who do wrong? 4 Isn't God looking, observing how I live? Doesn't he mark every step I take? 5 "Have I walked hand in hand with falsehood, or hung out in the company of deceit? 6 Weigh me on a set of honest scales so God has proof of my integrity. 7 If I've strayed off the straight and narrow, wanted things I had no right to, messed around with sin, 8 Go ahead, then - give my portion to someone who deserves it.
9 "If I've let myself be seduced by a woman and conspired to go to bed with her, 10 Fine, my wife has every right to go ahead and sleep with anyone she wants to. 11 For disgusting behavior like that, I'd deserve the worst punishment you could hand out. 12 Adultery is a fire that burns the house down; I wouldn't expect anything I count dear to survive it. 13 "Have I ever been unfair to my employees when they brought a complaint to me? 14 What, then, will I do when God confronts me? When God examines my books, what can I say? 15 Didn't the same God who made me, make them? Aren't we all made of the same stuff, equals before God?
16 "Have I ignored the needs of the poor, turned my back on the indigent, 17 Taken care of my own needs and fed my own face while they languished? 18 Wasn't my home always open to them? Weren't they always welcome at my table? 19 "Have I ever left a poor family shivering in the cold when they had no warm clothes? 20 Didn't the poor bless me when they saw me coming, knowing I'd brought coats from my closet? 21 "If I've ever used my strength and influence to take advantage of the unfortunate, 22 Go ahead, break both my arms, cut off all my fingers! 23 The fear of God has kept me from these things - how else could I ever face him? If Only Someone Would Give Me a Hearing!
24 "Did I set my heart on making big money or worship at the bank? 25 Did I boast about my wealth, show off because I was well-off? 26 Was I ever so awed by the sun's brilliance and moved by the moon's beauty 27 That I let myself become seduced by them and worshiped them on the sly? 28 If so, I would deserve the worst of punishments, for I would be betraying God himself. 29 "Did I ever crow over my enemy's ruin? Or gloat over my rival's bad luck? 30 No, I never said a word of detraction, never cursed them, even under my breath. 31 "Didn't those who worked for me say, 'He fed us well. There were always second helpings'? 32 And no stranger ever had to spend a night in the street; my doors were always open to travelers.
33 Did I hide my sin the way Adam did, or conceal my guilt behind closed doors 34 Because I was afraid what people would say, fearing the gossip of the neighbors so much That I turned myself into a recluse? You know good and well that I didn't. 35 "Oh, if only someone would give me a hearing! I've signed my name to my defense - let the Almighty One answer! I want to see my indictment in writing. 36 Anyone's welcome to read my defense; I'll write it on a poster and carry it around town. 37 I'm prepared to account for every move I've ever made - to anyone and everyone, prince or pauper. 38 "If the very ground that I farm accuses me, if even the furrows fill with tears from my abuse, 39 If I've ever raped the earth for my own profit or dispossessed its rightful owners, 40 Then curse it with thistles instead of wheat, curse it with weeds instead of barley." The words of Job to his three friends were finished. Elihu Speaks