Job Reproaches His Friends
6 1 Job answered: 2 "If my misery could be weighed, if you could pile the whole bitter load on the scales, 3 It would be heavier than all the sand of the sea! Is it any wonder that I'm screaming like a caged cat? 4 The arrows of God Almighty are in me, poison arrows - and I'm poisoned all through! God has dumped the whole works on me. 5 Donkeys bray and cows moo when they run out of pasture - so don't expect me to keep quiet in this. 6 Do you see what God has dished out for me? It's enough to turn anyone's stomach! 7 Everything in me is repulsed by it - it makes me sick. Pressed Past the Limits
8 "All I want is an answer to one prayer, a last request to be honored: 9 Let God step on me - squash me like a bug, and be done with me for good. 10 I'd at least have the satisfaction of not having blasphemed the Holy God, before being pressed past the limits. 11 Where's the strength to keep my hopes up? What future do I have to keep me going? 12 Do you think I have nerves of steel? Do you think I'm made of iron? 13 Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps? Why, I don't even have any boots! My So-Called Friends
14 "When desperate people give up on God Almighty, their friends, at least, should stick with them. 15 But my brothers are fickle as a gulch in the desert - one day they're gushing with water 16 From melting ice and snow cascading out of the mountains, 17 But by midsummer they're dry, gullies baked dry in the sun. 18 Travelers who spot them and go out of their way for a drink, end up in a waterless gulch and die of thirst. 19 Merchant caravans from Tema see them and expect water, tourists from Sheba hope for a cool drink. 20 They arrive so confident - but what a disappointment! They get there, and their faces fall! 21 And you, my so-called friends, are no better - there's nothing to you! One look at a hard scene and you shrink in fear.
22 It's not as though I asked you for anything - I didn't ask you for one red cent - 23 Nor did I beg you to go out on a limb for me. So why all this dodging and shuffling? 24 "Confront me with the truth and I'll shut up, show me where I've gone off the track. 25 Honest words never hurt anyone, but what's the point of all this pious bluster? 26 You pretend to tell me what's wrong with my life, but treat my words of anguish as so much hot air. 27 Are people mere things to you? Are friends just items of profit and loss? 28 "Look me in the eyes! Do you think I'd lie to your face? 29 Think it over - no double-talk! Think carefully - my integrity is on the line! 30 Can you detect anything false in what I say? Don't you trust me to discern good from evil?
Job Remonstrates with God
7 1 "Human life is a struggle, isn't it? It's a life sentence to hard labor. 2 Like field hands longing for quitting time and working stiffs with nothing to hope for but payday, 3 I'm given a life that meanders and goes nowhere - months of aimlessness, nights of misery! 4 I go to bed and think, 'How long till I can get up?' I toss and turn as the night drags on - and I'm fed up! 5 I'm covered with maggots and scabs. My skin gets scaly and hard, then oozes with pus. 6 My days come and go swifter than the click of knitting needles, and then the yarn runs out - an unfinished life!
7 "God, don't forget that I'm only a puff of air! These eyes have had their last look at goodness. 8 And your eyes have seen the last of me; even while you're looking, there'll be nothing left to look at. 9 When a cloud evaporates, it's gone for good; those who go to the grave never come back. 10 They don't return to visit their families; never again will friends drop in for coffee. 11 "And so I'm not keeping one bit of this quiet, I'm laying it all out on the table; my complaining to high heaven is bitter, but honest. 12 Are you going to put a muzzle on me, the way you quiet the sea and still the storm? 13 If I say, 'I'm going to bed, then I'll feel better. A little nap will lift my spirits,' 14 You come and so scare me with nightmares and frighten me with ghosts 15 That I'd rather strangle in the bedclothes than face this kind of life any longer. 16 I hate this life! Who needs any more of this? Let me alone! There's nothing to my life - it's nothing but smoke.
17 "What are mortals anyway, that you bother with them, that you even give them the time of day? 18 That you check up on them every morning, looking in on them to see how they're doing? 19 Let up on me, will you? Can't you even let me spit in peace? 20 Even suppose I'd sinned - how would that hurt you? You're responsible for every human being. Don't you have better things to do than pick on me? Why make a federal case out of me? 21 Why don't you just forgive my sins and start me off with a clean slate? The way things are going, I'll soon be dead. You'll look high and low, but I won't be around."
