“Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?
Though they wished to dispute with him, they could not answer him one time out of a thousand.
His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?
He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger.
He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble.
He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars.
He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.
He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.
When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.
If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’
God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.
“How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him?
Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.
Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing.
He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason.
He would not let me catch my breath but would overwhelm me with misery.
If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty! And if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him ?
Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty.
“Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life.
It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent.
When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?
“My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy.
They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their prey.
If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,’
I still dread all my sufferings, for I know you will not hold me innocent.
Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain?
Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with cleansing powder,
you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me.
“He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.
If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together,
someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more.
Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica. All rights reserved worldwide.