The Steadfast Love of God
36 1 The God-rebel tunes in to sedition - all ears, eager to sin. He has no regard for God, he stands insolent before him. 2 He has smooth-talked himself into believing That his evil will never be noticed. 3 Words gutter from his mouth, dishwater dirty. Can't remember when he did anything decent. 4 Every time he goes to bed, he fathers another evil plot. When he's loose on the streets, nobody's safe. He plays with fire and doesn't care who gets burned.
5 God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, 6 His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. 7 How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, 8 To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. 9 You're a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. 10 Keep on loving your friends; do your work in welcoming hearts. 11 Don't let the bullies kick me around, the moral midgets slap me down. 12 Send the upstarts sprawling flat on their faces in the mud.
The Insecurity of the Wicked
37 1 Don't bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked. 2 In no time they'll shrivel like grass clippings and wilt like cut flowers in the sun. 3 Get insurance with God and do a good deed, settle down and stick to your last. 4 Keep company with God, get in on the best. 5 Open up before God, keep nothing back; he'll do whatever needs to be done: 6 He'll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.
7 Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don't bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top. 8 Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes - it only makes things worse. 9 Before long the crooks will be bankrupt; God-investors will soon own the store. 10 Before you know it, the wicked will have had it; you'll stare at his once famous place and - nothing! 11 Down-to-earth people will move in and take over, relishing a huge bonanza. 12 Bad guys have it in for the good guys, obsessed with doing them in. 13 But God isn't losing any sleep; to him they're a joke with no punch line. 14 Bullies brandish their swords, pull back on their bows with a flourish. They're out to beat up on the harmless, or mug that nice man out walking his dog. 15 A banana peel lands them flat on their faces - slapstick figures in a moral circus. 16 Less is more and more is less. One righteous will outclass fifty wicked, 17 For the wicked are moral weaklings but the righteous are God-strong. 18 God keeps track of the decent folk; what they do won't soon be forgotten. 19 In hard times, they'll hold their heads high; when the shelves are bare, they'll be full. 20 God-despisers have had it; God's enemies are finished - Stripped bare like vineyards at harvest time, vanished like smoke in thin air.
21 Wicked borrows and never returns; Righteous gives and gives. 22 Generous gets it all in the end; Stingy is cut off at the pass. 23 Stalwart walks in step with God; his path blazed by God, he's happy. 24 If he stumbles, he's not down for long; God has a grip on his hand. 25 I once was young, now I'm a graybeard - not once have I seen an abandoned believer, or his kids out roaming the streets. 26 Every day he's out giving and lending, his children making him proud. 27 Turn your back on evil, work for the good and don't quit. 28 God loves this kind of thing, never turns away from his friends. Live this way and you've got it made, but bad eggs will be tossed out. 29 The good get planted on good land and put down healthy roots. 30 Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone, rolls virtue around on his tongue. 31 His heart pumps God's Word like blood through his veins; his feet are as sure as a cat's. 32 Wicked sets a watch for Righteous, he's out for the kill. 33 God, alert, is also on watch - Wicked won't hurt a hair of his head.
34 Wait passionately for God, don't leave the path. He'll give you your place in the sun while you watch the wicked lose it. 35 I saw Wicked bloated like a toad, croaking pretentious nonsense. 36 The next time I looked there was nothing - a punctured bladder, vapid and limp. 37 Keep your eye on the healthy soul, scrutinize the straight life; There's a future in strenuous wholeness. 38 But the willful will soon be discarded; insolent souls are on a dead-end street. 39 The spacious, free life is from God, it's also protected and safe. 40 God-strengthened, we're delivered from evil - when we run to him, he saves us.
The Prayer of a Suffering Penitent
38 1 Take a deep breath, God; calm down - don't be so hasty with your punishing rod. 2 Your sharp-pointed arrows of rebuke draw blood; my backside smarts from your caning. 3 I've lost twenty pounds in two months because of your accusation. My bones are brittle as dry sticks because of my sin. 4 I'm swamped by my bad behavior, collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt. 5 The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots because I've lived so badly. 6 And now I'm flat on my face feeling sorry for myself morning to night. 7 All my insides are on fire, my body is a wreck. 8 I'm on my last legs; I've had it - my life is a vomit of groans. 9 Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight, my groans an old story to you. 10 My heart's about to break; I'm a burned-out case. Cataracts blind me to God and good; 11 old friends avoid me like the plague. My cousins never visit, my neighbors stab me in the back.
12 My competitors blacken my name, devoutly they pray for my ruin. 13 But I'm deaf and mute to it all, ears shut, mouth shut. 14 I don't hear a word they say, don't speak a word in response. 15 What I do, God, is wait for you, wait for my Lord, my God - you will answer! 16 I wait and pray so they won't laugh me off, won't smugly strut off when I stumble. 17 I'm on the edge of losing it - the pain in my gut keeps burning. 18 I'm ready to tell my story of failure, I'm no longer smug in my sin. 19 My enemies are alive and in action, a lynch mob after my neck. 20 I give out good and get back evil from God-haters who can't stand a God-lover. 21 Don't dump me, God; my God, don't stand me up. 22 Hurry and help me; I want some wide-open space in my life!
Hope in the LORD
39 1 I'm determined to watch steps and tongue so they won't land me in trouble. I decided to hold my tongue as long as Wicked is in the room. 2 "Mum's the word," I said, and kept quiet. But the longer I kept silence The worse it got - 3 my insides got hotter and hotter. My thoughts boiled over; I spilled my guts. 4 "Tell me, what's going on, God? How long do I have to live? Give me the bad news! 5 You've kept me on pretty short rations; my life is string too short to be saved. 6 Oh! we're all puffs of air. Oh! we're all shadows in a campfire. Oh! we're just spit in the wind. We make our pile, and then we leave it.
7 "What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that's what I'm doing - hoping 8 You'll save me from a rebel life, save me from the contempt of dunces. 9 I'll say no more, I'll shut my mouth, since you, Lord, are behind all this. 10 But I can't take it much longer. When you put us through the fire 11 to purge us from our sin, our dearest idols go up in smoke. Are we also nothing but smoke? 12 "Ah, God, listen to my prayer, my cry - open your ears. Don't be callous; just look at these tears of mine. I'm a stranger here. I don't know my way - a migrant like my whole family. 13 Give me a break, cut me some slack before it's too late and I'm out of here."