Bildad Affirms God's Justice
8 1 Bildad from Shuhah was next to speak: 2 "How can you keep on talking like this? You're talking nonsense, and noisy nonsense at that. 3 Does God mess up? Does God Almighty ever get things backwards? 4 It's plain that your children sinned against him - otherwise, why would God have punished them? 5 Here's what you must do - and don't put it off any longer: Get down on your knees before God Almighty. 6 If you're as innocent and upright as you say, it's not too late - he'll come running; he'll set everything right again, reestablish your fortunes. 7 Even though you're not much right now, you'll end up better than ever. To Hang Your Life from One Thin Thread
8 "Put the question to our ancestors, study what they learned from their ancestors. 9 For we're newcomers at this, with a lot to learn, and not too long to learn it. 10 So why not let the ancients teach you, tell you what's what, instruct you in what they knew from experience? 11 Can mighty pine trees grow tall without soil? Can luscious tomatoes flourish without water? 12 Blossoming flowers look great before they're cut or picked, but without soil or water they wither more quickly than grass. 13 That's what happens to all who forget God - all their hopes come to nothing. 14 They hang their life from one thin thread, they hitch their fate to a spider web. 15 One jiggle and the thread breaks, one jab and the web collapses. 16 Or they're like weeds springing up in the sunshine, invading the garden, 17 Spreading everywhere, overtaking the flowers, getting a foothold even in the rocks. 18 But when the gardener rips them out by the roots, the garden doesn't miss them one bit. 19 The sooner the godless are gone, the better; then good plants can grow in their place.
20 "There's no way that God will reject a good person, and there is no way he'll help a bad one. 21 God will let you laugh again; you'll raise the roof with shouts of joy, 22 With your enemies thoroughly discredited, their house of cards collapsed."
Job's Inability to Answer God
9 1 Job continued by saying: 2 "So what's new? I know all this. The question is, 'How can mere mortals get right with God?' 3 If we wanted to bring our case before him, what chance would we have? Not one in a thousand! 4 God's wisdom is so deep, God's power so immense, who could take him on and come out in one piece? 5 He moves mountains before they know what's happened, flips them on their heads on a whim. 6 He gives the earth a good shaking up, rocks it down to its very foundations. 7 He tells the sun, 'Don't shine,' and it doesn't; he pulls the blinds on the stars. 8 All by himself he stretches out the heavens and strides on the waves of the sea. 9 He designed the Big Dipper and Orion, the Pleiades and Alpha Centauri. 10 We'll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracle-surprises can't be counted. 11 Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don't see him; quietly but surely he's active, and I miss it. 12 If he steals you blind, who can stop him? Who's going to say, 'Hey, what are you doing?' 13 God doesn't hold back on his anger; even dragon-bred monsters cringe before him.
14 "So how could I ever argue with him, construct a defense that would influence God? 15 Even though I'm innocent I could never prove it; I can only throw myself on the Judge's mercy. 16 If I called on God and he himself answered me, then, and only then, would I believe that he'd heard me. 17 As it is, he knocks me about from pillar to post, beating me up, black and blue, for no good reason. 18 He won't even let me catch my breath, piles bitterness upon bitterness. 19 If it's a question of who's stronger, he wins, hands down! If it's a question of justice, who'll serve him the subpoena? 20 Even though innocent, anything I say incriminates me; blameless as I am, my defense just makes me sound worse. If God's Not Responsible, Who Is? 21 "Believe me, I'm blameless. I don't understand what's going on. I hate my life!
22 Since either way it ends up the same, I can only conclude that God destroys the good right along with the bad. 23 When calamity hits and brings sudden death, he folds his arms, aloof from the despair of the innocent. 24 He lets the wicked take over running the world, he installs judges who can't tell right from wrong. If he's not responsible, who is?
25 "My time is short - what's left of my life races off too fast for me to even glimpse the good. 26 My life is going fast, like a ship under full sail, like an eagle plummeting to its prey. 27 Even if I say, 'I'll put all this behind me, I'll look on the bright side and force a smile,' 28 All these troubles would still be like grit in my gut since it's clear you're not going to let up. 29 The verdict has already been handed down - 'Guilty!' - so what's the use of protests or appeals? 30 Even if I scrub myself all over and wash myself with the strongest soap I can find, 31 It wouldn't last - you'd push me into a pigpen, or worse, so nobody could stand me for the stink. 32 "God and I are not equals; I can't bring a case against him. We'll never enter a courtroom as peers. 33 How I wish we had an arbitrator to step in and let me get on with life - 34 To break God's death grip on me, to free me from this terror so I could breathe again. 35 Then I'd speak up and state my case boldly. As things stand, there is no way I can do it.