1 I can't stand my life - I hate it! -I'm putting it all out on the table, all the bitterness of my life - I'm holding back nothing." 2 Job prayed: "Here's what I want to say: Don't, God, bring in a verdict of guilty without letting me know the charges you're bringing. 3 How does this fit into what you once called 'good' - giving me a hard time, spurning me, a life you shaped by your very own hands, and then blessing the plots of the wicked? 4 You don't look at things the way we mortals do. You're not taken in by appearances, are you? 5 Unlike us, you're not working against a deadline. You have all eternity to work things out. 6 So what's this all about, anyway - this compulsion to dig up some dirt, to find some skeleton in my closet? 7 You know good and well I'm not guilty. You also know no one can help me. 8 "You made me like a handcrafted piece of pottery - and now are you going to smash me to pieces? 9 Don't you remember how beautifully you worked my clay? Will you reduce me now to a mud pie? 10 Oh, that marvel of conception as you stirred together semen and ovum - 11 What a miracle of skin and bone, muscle and brain! 12 You gave me life itself, and incredible love. You watched and guarded every breath I took. 13 "But you never told me about this part. I should have known that there was more to it - 14 That if I so much as missed a step, you'd notice and pounce, wouldn't let me get by with a thing. 15 If I'm truly guilty, I'm doomed. But if I'm innocent, it's no better - I'm still doomed. My belly is full of bitterness. I'm up to my ears in a swamp of affliction. 16 I try to make the best of it, try to brave it out, but you're too much for me, relentless, like a lion on the prowl. 17 You line up fresh witnesses against me. You compound your anger and pile on the grief and pain! 18 "So why did you have me born? I wish no one had ever laid eyes on me! 19 I wish I'd never lived - a stillborn, buried without ever having breathed. 20 Isn't it time to call it quits on my life? Can't you let up, and let me smile just once 21 Before I die and am buried, before I'm nailed into my coffin, sealed in the ground, 22 And banished for good to the land of the dead, blind in the final dark?"
1 Now it was the turn of Zophar from Naamath: 2 "What a flood of words! Shouldn't we put a stop to it? Should this kind of loose talk be permitted? 3 Job, do you think you can carry on like this and we'll say nothing? That we'll let you rail and mock and not step in? 4 You claim, 'My doctrine is sound and my conduct impeccable.' 5 How I wish God would give you a piece of his mind, tell you what's what! 6 I wish he'd show you how wisdom looks from the inside, for true wisdom is mostly 'inside.' But you can be sure of this, you haven't gotten half of what you deserve. 7 "Do you think you can explain the mystery of God? Do you think you can diagram God Almighty? 8 God is far higher than you can imagine, far deeper than you can comprehend, 9 Stretching farther than earth's horizons, far wider than the endless ocean. 10 If he happens along, throws you in jail then hauls you into court, can you do anything about it? 11 He sees through vain pretensions, spots evil a long way off - no one pulls the wool over his eyes! 12 Hollow men, hollow women, will wise up about the same time mules learn to talk. Reach Out to God 13 "Still, if you set your heart on God and reach out to him, 14 If you scrub your hands of sin and refuse to entertain evil in your home, 15 You'll be able to face the world unashamed and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless. 16 You'll forget your troubles; they'll be like old, faded photographs. 17 Your world will be washed in sunshine, every shadow dispersed by dayspring. 18 Full of hope, you'll relax, confident again; you'll look around, sit back, and take it easy. 19 Expansive, without a care in the world, you'll be hunted out by many for your blessing. 20 But the wicked will see none of this. They're headed down a dead-end road with nothing to look forward to - nothing."
