"How frail is humanity! How short is life, and how full of trouble!
Like a flower, we blossom for a moment and then wither. Like the shadow of a passing cloud, we quickly disappear.
Must you keep an eye on such a frail creature and demand an accounting from me?
Who can create purity in one born impure? No one!
You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.
So give us a little rest, won't you? Turn away your angry stare. We are like hired hands, so let us finish the task you have given us.
"If a tree is cut down, there is hope that it will sprout again and grow new branches.
Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays,
at the scent of water it may bud and sprout again like a new seedling.
"But when people die, they lose all strength. They breathe their last, and then where are they?
As water evaporates from a lake and as a river disappears in drought,
people lie down and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.
"I wish you would hide me with the dead and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again!
If mortals die, can they live again? This thought would give me hope, and through my struggle I would eagerly wait for release.
You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.
For then you would count my steps, instead of watching for my sins.
My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover over my iniquity.
"But as mountains fall and crumble and as rocks fall from a cliff,
as water wears away the stones and floods wash away the soil, so you destroy people's hope.
You always overpower them, and then they pass from the scene. You disfigure them in death and send them away.
They never know if their sons grow up in honor or sink to insignificance.
They are absorbed in their own pain and grief."
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
"You are supposed to be a wise man, and yet you give us all this foolish talk. You are nothing but a windbag.
It isn't right to speak so foolishly. What good do such words do?
Have you no fear of God, no reverence for him?
Your sins are telling your mouth what to say. Your words are based on clever deception.
But why should I condemn you? Your own mouth does!
"Were you the first person ever born? Were you born before the hills were made?
Were you listening at God's secret council? Do you have a monopoly on wisdom?
What do you know that we don't? What do you understand that we don't?
On our side are aged, gray-haired men much older than your father!
"Is God's comfort too little for you? Is his gentle word not enough?
What has captured your reason? What has weakened your vision,
that you turn against God and say all these evil things?
Can a mortal be pure? Can a human be just?
Why, God doesn't even trust the angels ! Even the heavens cannot be absolutely pure in his sight.
How much less pure is a corrupt and sinful person with a thirst for wickedness!
"If you will listen, I will answer you from my own experience.
And it is confirmed by the experience of wise men who have heard the same thing from their fathers,
those to whom the land was given long before any foreigners arrived.
"Wicked people are in pain throughout their lives.
They are surrounded by terrors, and even on good days they fear the attack of the destroyer.
They dare not go out into the darkness for fear they will be murdered.
They wander abroad for bread, saying, 'Where is it?' They know their ruin is certain.
That dark day terrifies them. They live in distress and anguish, like a king preparing for an attack.
For they have clenched their fists against God, defying the Almighty.
Holding their strong shields, they defiantly charge against him.
"These wicked people are fat and rich,
but their cities will be ruined. They will live in abandoned houses that are ready to tumble down.
They will not continue to be rich. Their wealth will not endure, and their possessions will no longer spread across the horizon.
"They will not escape the darkness. The flame will burn them up, and the breath of God will destroy everything they have.
Let them no longer trust in empty riches. They are only fooling themselves, for emptiness will be their only reward.
They will be cut down in the prime of life, and all they counted on will disappear.
They will be like a vine whose grapes are harvested before they are ripe, like an olive tree that sheds its blossoms so the fruit cannot form.
For the godless are barren. Their homes, enriched through bribery, will be consumed by fire.
They conceive trouble and evil, and their hearts give birth only to deceit."
Then Job spoke again:
"I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are!
Won't you ever stop your flow of foolish words? What have I said that makes you speak so endlessly?
I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off my criticisms against you and shake my head at you.
But that's not what I would do. I would speak in a way that helps you. I would try to take away your grief.
But as it is, my grief remains no matter how I defend myself. And it does not help if I refuse to speak.
"O God, you have ground me down and devastated my family.
You have reduced me to skin and bones -- as proof, they say, of my sins.
God hates me and tears angrily at my flesh. He gnashes his teeth at me and pierces me with his eyes.
People jeer and laugh at me. They slap my cheek in contempt. A mob gathers against me.
God has handed me over to sinners. He has tossed me into the hands of the wicked.
"I was living quietly until he broke me apart. He took me by the neck and dashed me to pieces. Then he set me up as his target.
His archers surrounded me, and his arrows pierced me without mercy. The ground is wet with my blood.
Again and again he smashed me, charging at me like a warrior.
Here I sit in sackcloth. I have surrendered, and I sit in the dust.
My eyes are red with weeping; darkness covers my eyes.
Yet I am innocent, and my prayer is pure.
"O earth, do not conceal my blood. Let it cry out on my behalf.
Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high.
My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God.
Oh, that someone would mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends.
For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)