1 Job answered: 2 "I'm sure you speak for all the experts, and when you die there'll be no one left to tell us how to live. 3 But don't forget that I also have a brain - I don't intend to play second fiddle to you. It doesn't take an expert to know these things. 4 "I'm ridiculed by my friends: 'So that's the man who had conversations with God!' Ridiculed without mercy: 'Look at the man who never did wrong!' 5 It's easy for the well-to-do to point their fingers in blame, for the well-fixed to pour scorn on the strugglers. 6 Crooks reside safely in high-security houses, insolent blasphemers live in luxury; they've bought and paid for a god who'll protect them. 7 "But ask the animals what they think - let them teach you; let the birds tell you what's going on. 8 Put your ear to the earth - learn the basics. Listen - the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories. 9 Isn't it clear that they all know and agree that God is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand - 10 Every living soul, yes, every breathing creature? 11 Isn't this all just common sense, as common as the sense of taste? 12 Do you think the elderly have a corner on wisdom, that you have to grow old before you understand life? 13 "True wisdom and real power belong to God; from him we learn how to live, and also what to live for. 14 If he tears something down, it's down for good; if he locks people up, they're locked up for good. 15 If he holds back the rain, there's a drought; if he lets it loose, there's a flood. 16 Strength and success belong to God; both deceived and deceiver must answer to him. 17 He strips experts of their vaunted credentials, exposes judges as witless fools. 18 He divests kings of their royal garments, then ties a rag around their waists. 19 He strips priests of their robes, and fires high officials from their jobs. 20 He forces trusted sages to keep silence, deprives elders of their good sense and wisdom. 21 He dumps contempt on famous people, disarms the strong and mighty. 22 He shines a spotlight into caves of darkness, hauls deepest darkness into the noonday sun. 23 He makes nations rise and then fall, builds up some and abandons others. 24 He robs world leaders of their reason, and sends them off into no man's land. 25 They grope in the dark without a clue, lurching and staggering like drunks.
1 "Yes, I've seen all this with my own eyes, heard and understood it with my very own ears. 2 Everything you know, I know, so I'm not taking a back seat to any of you. 3 I'm taking my case straight to God Almighty; I've had it with you - I'm going directly to God. 4 You graffiti my life with lies. You're a bunch of pompous quacks! 5 I wish you'd shut your mouths - silence is your only claim to wisdom. 6 "Listen now while I make my case, consider my side of things for a change. 7 Or are you going to keep on lying 'to do God a service'? to make up stories 'to get him off the hook'? 8 Why do you always take his side? Do you think he needs a lawyer to defend himself? 9 How would you fare if you were in the dock? Your lies might convince a jury - but would they convince God? 10 He'd reprimand you on the spot if he detected a bias in your witness. 11 Doesn't his splendor put you in awe? Aren't you afraid to speak cheap lies before him? 12 Your wise sayings are knickknack wisdom, good for nothing but gathering dust. 13 "So hold your tongue while I have my say, then I'll take whatever I have coming to me. 14 Why do I go out on a limb like this and take my life in my hands? 15 Because even if he killed me, I'd keep on hoping. I'd defend my innocence to the very end. 16 Just wait, this is going to work out for the best - my salvation! If I were guilt-stricken do you think I'd be doing this - laying myself on the line before God? 17 You'd better pay attention to what I'm telling you, listen carefully with both ears. 18 Now that I've laid out my defense, I'm sure that I'll be acquitted. 19 Can anyone prove charges against me? I've said my piece. I rest my case. Why Does God Stay Hidden and Silent? 20 "Please, God, I have two requests; grant them so I'll know I count with you: 21 First, lay off the afflictions; the terror is too much for me. 22 Second, address me directly so I can answer you, or let me speak and then you answer me. 23 How many sins have been charged against me? Show me the list - how bad is it? 24 Why do you stay hidden and silent? Why treat me like I'm your enemy? 25 Why kick me around like an old tin can? Why beat a dead horse? 26 You compile a long list of mean things about me, even hold me accountable for the sins of my youth. 27 You hobble me so I can't move about. You watch every move I make, and brand me as a dangerous character. 28 "Like something rotten, human life fast decomposes, like a moth-eaten shirt or a mildewed blouse.